Suggestions in The Strad, 1892, for dealing with this moist problem include oatmeal, vinegar and vegetarianism

September 1892

From The Strad, September 1892


To the Editor of The Strad

Sir, – A good many of your readers, including myself, will be greatly obliged to you if you or any of your correspondents could recommend an effective remedy for hot or perspiring hands, I am sure a great drawback to many a violin player. I have been learning the violin here for three terms and have made good progress, so much so, that I have beaten many older pupils. Now I find a great barrier in my way, viz., hot or perspiring hands, which evil does not only make the violin go out of tune every few minutes, but also makes the E strings snap as if they were made of glass. I have tried various remedies for abating this nuisance, but without success, and now I write to you, sir, in the hope that you may be able to help me in coping with this great drawback. If it cannot be stopped, I am afraid I shall be obliged to drop the fiddle, however fond I may be of the instrument.

Thanks you most sincerely on behalf of myself and two other members of our school who are similarly afflicted, I remain, sir,

Yours faithfully,

Jay Street.

Belfast, August 20th 1892

[We sincerely sympathise with our correspondent and should be glad if some of our readers could help him out of his troubles. – Ed.]

From The Strad, October 1892


To the Editor of The Strad.

Sir, – Being somewhat of a fiddle philosopher, I think I can relieve the unhappy author of the letter in your interesting paper. I advise “Jay Street” to live without eating meat for a few days, and not to take any stimulants on the day of violin playing except a little Liebig’s (Tooth’s) extract of meat in warm water, and get a shirt, or any garment, and wash it in a pan of hot water until the water becomes nearly cold, a few hours before violin practice. This will open the pores of the skin and let all the perspiration out. Don’t wash the hands in cold water. Fasting and light diet will cause coldness of the hands, and remove the feeling of heated moisture when playing.

Faithfully yours,


September 12th, 1892

Sir, – In reply to your correspondent, “Jay Street,” I think the following will be a simple and effectual remedy:

Wash the hands first in lukewarm water and almost dry them, take some fuller’s earth and rub between and again wipe the hands with a soft handkerchief.

Trusting this may find a place in your valuable paper,

Yours faithfully,

T.J. Tarbox

Stanhope Street, London N.W.


From The Strad, December 1892

Sir, – Many violinists and pianists complain of the inconvenience caused by inordinate moisture or perspiration of the hands before, during, or after playing.

This affection, called in medical science Hyperidrosis, is connected in most cases with general weakness of the nervous system. It sometimes runs in families, and is bequeathed from father to child. Generally the feet and armpits suffer in a similar manner; sometimes only one side of the body is affected.

As this affection most decidedly has its origin in weakness it of course is treated with tonics, like quinine, arsenic, iron, even strychnine, which however, should only be taken under proper medical advice. But a local treatment is also in most cases necessary. People who suffer from this affection ought always to wash with Juniper tar soap, and sometimes moisten their hands with a very hot sponge. Merely warm applications make the ailment worse.

There exist also a large number of external remedies, which are of great help. For instance, one part of ammonia mixed with three parts of water, applied with a sponge; or one part of vinegar with three parts of water; or one part of acideum sulphurcicum dilutum with eighty parts of water. But the best lotion seems to be the linimentum belladonnæ, which is applied to the parts affected. A teaspoonful poured into the one hand and rubbed in with the other is also a good thing, especially when the whole hand is affected.

I give these remedies after consulting high medical authority, and hope that one or the other may benefit those of your readers who may be similarly affected.

I remain, yours truly,

Bernhard Althaus,

(R.A.M., Berlin and Leipzig)

162, Portsdown Road, W.


Dear Sir, – “Jay Street” should look at page 18 of the STRAD, Vol. II. If this is inconvenient the following recipes recommended by various writers may be of interest: –

1. Wash the hands in tepid water, dry and afterwards rub some finely-powdered alum into the skin.

2. Rub the hand and fingers with a sponge dipped in spirits the last thing at night.

3. After washing the hands, rub with fine oatmeal.

4. Wash the hands in tepid water, dry, rub powdered starch well into the skin. Tannin, bismuth or zinc oxide may be used in the place of starch. But violinists must be very careful in this matter, or else in stopping the perspiration they may injure the eyes.

5. The one I always find a simple but good remedy is: – a little borax in the water when washing the hands, half an hour after the most sever exercise it he student can get, seems to harden the fingers on the left hand.

I cannot personally recommend any of these as my hands are cool. Hoping that one of these will prove effective.

I remain, dear sir,

Most truly yours,

Philip A. Robson.

Blackheath, 1892

Sir, – Having suffered myself somewhat from this complaint, I should also be glad to know whether there is really a cure for it. I have had bathing the wrists and arms in brandy and water recommended, but did not find this very efficacious nor so pleasant; it seems to make the skin hard certainly, but also somewhat leathery in appearance.

A simpler and better remedy I found at a friend’s recommendation, in simply substituting moderately warm water without rubbing the skin too dry after, and applying some Vinolia powder (ladies, perhaps, would recommend certain soaps to use above others).

If constitutional, or brought on by nervousness, when playing in public in often too warm rooms, diligent practice (so as to feel thoroughly at home in what one plays) should help to alleviate the trouble, as also living generally, as near as circumstance may permit, up to thorough sanitary principles, in Prof. Jaeger’s wool clothing, cool room, etc.

Perseverance and regular practice will lead to mastership also in this most difficult art, as it is acknowledged to be, and no lover of it should therefore let hot hand stand between it and him, or her.

May I add that a good deal of strings breaking can also be saved by using those of Mr. Bon, Brading, I. of W. (see advt. in this journal), which also for durability I can only say are the most remarkable I ever have come across.

Yours very truly,