Cross, Nathaniel (DNB00)

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CROSS, NATHANIEL (18th cent.), was one of the best English violin-makers. He worked at the sign of the Bass Viol in St. Paul's Churchyard, and in Aldermanbury, in the early part of the eighteenth century. He long worked in partnership with Barak Norman, probably from about 1720 to 1740, when the latter died. Their joint label reads, ‘ Barak Norman and Nathaniel Cross, at the Bass Violin, St. Paul's Churchyard, London, fecit 172–.’ Prior to this he used a printed label, of which Sandys and Forster record a specimen, which reads: ‘Nathanaeli Crosso Stainero, fecit, No. 2417.’ It is absurd to suppose that he could have made 2417 instruments in his life, and chronology renders it impossible that he should have been a pupil of Stainer. He was principally a maker of violoncellos, which are of a small size, and are varnished a greyish yellow colour, the varnish being of a thin and chippy substance. His work is very good, and most of his instruments have the monogram N. B. (which is found in all Barak Norman's instruments) inlaid in the centre of the back and on the breast under the finger-board. For this reason his instruments are often sold as Norman's; but the work is quite different, and cannot be confused. The monogram may, in fact, be either Barak Norman or their two christian names, Nathaniel and Barak. In the few violins by Cross which we know we find the cross which he printed on his labels stamped in the wood, and as a rule the letters N. C. are branded inside the back. His violins are rather large, and of a high model, resembling that of Jacob Stainer, whom he professed to copy. The bass bar is often made in one piece with the breast instead of cut separately and affixed; his edges are always well sunk in and finished. He was alive in 1751, but the exact date of his death is not known.

[J. M. Fleming's Old Violins; Sandy's and Forster's History of the Violin; instruments exhibited at Inventions Exhibition, 1885.]

E. H.-A.