Benjamin Banks cello, Salisbury 1773
Known to history as "the English Amati", Benjamin Banks (1727-1795) was first apprenticed to his uncle, the instrument maker William Hutoft, at the age of 14. After Hutoft's death in 1747, Banks took over the workshop on Catherine Street in Salisbury until his own death in 1795. Following a period when he was mainly concerned with keyboard instruments (one is reminded of Bartolomeo Cristofori, the violin-making apprentice of Nicolò Amati who is most famous for having invented the piano), Banks' violins, violas, and cellos made their appearance in London in the late 1760s through the firm Longman & Broderip and were immediately recognized for the same masterful craftsmanship and sophistication as is found in the work of any of the best English luthiers. He worked primarily on an elegant Amati model, though was known to produce highly successful instruments on Stainer and Stradivari models. His cellos are particularly sought-after.