Arthur Jermy, Violin maker of Kingsland, London (1867 - 1945)

A violin (with a broken bridge and only one string), made by Arthur Jermy of Kingsland, London in around 1920, together with two bows and a hard case, was sold for £691 on eBay in November 2016. Bidding had started at £14.95 and risen to £400 within a day of listing.

The maker of the violin, Arthur Jermy, was born on 14th August 1867 to James Jermy and Ann Coleman of Old Ford, Poplar. His father James was originally a cabinet maker, who subsequently took his family to Canada and Cleveland, Ohio to establish a Salvation Army presence in North America. The family had returned to London by April 1881, and Arthur was working as an insurance agent at the time of the 1891 census. When he married Louisa Burnett on 1 November 1897 in Stoke Newington, he listed his occupation as a Book Seller. The 1901 census shows the family living at 2 Castle Street, Stoke Newington, where he is listed as a Book Seller and Dealer. The 1911 census has them living at 3 Castle Street, Kingsland, with Arthur being a Dealer in Antiques and Books.

There is an entry for Arthur Jermy in the book British Violin Makers by Rev. W Meredith Morris, 1920. It states:

Jermy, Arthur, Kingsland, London: contemporary. He is a professional maker and repairer, and is said to be a clever artist. I regret I cannot say anything about his work, as I have not seen any of his instruments. He was born at Old Ford, London, in 1867, and has been established at 6 Crossway, Kingsland, for a number of years.

Arthur and his wife Louisa had three daughters, Ivy, Cecilia and Sylvia, the eldest of whom (Ivy) was known to be a violin player. The 1939 population register shows Arthur living at "The Nest", Greene Dene, Guildford. He is listed as an "Artist (Portrait Painter) Retired". He died on 28th April 1945 in East Horsley, Surrey.

The photographs below are those included in the eBay listing. The makers label can be partially seen through the F-Holes of the violin in images four and five, and Arthur's monogram is evident on the back of the violin in images six and seven.

Remarkably, there is a painting by Arthur Jermy at Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London. It is an oil on canvas portrait of the musician John Saunders, painted in 1925, measuring 92 x 71 cm. The notes about the painting (shown below) state:

John Saunders was a musician who played at the South Place Concerts for 27 years. He played in 239 concerts. His fellow musicians admired him so much that they clubbed together to buy him a Stradivarius in 1916. This portrait is painted over another fully formed painting of a man with shapely calves who stands in front of a lectern with a violin held loosely by his side. This underlying picture is just visible as trails in the paint texture when the painting is viewed from the side.

On the strength of the above description, I presume it is the Stradivarius that features in the painting, rather than one of Arthur Jermy's own.

In 2015 there was a portrait of a Sylvia Jermy, painted by her father Arthur Jermy, listed on eBay. At the time I could not connect the painting with anyone in particular. However, it is now clear that the portrait was painted by the above Arthur Jermy. The annotation on the back of the painting stating that it was completed at Nest Studios, East Horsley, Surrey, confirms this.

Rev. W. Meredith Morris. 1920. British Violin Makers. 2nd edition. Robert Scott. London.

Portrait of John Saunders, by Arthur Jermy - 1925
Image Copyright Townley Valuation Services Ltd

Portrait of his daughter Sylvia, by Arthur Jermy, circa 1935

Annotation on back of painting