John Betts (1752-1823)
In 1765, around the age of 13, John Betts made the 160 kilometer journey to London from his hometown of Stamford. In London, he apprenticed as a luthier with Richard Duke, one of the city’s most notable violinmakers of the 18th century. A very successful employee, Betts assumed the role of shop foreman after seven years, and later purchased the business from Duke’s daughter.
Betts had opened his own shop by 1781 and left an indelible mark on the British violin world through his skilled workshop and expertise. He employed several of the finest British craftsmen of the 18th and 19th centuries, such as Vincenzo Panormo, Henry Lockey Hill, and Bernard Simon Fendt (both Sr. and Jr.). In addition to making new instruments, Betts imported many fine old Italian works into England and greatly contributed to Antonio Stradivari’s recognition in the country. London’s place as a hub for luthiery in the 19th century was due in large part to John Betts’ leadership.
The Betts workshop was especially well-known for their cellos. Our instrument is an exceptionally fine example with a bold, sonorous tone. Built on a beautiful model of modest size, this cello will be an exciting companion for a professional cellist.