an blog | AJBlog Central | Contact me | Advertise | Follow me:

A cello bow going…. for $175,000

It’s on ebay, and the pedigree is good: “a very rare, superb French certified cello bow by Francois Xavier Tourte, ca.1820“.

But for how much? The price of a small house in the country.



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...


  1. Wait, isn’t 175G pretty low for
    A Tourte?

  2. Some months ago there was a Tourte violin bow listed by a top american auction house with an estimate of 200.000 – 250.000$. I don’t know if it sold or not.

  3. Some people spend that much on fancy cars. And the price of a new Steinway D concert grand is also in that range. The bow is a better investment in terms of future returns than either of the above. It will probably become much more valuable in only 5-10 years.

    • I strongly disagree with your statement. A steinway model D piano in early 1900s costed 1000$ and in one century it’s price rose up to 140.0000$. There is a list showing the differences every single year which are pretty high!

  4. And how much just for one?

  5. I have a nice but damaged ca. 1790-1800 Leonard / F. X. Tourte octagonal viola bow I wouldn’t mind parting with. Surprisingly, the original frog remains and is in excellent condition. If interested give a shout!

  6. For that price it better be a real Tourte bow. But how can you ever be sure of that? It’s happened to countless musicians to have some expert disagree with a certificate of a rare bow or instrument. Sometimes for the better sometimes for the worse…good luck to the buyer.

    • It is definitely genuine, the same seller also offers a nice violin bow by Leonard Tourte.
      Tourte family bows are as distinctive from all others as a true Guarneri del Gesu violin is distinctive from all others. There can be no difference in the estimation of a line or curve.

      Each maker has their own way of doing things and nothing one maker does can be copied (with true exactness) by any other maker.

      These are the facts, and nothing anyone says to the contrary can be proven true.

      • I am no bow expert.

        But I have witnessed certain colleagues complain about how disappointed they were when selling their cherished old italian cello after decades. In one particular example that comes to my mind one prospective buyer consulted five experts. Four agreed it was a Gagliano Cello. But the fifth took some wood from the cello and analyzed it. He then found out that the wood was not old enough for a Gagliano and attributed the cello to a lesser name. Big loss in value.

        A similar story happened to another colleague with a cello bow that was supposed to be a Peccate. A friend of mine wanted to buy the bow and took it to the big expert in Paris who said textually: It’s a superb bow but it’s definitely not Peccate.

        Or think about violin dealer Machold who is now in prison (many false Strads).

        Buy what feels right for you.

        But as a player I choose to assess value according to playing quality, sound and condition. I don’t care about name, provenience, pedigree etc.

        • That you say “the fifth took some wood and analyzed it” should have raised serious questions in the owner’s mind, if not outright suspicions. So called “dendro” tests can be useful in dating conifer species, especially with 17th-18th century Italian instruments, but not always.

          Four out of five is damned plenty good enough word for a correct assessment of authorship, especially with Gagliano family instruments, most especially Allesandro’s work. I own the only 1713 Alessandro Gagliano violin “known to exist”, according to all 19th- 20th century dealer archives or registries accessible to the public. Notwithstanding, a real “expert” does not miss very often, even then it will be a very near miss…still near dead center of the “bullseye”.

          Many a crooked dealer will be intimidated when the unsuspecting owner of a fine rare and valuable instrument sets their masterpiece on the counter. The first reaction will be that of expressing disdain for the piece, simply because “the expert” is jealous that he doesn’t own it, or didn’t “discover it. This has happened time and time again. – Ask me how I know.

          • What you write makes sense.
            Anyhow it’s not an easy business and there are frauds and counterfeits. I sincerely wish everybody the best and keep my fingers crossed for those willing to spend that kimd of money on a bow.

  7. Sebastian said:

    “It’s happened to countless musicians to have some expert disagree with a certificate of a rare bow or instrument.”


    I am a bonafide practitioner of “recognition = identification /|\ identification = recognition”.

    The unalterable scale of “weighing” authenticity will always balance itself, without the slightest waver.

    A bonafide expert is first and forever a true connoisseur. This is something no amount of money can buy.

  8. Rosalind says:

    One can never underestimate the worth of a great bow, but for a player it is such an individual thing that really I can’t see any musician buying this example, without the chance of testing it out on their own instruments for at least a week or so beforehand. A rich collector on the other hand…

    It is amazing how bows differ in feel and character and often a “name” with a big price tag attached may in fact prove a disappointing experience when actually played. One memorable session when I was bow-hunting – I was trying out a whole case of high quality examples and dismissed one with “can’t do anything with that, not a nice bow at all” only to later discover it was selling for well into 5 figures! It just didn’t react to me or do what I wanted it to do, I wouldn’t have paid £100 for it! Whereas the moment I picked up my James Tubbs, I knew I had found my dream bow.

  9. Any bow at any time, even “lowly” German factory work, may well stand the possibility of being carefully regulated to the point of displaying exceptional playing characteristics…equal to the fine and grand French “masterpieces”. As a connoisseur / collector of more than 40 years, I can say this because of personal hands on experience. The name of the game (in major retail shops) is promoting the “fame of the name”.

    As with any musical instrument or accessory playing tool, whether of famous make or not, let IT do the talking.
    When that is allowed to happen, the truth will come out.

an ArtsJournal blog