Viola by William Smith

Sheffield, ca. 1780

Catalog 49 – Viola. William Smith – Sheffield, um 1780

Here we have another instrument in perfect original state, a prime example of violin making in England in the second half of the 18th C. All parts are original, no damage to front or back. Only the bridge and tailpiece have been replaced. The small dimensions of this viola made it suitable for chamber music in the salons. Johann Christian Bach, Carl Friedrich Abel and others would have employed such an instrument in their performances.

We had previously erroneously labeled this viola as “Thomas Smith”. We would like to thank Mr. John Dilworth, London, for the following correction:

The “Thomas Smith” viola is actually a William Smith, a different and unrelated maker who worked in Sheffield in the north of England at about the same time.
The better known Thomas Smith was a pupil and assistant of Peter Wamsley in Piccadilly, London.
Unfortunately Smith is a very common name in England.
Also James Brown, or anyone of that name, is not known to have worked in Salisbury.
His workshops were in London and he is connected most closely with the Kennedy and Wither families.
John Dilworth


Body length mm
Upper width
Middle width mm
Lower width mm
Rib height mm
String length mm