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James Cole Bass

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by MarkH, Feb 3, 2005.


  1. MarkH

    MarkH

    Apr 12, 2003
    London, U.K.
    Hi there,

    I'm in the market for a new bass and have been looking at Hawkes etc, but today I came across an English bass, circa 1880s, built by James Cole that looks very interesting.

    Has anyone any experience of these basses, or any info on James Cole himself?

    Thanks.
     
  2. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    Sounds like you are shopping at Gallery Strings huh?... Cole and Cole Jr. (check to make sure which one they have for sure) worked in Manchester. Cole Sr. worked for Tarr and later for Craske. Opinions are mixed about his work..

    The Best English Makers include Forster, Panormo, Fendt, Lott, Kennedy and Gilkes....

    I own 2 English Basses. One is a Samuel Gilkes, 1811 http://www.kensmithbasses.com/DoubleBasses/GilkesBass/GilkesBass.htm and the other is an 18th century large Gamba style English Bass http://www.kensmithbasses.com/DoubleBasses/MysteryBass/name_that_bass.htm

    Good English Basses used to be called "the Poor Mans Italian Bass" but now many of them are up there along side of the Italians with some of the Best English work costing even more..

    A few Italian Bass/Violin Masters are untouchable even by the best English....

    I don't know what price they are asking for the Cole but you can PM me if you like. It's all about the sound. If you like it, make sure the asking price is worth the condition and pedigree as well. My Gilkes might be going to market shortly as well because I will soon have 4 fine Orchestra quality Basses and 1 or 2 is all I need to fill my needs.
     
  3. AMJBASS

    AMJBASS Supporting Member

    Jan 8, 2002
    Ontario, Canada
    From the Elgar book:

    Cole, James. Worked at Manchester in the second half of the 19th century. Basses are very well made with red oil varnish. Viol model, soundly porportioned and with a good tone.

    I have always liked the look of the English Gamba basses. The are usually wonderful sounding instruments. Good luck with your search!
     
  4. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    I looked up Cole in 4 Books. Only Elgar makes refrence to Cole Jr., "Son and similar work to the father, slightly smaller Basses".

    Neither Henley, Stainer (100 year old book) or Morris ("British Violin Makers", 100 year old book) make refrence to Cole Jr..
     
  5. I had a buddy who had a James Cole....a total jazz ass kicker and with the bow big, big sound!
     
  6. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    Yes Paul, they do sound good. Thats why they start aroung 40K for English Basses now. Cole, Callow, Tarr, etc from the English midlands were good makers from the middle of the 19th century but not the best of the English.

    The better makers from the London area include Forster, Panormo, Fendt, Lott, Kennedy and Gilkes as I had mentioned before. The Prices for those Basses start near 'Double' the price and can easily run 'Tripple' for the Best English Basses as I have seen one recently at $140k. I am sure there are others out there in that class if not even better. Only a Few Italian Basses at that point can Rival that of the Top English Class. These Great English Basses are in rare supply but are cherished by those that have touched them.
     
  7. Pete G

    Pete G

    Dec 31, 2001
    Northern Virginia
    As they should be. One of the great "drool cup" moments of my life was visiting Tony Houska's Contrabass Shoppe in London several years ago. Tony virtually ordered me to try out every bass in his shop, and he had an astonishing collection of "name" basses, both British and Italian. I find even a decent Hawkes impressive, but then when you play a Fendt...
     
  8. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    KENOSABE - so Vincenzo is considered an English maker and not an Italian maker?
     
  9. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    I think that The Basses made in England by Panormo are more English that Italian in looks and sound, hence English. Techler was from Austria but settled in Rome, hence Italian.. Lott was German but settled in England.. hence English... What do you think?
     
  10. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Barrie did a side by side of an Italian Panormo and an English Panormo in DOUBLE BASSIST a coupla years ago. Other than some minor dimensional differences, they seemed remarkably similar.

    Of course, I got to play neither...
     
  11. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    Interesting..... But all the Panormos I have seen picture of were made in England and resemble the Grand 7/8 violin shouldered English school Basses which are similar to Dodd ( made by Fendt and Lott) in the same period.
     
  12. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Do you have that issue of DB? If not, I can try to scan some pitchers and upload'em.
     
  13. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    No I don't, plz scan them for me/us.. It would be great to see this article.
     
  14. nicklloyd

    nicklloyd Supporting Member/Luthier

    Jan 27, 2002
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    The majority of Vincenzo's output, and life, was spent in England. So he's considered an English maker, and one of the most important ones, at that.
     
  15. Ike Harris

    Ike Harris

    May 16, 2001
    Nashville TN
    Here's a segment from Paul Brun's book about Dragonetti's influence in England.

    "By all accounts, Dragonetti created a great stimulus in England, causing many to take up the double bass. ....As a result of his new found credit and increasing usage, the double bass prospered in the first half of the 19th century. Sales jumped, quality double basses met heavy demand and commanded high prices in the London market. Such a remarkable prosperity fostered the development of outstanding talents in the bass making trade: Vincenzo Panormo and his sons, Joseph and George, all working for John Betts; Berhard Fendt Sr. and John Lott I, employed by Thomas Dodd; the Forsters, whose principal, William II, employed by Thomas Kennedy, without forgetting Hill, Gilkes, Valentine, or Wamsley. It is remarkable that these makers seem to have excelled with their double basses and that their names are usually associated with them. Violins, violas, and cellos by these makers are usually of less importance."
     
  16. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    W.Forster II (old Forster) trained W.Forster III and HE 'employed' Kennedy... Gilkes trained his son Simon Andrew Forster and Gilkes was also the shop Journeyman/foreman... William IV also worked in the shop. That Shop closed in 1819. Kennedy went on his own somewhere in that period and William Forster IV worked and trained further with Kennedy.. William II was out of the picture by then.. dead and Burried (d.1808).. S.Gilkes (b.1787?) was trained by Charles Harris (period 1780-1800+ approx) when Samuel was very young.. They say they were related in some way. Gilkes also trained C.Harris II and John Hart maybe in the Harris Sr. shop.. Later, Gilkes worked in the same shop as Kennedy with/for W.Forster III but it is un-known if they ever worked together on anything or even in the same period....... I am still studying the English School of making... It will take the rest of my life to learn half of it as they too have a 400 year old history as well in string instruments.

    Kennedy was about 86 years old when he died.. Gilkes died at 40 years old (1827). His son William Gilkes (b.1811) was only 16 when Samuel died as he carried on the Gilkes tradition and died in 1875. There are very few authentic works with the S.Gilkes Label/Brand as most of his work was for Harris and Forster and credited with their name and NOT his.

    Gilkes was either a young Genius or was born earlier as his talent seems too great to be only a teenager and master Violin/Cello/Bass maker at the same time.. Then again.. that was life over 200 years ago.. No pre-school programs I guess....lol
     
  17. MarkH

    MarkH

    Apr 12, 2003
    London, U.K.
    Hi Guys,

    Thanks so much for the info (both public and private!!)

    I’ve now had the bass on approval for a few days and have done the rounds of bass repairers/builders etc (all of whom see at least one or two Coles on a regular basis) looking for advice and guidence.

    All say that it’s not a Cole at all and is much more likely a German bass circa 1880, but only worth only half the price!!

    They’re all concerned that there’s no stamp or label, the perfling is incorrect for a Cole and the shoulders are simply not in his style.
    It turns out, that it desperately needs a new neck, endpin and extensive work done to the bar.
    Plus, there’s severe depression at the front, and the bass has obviously been kept in an extremely dry environment.!!

    I have to say I’m pretty disappointed in it’s sellers and the whole process.I travelled a long way to collect this bass and added it to my existing insurance policy for no small amount.

    It’s a shame because I took a real shine to it, it’s has an enormous cubic capacity.
    Close up, the G-string sounds like a cannon going off at New Years Eve and looks wise, it has real character.

    Supposedly it has sat in a large collection for years and has hardly ever been played. I get the feeling that all it wants to do now is find a good home and somebody who'll put it through it’s paces!

    Perhaps, instead of worrying about names, pedigree etc I should offer 1/2 the asking price cash (reflecting it’s real value), have the work done and get it back on the bandstand.

    Any thoughts??

    Mark.
     
  18. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    Wether it is Cole or not I suggest you buy the Bass only if you like it. It looks nice and maybe sounds good too BUT this is Your Bass and not ours.. If the Bass needs repairs as you have said, offer the price you mentioned (1/2.. $20k usd?) and then deduct for the repairs. Have a different shop do the repairs if necessary. The Bass Gallery seems to be a reputable place but mistakes of Identity are not uncommon within the best of authorities.

    Remember, Cole DID work with Tarr. Tarr is reported to have imported Basses, unfinished from Germany.. Maybe from Nuener, and finished them in England. Many Tarr Basses look Germanic in appearance. This Bass COULD be a real Cole either partial or wholly made as his Tarr period and after left that Germanic/Gamba style impression. Kolstein had a Callow Bass recently of a similar design with a raised neck block like the Germans.

    Remember that England up to the 1920s still made 3-string Basses as well and it was the German music and their Basses that influenced them to go to 4-string as well as the Import process to meet the demand for German model 4-string Basses as seen in the Orchestras visiting England to perform.
     
  19. Tim Ludlam

    Tim Ludlam

    Dec 19, 1999
    Carmel, IN
    Ken and Ed - I have that issue right in front of me. Autumn/Winter 1998 - Number 7. Is it legal to scan the article and post? I looked in the Double Bassists archives, and they do not go back to 1998.
     
  20. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    Sure.. as long as it is not for commercial use or sale.. You bought it and can share it with you friends just the same way as if you let us borrow it one by one.... IF you make copies and sell them, Then you can be in hot water.. I make copies from books all the time to show what I have read or learned, And I am not going to Jail for it.. At least not yet.....lol