"Frères" means bothers. In this instance it refers
to the brothers Ernest Auguste Bernadel [1826-1899] and Gustave
Adolphe Bernadel [1832 - 1904]. Their father was Auguste
Sebastien Philippe Bernadel [1798 - 1870]. There is much
written about this talented family of makers and their work is
widely recognised for their fine modelling, supremely neat workmanship
and their superb varnishes.
In this instance Gand refers to Charles Nicolas
Gand [1825 -1892]. Charles Nicholas Eugéne Gand was the
son of Charles François Gand [1782 - 1845] who was
known as "Gand Père". Like the Bernadel family
- the making, repairing and business achievements of the Gand family
are well recognised and documented.
The two houses joined together in 1866 and
established the Firm Gand & Bernadel Frères. The association lasted until
the elder Bernadel retired in 1886 after which the firm continued
in the name of Gand & Bernadel.
The partners produced exquisite Lupot-Strad
model instruments that looked and sounded really well. Orders
for the instruments began to flood in - so in order to cope with
the demand - workmen were engaged - although the traditional
Lupot-Gand red varnish was still applied by Charles Nicolas Eugéne
During the twenty year association they supplied
many fine bows. Most of these were made to order by the better
known makers of the time such as Joseph A. Vigneron, Justin Poirson,
Louis Thomassin, Claude Husson and August Barbé. The firms stamp - Gand & Bernadel
Frères was then branded onto the bows.
This bow has been certified by Jean-François
Raffin as from the "School of Voirin".
In addition to being co-author of L'Archet - the
authoritative Encyclopaedia on bows of the French school - Monsieur
Raffin appraises and certifies bows. In 1996 he was awarded the
distinction of "Expert to the Court of Appeal" in Paris.
Yes - there is a full head and frog photo.
It is dated 24th May 2005.
The certificate is written in French. Here is a
'I the undersigned - Jean-François Raffin. Bowmaker
and Expert before the Court of Appeal of Paris, certify that the
double bass bow shown to me this day for my opinion, is authentic
in all its principal parts as follows; from the School of Voirin,
made for Gand & Bernadel brothers whose firm's stamp it bears
on the stick at the side of the frog.'
The characteristics of the bow are described as
'Stick; round, in beach wood stained red, 61.7cm long.
Frog; open ebony, without ferrule or slide, with round heel, under-plate
of metal fixed with two pins.
Button; made with a double collar called "Papillon".'
The certificate concludes as follows;
'Interesting specimen of this great French School in good
condition to this day - made around 1880.'
Director Tony Houska thinks that this is a very
rare and special bow. He comments. "In all my years as a player
and a dealer (some 38 years) - I have never come across another
bow such as this. From the dealer, collector or bow historian's
point of view - it is something very special indeed. The mere fact
that the stick is made from beech wood is in itself most unusual.
When assessed in combination with the open frog - which by the
way doesn't have either a pearl slide or a ferrule - the brass
button and the original slender ebony face - the whole piece is
most intriguing indeed."
Tony continues; "I just love the shortness of the
bow and its lightness in weight. The whole bow just feels wonderful
and alive in the hand. I also love the shape and precise carving
of the head and the wide grain lines that are visible in the wood
particularly at the head."
"Yes indeed. There is plenty to marvel and speculate
about. Just take a look at the crystal clear brand stamp on the
shaft of the stick. It is simply amazing. You should also take
a good look at the three capital letter 'B'-brands. There
is one stamped after the name brand towards the end of stick shaft,
the second one is stamped on the opposite side of the stick close
to the lapping - and the third one - slightly more faint than the
other two - is impressed on the main brand side of the ebony frog.
This large font brand is something that I have never ever seen
before on any other bow. It does seem to suggest that the item
must have been some sort of special order from a customer or patron.
The question in my mind at the moment is - is this a shop brand
as in 'B' - for Bernadel or is this the initial of
the patron who is purchasing or owns the bow?"
"Well OK - but purely on a speculation basis. If
you look at the LOS and weight stats - they do suggest that the
bow could have been commissioned for a promising young student
or perhaps a lady-amateur wanting to play chamber music in their
own home or in informal settings. It could even have been made
for say a more elderly musician - because he was performing each
night in the cramped conditions of a theatre pit. Being old and
somewhat frail - might mean he just couldn't manage a heavier bow
for any length of time. As I said - it's just a few ideas. Wouldn't
it be great if the bow could tell us is own stories of music making?"
Yes - for a bow of this period it is in pretty amazing condition.
There are no signs of wear or damage apart from a thin glue line
that runs for approx 19mm from the bottom of the 'B' -
next to the main brand - to the end of the stick. There are also
two small glue lines that run for approx 14mm from the top of the
'B'. If we examine the brand it is apparent that it has been impressed
very, very deeply and as just mentioned - the glue lines run directly
from the edges of the brand. All of this strongly suggests that
these fractures were caused at the time that the brand was struck.
Unfortunate as this is - if the branding had been done in the workshop
of Gand & Bernadel Frères - it can be described as being "damaged
in the make" - rather than "accidental damage" cause
in negligent usage. It would also follow that the repairs now apparent
- would have been executed prior to it being offered to the customer.
A situation probably of some embarrassment to the shop and obviously
not entirely ideal for the customer!
Well yes in theory at least. If the bow was "damaged
in the make" and subsequently repaired in the shop of the maker
then in theory the loss of value is not as great as if the item
had been damaged at a later date through negligence.
Yes - it is good condition. The only thing that is
apparent is some slight rounding of the edges of the frog from
playing usage. This has had the positive effect of making the frog
seem incredibly comfy in the hand. In addition there is a slight
groove - approximately
15mm long - in the ebony on one side of the frog where a player
or players have "stored" the bow underneath the lower
string of his instrument.
If you are a collector, investor, museum or very
interested in the history and development of the bass bow then
yes - most definitely - is the answer. If you are a player - then
you will carefully need to assess the LOS, weight and strength
of the stick before you purchase it.
This is without question a very, very interesting
and unique bow.
Length of Stick : 617mm
Weight : 132gm