A very successful violin maker and businessman in London from 1743, Richard Duke was born in 1718, and may have gained his first experience in the shop of Daniel Wright in Holborn. There is however a violin which bears the label of William Duke in Holborn dated 1727, which may be the work of Richard’s father. His first shop was in Lambs Conduit Passage, but by 1757 he had moved to Red Lion Street and from there to Great Turnstile, Holborn in 1760. Duke’s output was prodigious and variable, and he clearly employed many other craftsmen, including John Carter, and Edward and John Betts. His shops retailed all manner of musical items from printed sheet music to harpsichords. He died in 1783 and the shop passed to his daughter Anne. The business was effectively continued by John Betts, the dominant maker in London during the following period. Duke’s son Richard (II), also a violin maker, had evidently become estranged from his father and worked from separate addresses from 1777.
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