Old famous violin makers (Gallery)
"The details are not the details. They make the product""BETTS, John Edward - Known as 'Old John Betts'.
Born at Stamford (Lincolnshire), 1755.
Came to London and studied the art under Richard Duke.
Soon developed a keen business capability, opened inviting premises, and at different periods, employed notable men such as Panormo, Fendt, Carter and Tobin.
Died in 1823. Buried at Cripplegate Church.
Made few instruments himselfearly productions characterised by Amatese outline and arching. Sound-holes rather inartistically wide. Scrolls always neatly finished. Excellent wood in quality and prettiness. Subsequent instruments bearing his label were most probably made by the above-mentioned workmen.
Advertised that he 'makes in the neatest manner, violins the patterns of Ant. Stradivarius, Hieronymus Amatus, Jacobus Stainer and Tyrols. Equal for the fine, full, mellow tone to those made in Cremona'.
But the larger proportion of instruments emanating from his workshop were Amatese, and he instructed assistants to continue working in the 'metier' which brought him the best reputation and quicker increased his banking account. Doubtless quite justified in not striking out for the patch of originality, apparently being conscious of his own fluctuating skill, as well as not underrating the caprices of the public. These instruments, whoever actually made them, give the index of the varying planes of the Amati structure. Arching beautifully done, ease and grace very discernable about the waist curves. Workmanship wholly refined. Scroll of fine volute and a perfect approach to the boss, often of broad aspect. Sound-holes also of ideal curvature. Frequently backs of an especially beautiful close-striped figure. Varnish applied as though worn and aged. Tone never brilliant or strong, but often exceedingly suave, warm and of silvery clarity. Violas sometimes inlaid with various decorations.
Cellos perhaps superior to the violins, and steadily gaining in the estimation of experts.
Usually branded 'Betts London' on button.
This has been fictitiously used in a wholesale manner, and may be seen on common factory fiddles. Many specimens with a Betts label are often of the five to ten-pounds inferior order, and indubitably not genuine, not even as having been made by the most elementary of the many apprentices in his workshop.