W.E. Hill & Sons
W. E. Hill & Sons (1880) is a London-based firm that specialises in violins and other string instruments, and bows. It was also known as William Ebsworth Hill & Sons or William E. Hill & Sons.
Founded by William Ebsworth Hill at Wardour Street in 1880 and moved to 38 New Bond Street in 1887, ten years later relocated to 140 New Bond Street. In 1887 built workshops in Hanwell and extended them in 1904. The name W. E. Hill & Sons is built on a long family history of violin making, going back to William Ebsworth's great-grandfather, Joseph Hill. The firm soon gained a widespread reputation for expertise and dealing in fine instruments. They were also established as makers of instruments, bows, cases and fittings. A Hill's Certificate of Authenticity is considered definitive worldwide throughout the firm's history and their publications on Stradivari and Guarneri are still industry standards.
Many fine craftsmen worked for the firm. For much of the 20th century, the Hill workshop employed England’s best bow makers, who created bows renowned for character and consistency. Hill violins, cellos and cases are also highly regarded. Their other products included varnish cleaner, violin e-strings, rosin, peg paste, music stands, chinrests, and specialist tools.
Over the years many of the most celebrated instruments by Stradivari, Amati, and Guarneri passed through Hill & Sons. They built up one of the most notable collections of stringed instruments which can be seen at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, including the "Messiah" Stradivari from 1716.
In the mid-1970s Hills bought 'Havenfields' in Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire and moved to the workshop there.
W. E. Hill and Sons closed the workshop at Havenfields in 1992.
In 2018, W. E. Hill and Sons moved back to London.
Auction record prices
- New York, October 16, 2013 – Tarisio Auctions, (New York) Violin Bow CHARLES LEGGATT FOR W.E. HILL & SONS, c. 1905 ex-Aaron Rosand mounted in Gold/Tortoise-Shell with fleur-de-lys motif US$15,600
- London, Oct 7, 2010 – Sotheby's of London Lot 35 Violin Bow, World Record for a Hill violin bow $15,899 £10,000 €11,538
- New York, Oct 18, 2009 – Tarisio Auctions Lot 414 Cello, 1893, World Record for a Hill Cello $54,000 £33,366 €36,311
- London Mar 11, 2008 – Sotheby's of London Lot 129 Cello Bow, World Record for a Hill cello bow $18,788 £9,375 €12,257 Filimonov Fine Violins
W.E. Hill & Sons Bow Makers
- Sam Allen (b. 1838 - d. 1914) (Hills 1880-1891) - no marking
- Sydney Yeoman (b. 1876 - d. 1948) (Hills 1890-1945) - marked with a single nick in the lower mortise
- William Napier (b. 1848 - d. 1932) (Hills 1891-1930) - no marking
- William Charles Retford (b. 1875 - d. 1970) (Hills 1892-1956) - marked with a single dot
- William Grieve Johnston (b. 1860 - d. 1944) (Hills 1894-1940) - before 1904 marked with downward nicks in the head mortise, after 1904 the nicks became horizontal
- Charles Leggatt (b. 1880 - d. 1917) (Hills 1895-1916) - marked with two nicks in the centre of the mortise
- Frank Napier (b. 1886 - d. 1969) (Hills 1900-1930) - marked with a pattern of three leaves
- Arthur Copley (b. 1903 - d. 1976) (Hills 1917-1976) - marked 1
- Edgar Bishop (b. 1904 - d. 1943) (Hills 1918-1943) - marked 2
- William Richard Retford (b. 1899 - d. 1960) (Hills 1919-1960) - marked with two dots
- Arthur Scarbrow (b. 1900 - d. 1953) (Hills 1919-1930) - marked 0
- Leslie Bailey (b. 1905 - d. 1984) (Hills 1919-1939) - marked 4
- Albert Leeson (b. 1903 - d. 1946) (Hills 1920-1946) - marked 3
- Arthur John Barnes (b. 1888 - d. 1945) (Hills 1920-1939) - marked 5
- Arthur Bultitude (b. 1908 - d. 1990) (Hills 1922-1961) - marked 6
- William Watson (b. 1930) (Hills 1945-1962) - marked 7
- Ronald Harding (b. 1932 - d. 2014) (Hills 1946-1956) - marked 9
- Arthur Brown (b. 1903 - d.?) (Hills 1946-1968) - marked 10 or X
- Malcolm M Taylor (b. 1933 - d. 2012) (Hills 1949-1973) - marked 8
- David Taylor (b. 1940) (Hills 1956-1966) - marked 13
- Alan Willis (b. 1942) (Hills 1957-1962) - marked 11
- Garner Wilson (b. 1944 - d. 2013) (Hills 1960-1966) - marked 12
- John Clutterbuck (b. 1949) (Hills 1964-1971) - marked 14
- Brian Alvey (b. 1949) (Hills 1966-1978) - marked 15
- Stephen Bristow (b. 1952) (Hills 1967-1972) - marked 16
- David Earl (b. 1953 - d. 1982) (Hills 1969-1978) - marked 18
- Ian Shepherd (b. 1955) (Hills 1971-1975) - marked 17
- Matthew Coltman (b. 1955) (Hills 1977-1981) - marked 19
- John Stagg (b. 1954) (Hills 1977-1983) - marked 20
- Derek Wilson (b. 1962) (Hills 1978-1985) - no marking
- Tim Baker (b. 1962) (Hills 1981-1984) - no marking
W.E. Hill and Sons Violin Makers
- Charles François Langonet (b. 1860 - d. 1929) (Hills 1879-1929)
- Joseph Prunier
- August Delunet
- Joseph Somney
- Edward Wayland
- James Jeffreys
- Alfred Charles Langonet (b. 1917 - d. 1973)
- Hill, W. H.; Hill, A. F.; Hill, A. E. (1909). Antonio Stradivari: His Life and Work, 1644–1737. London: W. E. Hill & Sons. OCLC 47174898.
- Hill, William Henry (1932). The Violin Makers of the Guarneri Family: Their Life and Work. London: W. E. Hill & Sons. OCLC 23741230.
- W.E. Hill & Sons (1976). The Tuscan and the Messie. London: W. E. Hill & Sons. OCLC 3225254.
- The Guitar (From The Renaissance To The Present Day) by Harvey Turnbull (Third Impression 1978) - Publisher: Batsford. Images from the W. E. Hill & Sons Collection: plate 22c (Guitar by Alexandre Voboam dated 1652) and plate 23a/b/c (Chitarra Battente by Jacobus Stadler)
- Henley, William (1973). The Universal Dictionary of Violin and Bow Makers (2nd ed.). Brighton: Amati Pub. Ltd.
- W.E. Hill & Sons (A Tribute), Richard Sadler 1996 ISBN 0-9504357-2-4
- Giovanni Paolo Maggini: His Life and Work (1892) Henry, Arthur & Alfred Hill
- The Hill Bow Makers 1880-1962, John Milnes and Derek Wilson 2016, ISBN 978-0-9549702-9-1
- Hill Bows
- Pegturning tales (from The Strad)DEAD LINK
- Books on W E Hill & Sons (Ealing Strings)
- Internet edition of the Hills' book on Stradivari (Cello Heaven)
- Anecdote about William Hill identifying a Stradivarius from an interview with Henry Brant
- Example of a Certificate of Authenticity
- W.E. Hill & Sons: on the Mt. Parnassus of the art of violin making