Double bass

Abraham Prescott (American, 1789–1858)

Object Place: Deerfield, New Hampshire, United States


Length 190 cm, width 68.2 cm (Length 74 13/16 in., width 26 7/8 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Maple, pine

Not On View


Americas, Musical Instruments



Two-piece back of slab-cut pine. Ribs and neck of plain maple. Brass plate (36 mm. wide) screwed across seam of lower ribs. Back of pegbox finished flat and covered with brass cap. Two-piece belly of slab-cut pine. Painted purfling in double-helix pattern. Elongated F-holes. Iron and brass worm- gear tuning machines with shield-shaped heads and brass center rods. Fingerboard and tailpiece of hardwood painted black; tailpiece connected by iron wire. Nut of ebony. Saddle and short endpin of hardwood. Roughly- shaped soundpost with gut string attached (for easy removal?). Dull orange- brown varnish. Interior construction: Footed neck *?* *?* lower block. Back and belly grooved to receive ribs; no liners or corner blocks. Bass-bar angled from bass side to center seam. Narrow cloth strips lining center seam of back and placed crosswise at intervals of about 100 mm.


Manuscript label: Bass Viols / Made and sold by / Abraham Prescott / Deerfield, N. H., Sept. 30, 1823 / No. 33


1823, sold by the artist to John Ashton, music publisher and instrument dealer, Boston, Massachusetts; after 1823, presumably sold by Ashton to the Rocky Hill Meeting House, Amesbury, Massachusetts; before 1987, acquired by Mr. Carnett, Amesbury, who indicated that the object was brought to his house from the meeting house many years prior; by 1987, sold by Mr. Carnett to Harold Priest, Damariscotta, Maine; 1987, sold by Priest to the MFA. (Accession Date: January 21, 1987)

Credit Line

Museum purchase with funds donated by Frank G. Webster