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Musical Instruments

Bass viola da gamba

Key data

Joachim Tielke, Hamburg, ca. 1708

Six strings, top spruce, sides and back maple, edges reinforced with ivory, two C-shaped sound holes, fingerboard and tailpiece adorned with tortoiseshell and ivory marquetry

L (incl. neck) 119.4 cm, L (corpus only) 68.4 cm

Inv. 1872.65.


Joachim Tielke (born 1641 in Königsberg, died 1719 in Hamburg) ranks among northern Germany’s most important luthiers. His instruments are of an exceptionally fine quality and in most cases artfully embellished. One hallmark of his work is the extensive use of ivory and tortoiseshell, which in the port city of Hamburg were doubtless easy to come by. Not that he squandered these costly materials: the sister instrument of this one at a museum in London has patterns done in ivory which here are done in tortoiseshell and vice versa. It follows that the “waste” created when sawing out the pattern was not discarded, but instead used to make a second instrument. A branded stamp on the inside of the instrument attests to its repair in the mid-19th century by one Simoutre, a Basel-based violin-maker. It is possible that the instrument was repaired in preparation for the first concerts of Early Music on period instruments.

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Basel Historical Museum
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Steinenberg 4
PO box
CH – 4001 Basel

Reception: +41 61 205 86 00

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