Benoît Rolland offers expert certifications and appraisals of French bows at his studio. Standard professional practices apply. Photographs are included if needed with the certificate, as a print or a digital file.
A bow is a fragile and valuable object. It can be easily damaged; the older it is, the more fragile and sensitive to temperature and hygrometry changes it becomes. Even though fine bows may play well over several centuries, their life will not be indefinite.
The guiding principle is to preserve as much as possible in a valuable historic bow, during a restoration. Yet most historic bows will continue to be played, and these bows are thereby subject to wear, similarly to new productions. It is widely understood that such wear can be addressed by the bow maker without taking away any of the historical value. Ivory tips, for example, are notoriously fragile, and most mother-of-pearl shall be replaced in the long run. Once the original components have served their time, a knowledgeable professional may choose to replace them without compromising the overall quality of the bow, as long as he/she understands all historic aspects in the style of the bow.
Benoît Rolland supports a combined approach for prudent use and competent conservation; he builds customized tools or replicates ancient ones, employs rare materials to ensure the greatest possible retention of historic value and musical qualities.
While it is true that damaged bows can often be repaired, loss or removal of any wood is irreversible. A simple but imprudent sanding can undo an originally perfect adjustment or affect the style of a head. For this reason, we strongly recommend placing your historic bow in the hands of a knowledgeable artisan who will be aware of which techniques were used at the time the bow was made and what its style implies.
Bear in mind that precaution must be a rule, particularly during typical yet hazardous maintenance procedures such as rehairing.