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Review: Violin-Making as It Was, and Is

Review: Violin Making as It Was, and Is

Ed. Heron-Allen

Ward Lock Limited Publishers, 1884
Distributed by Sterling Publishing Co., New York, 1984
Out of print (1999)

Originally published in American Lutherie #10, 1987 and Big Red Book of American Lutherie Volume One, 2001



Some years ago, I discovered this title in a catalog for luthiers. I noted that it was first published in 1884, and promptly filed the title away in the back of my mind as one of those “quaint, historical classics” that I might acquire later, after I had purchased all of the more practical books on the craft. Now, having finally acquired the book, I am pleased to say that I was greatly mistaken about the practical value of this book. While it is a “quaint, historical classic,” it is also a comprehensive and valuable treatise on the history, design, and construction of the traditional violin.

Heron-Allen submitted this book to fill the void he saw in his time (mid- to late 1800s) regarding the history and construction of the traditional violin. He had originally published much of the material in serial form in the periodical Amateur Work Illustrated (1882–1884). With this work, he corrected, embellished, and further refined his material. He also added a section of history and lore.

Heron-Allen’s treatment of the history of the violin is quite complete for his time. Within the history section, the author includes some biographical material as well as a good chapter on the history and development of the bow.

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