Violin by Arthur and John Betts, London, 1851

This violin has now sold.

Violin by Arthur and John Betts, London, 1851

About Arthur and John Betts

The Betts family name came to prominence in the violin making world thanks to the work of John Betts, born in Stamford in 1752. It was he who established the great Betts workshop in Holborn´s Royal Exchange around 1782. Betts was a talented maker himself and also employed some of the most talented English makers of the period, including Vincenzo Panormo, Joseph Hill II, Henry Lockey Hill, John Furber and both B.S. Fendts. With such an incredible team in the workshop, John Betts was free to focus on importing some of the finest Italian violins for sale. Upon his death in 1823, he left the shop to his younger brother and pupil Arthur, as well as his nephew Charles Vernon.

Arthur Betts and Charles Vernon continued the shop for a few years before Arthur´s famous purchase of the 1704 Betts Stradivari for the princely sum of one guinea. His refusal to allow Charles to profit from the purchase led to the partners falling out. Under the sole ownership of Arthur, the workshop became incredibly skilled at imitating the work of the great masters and participated in some of the ethically short-sighted restoration practices that went on during the Victorian era.

Arthur died in 1847, leaving the shop to his two sons, Arthur II and John II. They kept the company name but changed the labels to `Arthur and John Betts´. The shop thrived for another 20 years before finally closing in 1867, having firmly linked the family name with some of the world´s greatest instruments.

About the violin

The violin is an absolutely stunning Nicolò Amati copy. One of the great advantages to having a dealership in conjunction with a workshop is that the makers had access to all sorts of beautiful and important Italian instruments to copy.

The violin has a two piece back of highly-figured, quarter sawn maple which is book-matched. The front is two pieces of straight grained spruce and the varnish is a beautiful reddish-brown typical of the best English instruments of the period. The varnish is extremely well preserved and retains some of its original texture.

The length of back is 355 mm.

How does it sound?

This violin has an electric vibrancy, as though the sound is just waiting to burst out. It´s everything we look for in a violin: the perfect combination of warmth, projection and flexibility of tone. A sheer joy to play!


The violin is in stunning original condition with no cracks. It bears its original label.

More information

This violin has now sold, but you can view other violins in this price range.