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date: 13 December 2019


  • Philip J. Kass


English violin makers. Samuel Gilkes (b Morton Pinkney, Northamptonshire, 1787; d London, 1827) learnt the violin trade from Charles Harris Sr (1791–1851) in London. Gilkes worked for the well-established William (‘Young’) Forster (1764–1824) from 1810, and on setting up an independent business at Carteret Street, Westminster, from 1819, continued to declare himself on labels as ‘from Forster’. As well as running a successful business and creating some finely crafted instruments (particularly cellos), Gilkes transmitted the tradition of violin expertise to the young John Hart (apprenticed to Gilkes from 1820 and the founder of the three-generation Hart dynasty). Gilkes’s instruments can often be identified by a branded ‘GILKES’ on internal parts. He moved to 34 St James’s Street, Buckingham Gate, in 1822.

Samuel’s son William (b London, c1811; d ?London, c1875) learnt violin making from his father and inherited the Buckingham Gate workshop at his father’s death. His intermittent work carries a variety of addresses in Wandsworth, Vauxhall, and Lambeth over the succeeding 40 years, but he seems to have drifted away from instrument making to playing in theatres and dance bands....

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