In March the
world of violins and musicians lost one of the greatest case
makers who ever lived, Michael Gordge of M.A. Gordge Cases,
Mike worked for
many years at the W.E. Hill & Sons firm, building the famous
Hill cases, until Hill closed and Mike founded his own
business. His cases were well known for their meticulous
quality of construction and understated, very British style
to which he remained faithful over the years despite
changing customer tastes and markets.
profession, one tends to make the distinction between
colleagues and competitors. For me, Mike was a colleague and
a friend, and I think this was possible because we both
respected each other and never was tempted to copy one
another's work or ideas. Although we actually never met in
person, we spoke often over the phone, sharing technical
views and trading gossip. Since the late 1980s my company
imported his cases for customers on the Italian market, and
his were the only ones to which my workshop offered
maintenance service, in addition to my own.
I think that the
best way to remember Mike is by his work, so I have prepared
this page as a tribute to it. The case pictured is one of
the last he made, a De Luxe model built in 2007 destined to
the U.S. market, as the instrument suspension and hygrometer
- two items Mike wasn't particularly fond of - will testify.
single image it is easy for even the untrained eye to see
and appreciate the symmetry and supreme tidiness of his
work, while the professional eye will note the minimal
tolerances in the construction, a sure indication of the
amount of care he put into his work. A few details may
appear at odds with one another, but like with an English
automobile, this only increases the case's personality
rather than detracting from it. I am fortunate to have been
able to acquire this particular case, new and unused, for my
collection, as it is well-representative of his work.
There seems to be
an unwritten rule that Master Case Makers aren't awarded the
same esteem and recognition that Master Violin Makers
receive, despite an often superior creativity. I feel
however that with Mike Gordge an exception should be made.
His passing didn't make the front page, nonetheless it has
impoverished the world of case making, forever.
Mike and his work
will be missed by many.
Update: The assets, equipment, and name "M.A. Gordge" have
since been purchased by a Canadian firm with the purpose of
continuing the production of these cases.