American bass viol

Benjamin Crehore (American, 1765–1831)

Object Place: Dorchester, Massachusetts, United States


Length 132 cm, width 54.6 cm (Length 51 15/16 in., width 21 1/2 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Maple, pine, ebony

Not On View


Americas, Musical Instruments



One-piece back of slab-cut maple. Ribs of maple with faint medium curl. Later neck of maple with wide irregular curl. Original massive scroll with wide ears, made from two pieces of maple. Two-piece belly of wide-grain white pine (seam off-center). No purfling. Large-headed tuning pegs (one later) of stained maple. Fingerboard, nut (both later), and saddle of ebony. Short endpin of maple painted/stained black. Dark red-brown varnish. Interior construction: Later neck block, but platform carved from back for footed neck. Short, closely-spaced pine triangular liners along all of back and much of belly. Small corner blocks (later?). Long thin bassbar (later?) with with additional short and wide bassbar alongside.


Manuscript label: Made & Sold by / Benjamin Crehore at / Dorchester 1788


1902, likely included in an exhibition sponsored by Chickering & Sons, Horticultural Hall, Boston, Massachusetts. Before 1916, according to William H. Howe, formerly used at the Old South Church, Weymouth, Massachusetts. Early 1970s, purchased at auction, Cambridge, Massachusetts, by Harold Priest, Harvard, Massachusetts; 1976, sold by Priest to the MFA. (Accession Date: June 9, 1976)

Credit Line

Otis Norcross Fund