Violin by Walter Plain, Glasgow, c. 1845

This violin has now sold.

Violin by Walter Plain, Glasgow, c. 1845

About Walter Plain

Walter Plain was an Edinburgh-trained violin maker who then moved to Glasgow to set up shop as there was less competition in that city at the time. His workshop was on Brunswick Street in the city centre. Plain is considered to be one of the most important Glasgow violin makers of the 19th century.

During the course of his career, Plain made a great many violins, as well as a smaller number of cellos; sadly this was not enough to save him from a life of destitution. Due to failing health, Walter Plain died in the poorhouse on Duke Street in 1880: his trajectory in many ways mirrors that of Edinburgh´s greatest maker, Matthew Hardie.

About the violin

This violin was made around 1845 and has a length of back of 356mm. The violin is modelled after the instruments of Guadagnini. An almost identical instrument can be found in David Rattray´s excellent book, Violin Makers of Scotland 1750-1950. See here for a very contrasting violin by the same maker, a delicate Amati model instrument made in 1862.

The violin has a two piece back of lightly-flamed maple. The two piece front is of even, straight-grained spruce, narrowest on the treble side and widening towards the bass side flanks. The varnish is golden amber in colour and has been shaded: around the C bouts on the back and more extensively on the front a darker brown varnish has been applied by the maker to simulate age. The violin bears the brand `Plain, Glasgow´ several times on the inside of the ribs.

Excitingly, the violin still has its original fingerboard. The pegs and endpin are also of the period and most likely original to the violin. The two piece front is very unusual in that the join is not central but over on the treble side.

How does it sound?

This is a real powerhouse of a violin! Modelled after Guadagnini, it has a dark, rich sound with lots of projection. The violin is wakening up after spending a long time without being played: do check back for updates as it continues to develop...


This violin is in excellent restored condition having been left in a case for almost a century. The violin comes with a full condition report.

More information

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