Joseph Alfred Lamy (Lamy Père) 1850-1919 – French Bow Maker

Joseph Alfred Lamy, also known as Lamy Père, was a renowned French bow maker of the early twentieth century. He gained significant recognition in his field due to his exceptional craftsmanship.

In this article, you will learn more about Joseph Alfred Lamy’s life, work, and legacy.

Lamy’s early life

It was common for French families of luthiers and archetiers to use identical first and last names, which can get confusing! The Lamy family was no different. Jean Joseph Lamy (1813-1886) was not a prominent violin maker but an occasional one. He had several sons, three of whom were named Joseph. His descendants, particularly his sons and grandsons, earned recognition for the Lamy family name, especially as bow-makers.

Joseph Alfred Lamy

Lamy was born in Mirecourt, France, and his birth registration shows Léon Nicolas, a luthier, as a witness. He was apprenticed to Charles Claude Nicolas Husson in 1862. He left to work in Château-Thierry under the direction of Pierre Louis Gautrot in 1868, where he would have met co-worker Joseph Voirin. The connection must have been more than casual as Voirin was a witness at the birth registration of all five of Lamy’s children. In 1876 he moved to Paris to work for François Nicolas Voirin, remaining until Voirin died in 1885. He then began to trade in his own right.

Lamy opened his workshop in the Rue du Faubourg Poissonière, Paris; his son took over after Lamy died in 1919. Lamy’s bows were awarded silver and gold medals at exhibitions in Paris in 1889 and 1890.

Lamy’s style and work

His work in 1876-1889 is firmly rooted in the Voirin style showing thin, delicately chamfered heads and small-throated frogs. Some nickel mounted bows date from his early years of independence. From 1890 to 1900, the work becomes more definitively Lamy rather than Voirin, generally exhibiting frogs with mother-of-pearl eyes and buttons in three pieces. From 1900, heads became wider with bolder chamfers, and the throats of the frogs also widened.

Influence from Lamy’s children

Lamy’s sons Hippolyte Camille (1875-1942) and George Léon (1881-1915) assisted their father: Hippolyte from 1890 and George from 1896. It may be that the influence of his children had some bearing on the stylistic changes made from 1890 onwards.


His brand states, ‘A.LAMY Á PARIS’. The first, slightly smaller brand dates from 1885-90, the second from 1890 onwards. Bows made for various expositions carry the stamp stating this on the audience side of the stick. After Lamy died in 1919 during the influenza pandemic. Hippolyte took over the workshop and continued to use his father’s brand. The stamp, ‘Alfred Lamy’, was used by Joseph Alfred Lamy’s nephew, Alfred (1886-1922), who worked, at times, for both Cuniot and Laberte.

It is worth noting that Joseph Alfred Lamy was a renowned bowmaker whose work set the standard for the general trend toward heavier bows, which greatly influenced French bow making during the late 19th century. One of his most notable pupils and colleagues was Eugène Sartory, considered a classic in 20th century bow making. Lamy’s contributions to modern French bow making make him one of the most significant masters in this craft.

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