Herrmann bow making dynasty: An enduring legacy

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Like their close contemporaries the Knopfs, the Herrmann family of bow makers left behind a large number of bows, many of which show exquisite craftsmanship. In the second of two articles, Gennady Filimonov examines their history, their connections with the Knopfs, and several examples of their work

In the 19th century, the German city of Markneukirchen was one of the global centres of bow making. It is understandable, then, that the people involved in the industry there might come together and their family lines might merge. While researching my article for The Strad on the Knopf family of bow makers (‘A tangled web’, June 2021) I repeatedly came across links with the Herrmann family of bow makers. Not only is the dynasty contemporaneous with the Knopfs, it actually lasted for longer; for while the Knopf dynasty ended with the demise of Henry R. Knopf in 1939, the Herrmanns continued making bows until the last surviving bow maker, Lothar Herrmann, died in 1987.

The Herrmanns’ bow making style is also linked to that of the Knopfs – not least because the family members worked together in the same shop, which frequently did business with Nikolai Kittel in Russia. And indeed, the two dynasties merged quite early on, with the marriage of Christian Friedrich Herrmann to Carolina Wilhelmine Knopf in 1861. One might even call the subsequent line the ‘Herrmann–Knopf dynasty’ of bow makers.

The present article is the result of in-depth archival research and many discussions with members of both the Knopf and Herrmann families. It brings to light a rich legacy that had previously remained untouched since 1987. In terms of the family lineage, since the Herrmanns used the same few names for their children repeatedly, it can be even harder to keep track of their members than the Knopfs. For this reason, the first time a bow maker is mentioned in this article, and in the family tree above, the name most often used on their brand is underlined. This is also the name by which he is subsquently referred to in the text…

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