BENJAMIN BANKS 1727-1795, ranks among the finest English makers of the 18th century. Every book dealing with violin matters records him, some grotesquely, some with unusual adoration. Unlike London, the centre of the Old English School, Salisbury still retains almost all the buildings which Banks knew so well, nevertheless he owned property in Hammersmith and had family connections in the capital, so London also knew him well; subsequently its influence can be seen in his work.
Of the 100 or so illustrations in this publication, most being shown for the first time, the silhouette of Banks himself, is of particular interest and importance: it is the only likeness of any violin maker, prior to photography, to come down to us, and has been thoroughly researched and authenticated. The extract from the 'Apprenticeship Books' is also a vital element in establishing the source of Banks's early training.
For many readers the core of this publication will be the 27 instruments and bows that are fully illustrated, they demonstrate a fertile imagination and the very high standards maintained by him and his family in the making of bowed instruments.
Benjamin Banks's instruments are now in great demand and play an important part in 20th century music making. The £17,500 paid for a 'cello in 1989 is as good an indication as any, and was at the time a record for an English 'cello at auction. Several years research has gone into presenting this definitive publication on Benjamin Banks and his family. The Public Record Office, Kew and the County Record Office, Trowbridge have been rich pools of information. The Salisbury and Winchester Journal, 1740-1820 and the Radnor Archives have also made valuable contributions.
Gold embossed hard case cover, dust jacket in colour, printed on high quality paper. Over 170 photographs black and white/ colour. 27 Instruments fully illustrated. Photographer Arnold Madgwick ABIPP. The definitive work on an important English Violin Maker.
Surrey: Ashford Publications, 2cd edition, 1995, 2cd edition, pp 168 : £20