Amongst the canon of English makers, certainly amongst the greatest of these was James Tubbs. He was born the eldest of eleven children in a family with little means. His father, William, who was the second generation of makers to bear the family name, made only a meager living. As a result, James and his siblings grew up in a part of London that inspired Dickens’ in his depictions of poverty in Oliver Twist.
James learned his skills as a maker from his father, for whom he worked until sometime during the 1850’s. In 1858, James began a relationship with W. E. Hill, and while remaining independent of the firm, he was tasked with producing the first bows bearing the firm’s name. These bows would go on to win awards of distinction for the storied firm. This relationship would eventually deteriorate until the cessation of this arrangement in 1870. For the balance of his career, whenever James came across one of his bows bearing the Hill brand, he would strike his own brand on top of it.
While his bows were modeled after early F. X. Tourte, the design was still very much his own. He applied the mathematic findings of W. S. B. Woolhouse (himself the owner of a fine Stradivari that would bear his name) to the design of his sticks. His bows were favored by leading musicians of the day, such as Piatti and Wilhelmj. In 1885, Tubbs would be appointed bowmaker by Special Appointment to Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh who was an avid, albeit amateur, violinist who would help found the Royal College of Music in London.
This fine example, of fine red-brown Pernambuco and mounted in chased gold and tortoiseshell, is a fine and exceptionally rare piece in excellent condition, well suited for a professional musician or a collector. 62.9g