Hill Bows

I have quite a few Hill bows come across my workbench and I thought I would share some knowledge about identifying the dates and makers of Hill bows. This knowledge has been acquired from a number of sources including Lynn Hannings, A write-up (I don’t remember where I came across it) by Thomas E. Florence and the Hill Bows website.

It is not the case that the sticks and frogs were always made by the same maker. The sticks were made first and later matched with a frog as needed. So, to completely identify a Hill bow you need to look for 3 pieces of information. First, the date is stamped on the stick just ahead of the mortice (something like C 57 for 1957). there may also be a registration number stamped on a side facet. Second, The makers mark is stamped on the face of metal tip (all Hill bows I have seen have either a silver or gold tip). Finally, the makers mark for the frog is stamped on slide of the frog.

The makers names, dates and mark are as follows:

Sidney Yeoman 1885 single tick
William C. Retford 1891 single dot
William R. Retford 1919 two dots
William Johnston 1894 two ticks (vertical before 1904 horizonta; after)
Frank Napier 1904 three leaves
Charles Leggatt d.1917 two ticks in center
Arthur Copley 1917 number 1
Edgar Bishop 1917 number 2
Albert Leeson 1919 number 3
Leslie Bailey 1920 number 4
Arthur Barnes 1919 number 5
Arthur Bultitude 1922 number 6
William Watson 1945 number 7
Malcom Taylor 1947 number 8
Ronald Harding 1949 number 9
Arthur Brown 1946 letter x or number 10
Allen Willis 1940 number 11
Garner Wilson 1936 number 12
Arthur Scarbrow number 0
David Taylor number 13
John Clutterbuck number 14
Brian Alvey 1966 number 15
Stephen Bristow number 16
Ian Shepherd number 17
David Earl number 18
Matthew Coltman number 19
John Stagg number 20
Derek Wilson number 21
Timothy Baker number 22

If anyone has corrections or additions to this, please let me know.

4 thoughts on “Hill Bows”

  1. As an English bow maker/repairer of some 30 years experience and trained by Arthur Bultitude I have some observations of your notes on Hill bows. 1. Not all Hill bows are date stamped – not before WW1 or much after WW2. 2. I have never heard of any ‘registration marks’ and would suggest that a ‘Hill’ bow with them is a fake. 3. There are no makers marks on the nut (‘frog’), only on the head face of the stick, it is impossible for anyone not in the workshops or closely acquainted with them to tell who made the nuts. I can’t. But there are assembly (usually letter) marks on the lining (‘slide’) to keep nut and stick together once they have been mated. 3.There are some Hill bows with ivory faces from new. Your listing of head face marks originally came from Arthur Bultitude but it opened the door to fakery. I have seen a third – in my experience – fake Hill bow earlier this year, and out of London, that’s a lot. Let me know if you need any more information. The (relatively) new book “Arthur Bultituce and the Hill tradition” by Richard Sadler is worth reading.

  2. I think a lot of these informations are fakes without any knowledge about the biographical dates of these bowmakers,for example:
    William C.Retford(b.1876):W.C.Retford started to work for hill much later,the praxice of stamping the hillbows with codes at the tip started around 1900.
    William Watson:b.1930!Watson started his career in the
    hill-firm as a bowmaker(last pupil of W.C.Retford) in the mid-fifties.

  3. The W.E.H&S cello bow I have has the two dots on the silver tip under the hair, and also the letter “A” stamped on the stick under the slide, and on the metal slide also. The tip mark I would take to be of William Richard Retford, but there is no number or code on it anywhere, just the A’s. I don’t know if this helps at all, but thought I’d just add it! If there is any more knowledge out there, I’d be really interested to hear about my bow and possibly what the A’s mean?

  4. I’m now slightly confused. I’ve got a cello bow marked with the well known W E Hill stamp on the right side of the stick. What makes me confused is that there are two identical stamps. One on the inside of the frog, one on the inside of the stick where the frog joins.
    But there are two letters and two numbers (WW 45). And a single dot on the silver tip.
    Fake or real?

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