Violin by James Briggs, Glasgow, 1929

Violin by James Briggs, Glasgow, 1929

About James Briggs

James Briggs was born in Wakefield in 1855 and was apprenticed to William Tarr of Manchester, a maker who is now particularly known for his double basses. Briggs set up his own workshop in Wakefield in 1876 but business was slow. Things improved when Briggs was awarded a gold medal at the Leeds Exhibition in 1890 and thereafter also received diplomas for his work in Paris and Vienna.

Following these successes, Briggs and his family relocated to Glasgow in 1893. Briggs appears to have chosen Glasgow for business reasons: by this date the great Glaswegian dealer David Laurie was reaching the end of his career. The move was a shrewd decision as the Briggs workshop flourished for over half a century.

Briggs worked up until 1931 and died four years later, leaving his workshop to his son Harry. The workshop continued to trade until 1949.

About the violin

This violin was made in Glasgow in 1929. It is modelled after the work of the 19th century Turin maker Giovanni Francesco Pressenda. We know that Briggs came into possession of a Pressenda in 1903 as this violin is referred to in letters between Briggs and his assistant Philip Schreiber.

The violin has a one piece back of highly-figured, beautiful maple and the ribs and scroll are of plainer maple. The front is two pieces of medium-grained spruce. The violin has translucent reddish-brown varnish.

The violin has a length of back of 355 mm.

How does it sound?

Neat and precise, this violin has the bright sparkle that makes fast passages effortless to play. It has a bold and characterful sound and is the kind of violin that projects even at a whisper, making it a brilliant choice for solo performing. It is silky smooth and has a clear, easily heard speaking voice.


The violin is in excellent condition. It is signed internally `J.W. Briggs, Glasgow, 1929´ on the upper back.

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