Yes indeed. It is a pretty rare occasion to find
a Bernard Millant violin, viola or cello bow for sale - so to find
a Bernard Millant double bass bow on the market is incredibly rare.
Well - its simply because the players who were fortunate
enough to acquire one of the "limited" number that he
made treasure their beauty and playing qualities so much that they
just don't want to part with them. Any others that may find their
way on to the market are immediately and eagerly snapped up by
collectors, connoisseurs and investors alike.
Yes - correct. Perhaps a better word to use rather
than "earned" -
would be "crafted".
Unfortunately in a short review such as this - it
will never be possible to do justice to the high esteem placed
on Monsieur Millant - for which we offer our apologies. Perhaps
however a good place to start would be to mention and applaud the
years of hard work, study and dedication that has culminated in
the publication of the sumptuously produced four volume reference
work with text in French, English and German - simply and succinctly
entitled ‘L'Archet’ (Published
L'Archet Editions 2000. ISBN : 2-9515569-0-X). The work - written
in collaboration with fellow French archetier, bow restorer and
uncontested expert Jean-François Raffin - has become the
new standard reference work on French bows and their makers.
In volume III - there are two pages of biographical
text and a page of "Caractéristiques Generals" in
each language. These are followed by six pages of full colour photos
of his work. The photos are in both actual-size and in an expanded
format - to show the important details such as brand stamps and
various frog and button views. The quality of the photography is
1) Bernard Georges Louis Millant was born in Paris
on 13th May 1929.
2) 1942. At only13 years of age - he made his first violin.
3) 1946-48. Served an apprenticeship with the violin maker
4) Served an apprenticeship with the Morizot brothers. This was
to prove a profound influence on his future bow making career.
5) 1949. Employed by Rudié of New York.
6) Worked with Jacques Français.
7) 1950. Set up on his own at No 56 Rue de Rome, Paris.
8) Received valuable guidance on the appraisal of bows from Rembert
9) 1954. He was awarded two certificates of honour in Liége,
Belgium. One was for a quartet of instruments, the other for
a quartet of bows.
10) 1959. He was awarded a gold medal in the bow section of the
Ascoli Piceno, Italy competition.
11) 1960-70. An important decade in terms of demand for his restoration
work, orders for bows and request for appraisals.
12) 1967. He received the Bronze Medal of Merit for Craftsmanship
(section not identified) in Liége, Belgium.
13) 1968. He was conferred the title of expert to the "Commissaires
Priseurs de la Seine".
14) 1969. He received the Gold Medal of Merit for Craftsmanship
(bow section) in Liége, Belgium.
15) Several assistants were taken on to help with the growing
restoration business. From 1972 - 1989 he employed Jean-François
16) 1973. He was conferred "Expert près de la Cour
d'Apppel de Paris" (Judicial Appraiser to the High Court
and the Court of Appeal in Paris).
17) 1988. He was conferred the "Grand Prix de la Création" by
the City of Paris.
18) No date. He was conferred the title of "Chevalier de l'ordre
des arts et des Lettres" (Knight of the Order of Arts and
19) No date. He was conferred the title of "Chevalier de l'ordre
National du Mérite" (Knight of the National Order
20) 1989. He sold the business to Loïc and Verena Le Canu.
Unfortunately the book doesn’t provide an output listing.
Quite probably this is due to the modesty of the man. In place
- what it does state is that his production was "limited" due
to his instrument and restoration commitments.
In general - the heads are inspired by the work
of Domenique Peccatte [1810-1874]. They are quite square (sometimes
referred to as "hatchet-shaped")
- well proportioned and visually powerful. At the frog end the
bottom facets of the handle are often recessed in the style of
W.E. Hill & Sons. This prevents the frog moving out of line
with the head. Some bows - especially those made for exhibition
were made in gold & tortoiseshell or ivory & gold. Some
bows made in the style if Hill incorporate the Fleur de Lys in
1) From 1950-1956: "BERNARD MILLANT A PARIS"
2) From 1956: "BERNARD MILLANT . PARIS"
3) Certain "workshop" bows only in ebony and silver: "MILLANT
4) Exposition bows: "EXPOSITION 19 - -"
5) Model Pascal - which was a slightly shorter viola bow with
frog shifted toward the button: "MODÈLE PASCAL"
6) Year of manufacture: Some bows are stamped with the year in
which they were made. The stamp is located on the bottom facet
at the very end of the handle. Not all bows bear the year stamp.
It is branded "BERNARD MILLANT . PARIS" in two places.
One brand is on the normal side of the handle - the other is intelligently
positioned where it will receive the least amount of wear - on
the obverse side of the stick - at the very end of the handle.
As is consistent with the rest of Millant’s output - both
brands face away from the frog (i.e. readable from the top of the
stick looking down towards the heal of the frog).
This is an ebony and silver mounted bow. The stick
is round. The frog has a rounded heel and is decorated with "Parisian-eyes".
The button is made from one-piece silver and has a single collar.
The heel plate is held with three pins. The button is held with
three pins. The underslide is made of silver and is held with
The face is made from ivory.
Pernambuco of the most stupendous quality has been
used to make this bow. The grains are straight and medium to long
in length. The structure is of a particularly high density and
blemish (less desirable natural occurrences) free. The colour is
The head of this bow is very masculine. It oozes
great strength and power in both its proportions and poise while
still retaining elegance, grace and refinement. The precise flowing
lines and chamfers show a bold, confident maker at the peak of
In a word - yes. This is a bow that feels and plays
well beyond your highest expectations and wildest dreams. When
you first pick it up - you just know that it means business. At
142gms in weight - with a full silver lapping - this is the perfect
tool to produces a massive, full-toned "orchestral" sound. The wonderfully
strong - yet flexible stick makes playing Beethoven, Brahms, Bruckner
and Mahler symphonies seem quite effortless. When required - the
bow responds equally well to spiccato and generally more subtle
styles of playing.
Yes. The words "Incredible, incredible, incredible" just
about cover this question.
The bow most likely dates from around 1970. As mentioned
earlier the button is made with a single collar. L'Archet - on
Generals" page 514 - confirms "Button: Two equal collars
in the first period, generally one round collar after 1965".
A mutual colleague put the question to Monsieur
Millant who replied that he remembered making about six bass bows
after 1960. Some were made for a client in Montreal, Canada. He
remembered well that the client was very "persistent".
Yes. Thomas Martin was living and working in Montreal
between 1964 and1971. Mr Martin was good enough to confirm that
he had two bows made for him in that period using old, extra-special
quality wood that he had purchased from Rosario Forget - an elderly
French-Canadian maker based in the same city. Mr Martin admitted
his persistence in wanting the bows made from Monsieur Millant
- "I did keep
after him 'till he made them I admit".
No - but it would appear to have been made for that
part of the world as it was acquired by Robertson & Sons Violin
Shop in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The bow was sold on to a young
American player who used it for many years.
Yes. It had found its way back to Europe while he
was living and working in Spain.
Yes. On page 197 of Discovering Bows For The Double
Bass (Library Edition ISBN-0-9642895-0-4 published 1994 by Beaux
Arts Editions.) there is an example that is dated 1963 which is
made from "parasitic" pernambuco.
This is pernambuco that displays pronounced ring markings along
part or its entire length. In the right sort of light these markings
in the wood look absolutely stunning.
He writes; "The example shown here is one of only a few bass
bows Bernard Millant made. It has superb playing qualities and
is made from choice wood".
Yes. In our opinion the overall condition of the
bow is "good".
The rating can so be described because there are are some signs
of usage to the handle, frog and button. On the handle - the brand
in the normal position has lost some of its legibility and the
top chamfers show a negligible amount of wear. On the frog some
very minor chips to the ebony and two minor nose fractures have
required filling. On the button the collar has become worn and
is in part missing.
No - not at all. In actual fact - they more often
than not suggest that the bow has been selected, cherished and
used regularly because it is a bow of first choice. If we were
to make the assumption that the bow has been used professionally
for over 40years - then the overall condition of the bow really
is very impressive indeed.
Yes. The quality of wood used to make this bow -
is truly exceptional.
This is certainly a master bow from a master maker.
If you are a player wanting the best of the best - then this Millant
bow should definitely be at the top of your list. If you are perhaps
an investor or collector wanting to lay something down - rather
like a fine wine - then this Millant bow is bound to shine like
in a crown".
What an incredible bow this is. To the incredible
man that is Monsieur Millant - we salute you.
Maker: Bernard Millant
Bow type: French
Bow mounts: Silver
Frog type: Ebony
Frog decoration: Mother-of-pearl dots with rings ("Parisian-eyes")
Profile of stick: Round
Colour of stick: Dark brownish-red
No of brands: 2
Brand: BERNARD MILLANT . PARIS
Profile of heal plate: Round
No of pins in heal plate: 3
No of pins in underslide: 2
No of pins in button: 3
Face type: Ivory
Length of Stick : 655mm
Balance (from stick end): 231mm