Violin by William Glenister, England, 1915

Violin by William Glenister, England, 1915

About William Glenister

William Glenister was born in 1850 and set up as a violin maker around 1888. He was self-taught and set up his workshop on Beak Street, London. Soho was very much the centre of the London violin-making world at this time: there were more than a dozen violin dealers and makers centred around Wardour Street and the makers would have all have been intimately aware of the others’ work.

Glenister worked on classical Italian models, mostly the 1690 ‘Tuscan’ Stradivari. This instrument passed through the hands of W.E. Hill & Sons several times from 1888 onwards: it is highly likely that Glenister was afforded the opportunity to see the instrument in person during this time.

Glenister’s journey from gardener to respected luthier illustrates the great Victorian drive to self-improvement: technical manuals by the likes of Edward Heron-Allen gave many the opportunity to learn a new skill. William Glenister made around 70 instruments and died in 1936.

About the violin

The violin was made in London in 1915 and is modelled after the instruments of Stradivari.

The violin has a one piece back of beautifully-figured sugar maple with ribs and scroll to match. Sugar maple was popular with the English makers of the nineteenth century. The front is two pieces of fine-grained spruce and the varnish is a rich reddish-brown, laid over a lighter ground. The varnish has developed a subtle and attractive craquelure over time.

The violin has a length of back of 359 mm.

How does it play?

This is a bright, powerful violin which can cut through an ensemble with ease. It’s even across the strings and has reserves of colour and warmth to draw upon. It particularly suits a flexible, supple bow and responds quickly to different types of bow strokes.


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

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