American bass viol

about 1825–30
Abraham Prescott (American, 1789–1858)

Object Place: Deerfield, New Hampshire, United States


Length 129 cm, width 47.7 cm (Length 50 13/16 in., width 18 3/4 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Maple, pine

Not On View


Americas, Musical Instruments



Two-piece back of maple with medium curl descending from the joint (becoming slab cut at edges). Ribs and neck similar. Maple wedge (5 mm. maximum thickness) between neck and fingerboard. Back of pegbox finished flat. Two- piece belly (with wings) of medium-to-wide grain pine. Traditional purfling. Elongated F-holes with offset notches. Brass worm-gear tuning machines with oval heads and brass center rods. Fingerboard of maple (originally painted black). Tailpiece and endpin socket of hardwood painted black. Nut and saddle of ebony. Old maple bridge of unusual design. Orange-brown varnish. Interior construction: Footed neck on platform carved from back, with one screw going downward into platform. Rectangular lower block with chamfered corners. Liners appear to be later; back and belly possibly originally grooved to receive ribs. No corner blocks. Bass bar angled from bass side to center seam.


Printed label: MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS, / MANUFACTURED AND FOR SALE BY / ABRAHAM PRESCOTT, / DEERFIELD, N. H. / BASS VIOL AND VIOLIN STRINGS / AND BOWS, / CONSTANTLY ON HAND. / Also--Silk, Cotton, and Oil'd Cloth / UMBRELLAS, / FOR SALE OR REPAIRED; fragment of label (or newspaper advertisement) glued partially over main label: ..[eve]ry desc[ription] ... / ... Store in this or any other ... /; Sword and other Canes ... / ... Drums; Violins, Bass ... / ... with extra keys; Bassoons, Serpe[nts] ... / ... Horns, Kent and E. flat Bugles, Trum[pets] ... / ... and ... ngs and ... / .y ot... / ... [ke]ys (silver ... / ... at the shortest not[ice] ... / ... [Musical Instruments ... / ...


1965, sold by Otto van Kopenhagan, cello professor at Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, to the MFA. (Accession Date: May 27, 1987)

Credit Line

William Lindsey Fund