American bass viol

Benjamin Whittemore Willard (American, 1762–1848)

Object Place: Lancaster, Massachusetts, United States


Length 122 cm, width 42.7 cm (Length 48 1/16 in., width 16 13/16 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Pine, maple

Not On View


Americas, Musical Instruments



Two-piece back of wide-grain pine (?). Ribs of plain maple (?). Later neck of maple with irregular curl. Original pegbox/scroll. Two-piece belly of wide-grain pine. Painted purfling, interrupted at top of back by a series of six crosses. Painted purfling also outlining pegbox. F-holes connected at lower end. Tuning pegs (later) and fingerboard of black painted/stained hardwood. Tailpiece of dark stained oak or ash with brass wire “tail-gut” soldered to brass medallion projecting through top. Ebony nut. Endpin socket of rosewood. Later bridge. Red-brown varnish. Interior construction: Later neck block, but platform carved from back for footed neck. Original (?) narrow lower block. Traditional liners (thin) and corner blocks. Bassbar appears to run in line with grain.


Manuscript label: Benj. W. Willard / Lancaster, Mass / No 60. 1810; printed repair label: Restored by / JOHN A. GOULD & SONS / [ESTABLISHED 1889] / Violin Makers, Dealers and Repairers / BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS / [handwritten: Sept. 1957]; in pencil on underside of bridge: Lubde[...?]


1987, sold by Harold Priest, Damariscotta, Maine, to the MFA. (Accession Date: January 21, 1987)

Credit Line

Frank B. Bemis Fund