The Makers

Charles Nicolas Bazin II

1847 - 1915

Charles Nicolas Bazin II
Charles Nicolas Bazin II

Bazin was born on 24 April, 1847 in Mirecourt. His father, François Xavier, was also a bowmaker and was his first teacher. The registration of his birth shows the luthier and Vuillaume employee, Thélesphore Barbé, as a witness.

When Bazin was only 18 his father died. His early training had been during a period when a transition was being made in bowmaking from the square-headed Peccatte design to the rounder Voirin model. His earliest bows in the heavier style often have Vuillaume style frogs and are stamped with his father’s brand.

From c.1870 he made bows for J. Hel and these, octagonal sticks, sometimes contained a microphoto of Hel in the frog; his own brand, ‘C. Bazin’, is evident from the first half of the 1880s by which time thinner, somewhat bell-shaped heads and standard model frogs prevail.

He was a vigorous advocate for the trade, persuading the Ministry of War, for a period, to regard violin and bow makers as ‘Craftsmen of Art’ and so limit their national service time from five to three years, but also beginning the fight to establish a national violinmaking school in Mirecourt.

Many bowmakers of note worked for Bazin. In 1901 the list of twelve includes Louis Morizot and Victor Fétique. In 1906 the list of seventeen includes Louis Bazin and François Lotte.

Bazin’s workshop produced work for many makers/dealers including N. Audinot, P. Blanchard, E. Boulangeot, Caressa & Français, G.A. Chanot, Collin-Mézin, A. Falisse, J. Hel and P. Hel, J. Lamy, C. Peccatte, Silvestre & Maucotel and Parisot.

The range of models offered by the workshop is wide, ranging from Tourte through Maire and Lupot to Dodd, Panormo and, the still living, Tubbs; as some of these were branded ‘Tubbs’ one wonders at the English bowmaker’s reaction.

Given the scale of Bazin’s enterprise – it is estimated the workshop produced two to three thousand bows a year in its heyday – the level of quality and consistency is remarkable and a testament to his skill as a bowmaker as well as his managerial ability. The working day of the 60 hour week began at five a.m. with a break at eight for a snack and a glass of red wine, perhaps this was his secret!