Restoration of J. Jacques Millant Viola bow

This viola bow is a beautiful example in tortoise and gold by J. Jacques Millant. Unfortunately, the last person that rehaired the bow forced the spread wedge into the ferrule with so much pressure, that the fragile tongue cracked. Worse yet, the owner of the bow did not realize it had been broken until several months later when she noticed that the ferrule had started to move on the hair. The good news is that this type of damage can be repaired with very little affect on the playability, aesthetics, and value of the bow.

This is an example of the type of damage that can happen to bows in the hands of incompetent and untrained repairmen.

The following pictures and descriptions document the restoration of this bow.

Millant Viola bow Restoration
The tongue of the frog had broken away from the rest of the frog. Fortunately, the spread wedge was so tightly fitted into the ferrule, that the separated piece was still present with the frog. (Although, it was likely the fitting of the spread wedge that caused this damage in the first place.)

Millant Viola bow Restoration
Here you can see the broken tongue (still complete with the spread wedge glued on).

Millant Viola bow Restoration
The break in the tortoise was very fresh, and fortunately no repairs had previously been attempted, so the tongue reglued quite well back into the original position.

Millant Viola bow Restoration
Due to the fragile and brittle nature of tortoise shell, the glue joint on the tongue needed to be reinforced. To do this, a slot for a backing plate was recessed into the hair channel. To prevent it from being seen under the ferrule, the slot terminated just short of the end.

Millant Viola bow Restoration
This photo shows the initial fit of the backing plate. The plate was made with sterling silver that was .5 millimeters thick.

Millant Viola bow Restoration
After the backing plate was glued in place, it was secured with two additional small screws (the type that are often used to secure an underslide lining to a frog). The screws will keep the plate from coming loose if the glue bond ever works loose due to the affects of humidity on tortoise shell.

The W.E. Hill & Sons firm in England made countless tortoise frogs for their bows, and to prevent this type of damage, many of them had this type of backing plate inserted when the frog was initially made.

Millant Viola bow Restoration
This picture shows the repaired tongue from the top.

Millant Viola bow Restoration
Millant Viola bow Restoration

Millant Viola bow Restoration
The bow ready to play again with the finished tongue repair.

 

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