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date: 02 July 2020

Betts, Johnlocked

  • Charles Beare


(b Stamford, Lincs., 1755; d London, March 1823). English violin maker and dealer. He learnt violin making as a pupil of Richard Duke, for whom he worked for 17 years, and the first instruments bearing his label and brand are very similar to those of his master. At the end of 1782 he took over Maurice Whitaker's shop in the Royal Exchange, London, and was joined by his nephew ‘Ned’ who had also been apprenticed to Duke. He seems on the evidence of his labels to have dealt in music and instruments, including his own. By 1790 his instruments, particularly the cellos, had absorbed something of the influence of Stradivari, and were most cleanly made on a good individual outline. They are often branded at the top of the back at this period. At the beginning of the 19th century Betts was employing some of the best workmen in London, including at times the Panormos and Lockey Hill. Many inexpensive new instruments were made for the shop, as well as bows of all qualities. After Betts’s death the business was continued by his nephew, Charles Vernon, and younger brother Arthur (...

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