Violin and case, wood, made by Alfred Walter Heaps, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 1884
This violin is dated 1884 which suggests it was made before Afred Walter Heaps set up his own business in Oxford Street Paddington in 1885. There is also another inscription, 'A.W.H. 1885', so Heaps must have opened the violin again the following year - presumably for a modification or repair.
A W (Alfred Walter) Heaps [1854-1906] was a skilled stringed instrument maker based in Paddington, Sydney. Alfred Heaps was born in Leeds and apprenticed as a violin maker to Handel Pickard of Leeds. He later worked for his father, John Knowles Heaps who was also a talented instrument maker.
A W Heaps migrated to Australia in 1876 to accept a position with Hamburger Bros, a wholesale house. He soon gained a reputation as skilled repairer of musical instruments and the increasing demand for his services led him to set up his own business as a musical instrument repairer and maker of instruments of the violin family.
Alfred Heaps was highly regarded both locally and by visiting musicians. The noted cellist, Edgar Straus who toured Australia in 1888 had a cello made for him by Heaps and was so impressed he ordered a second before he returned to San Francisco. In 1892 the celebrated Belgian violinist Ovide Musin came to Australia. He entrusted his Gagliano and another violin to Heaps for repairs and adjustment. Musin had the opportunity of trying out some of Heaps violins and they pleased him so much that he wrote Heaps a note saying "You are one of the best violin makers I have met in my long artistic career".
The business operated until Alfred died suddenly in 1906 aged 52.
Reference: Archive, music and violin makers, E.A. Crome, Sydney held by Powerhouse Museum (88/1167).