26 MAY 1939, Page 19

A Sycamore Fiddle The shire of Oxford, if not the

city and the University, is the home of coming causes: it becomes an accepted pioneer in certain lines of rural development. Its annual agricultural show, which displays increased vitality, is fortunately one of the first of the year ; and this summer has given a lead in its display both of rural crafts and rural education. The crafts- men are extending their skill to higher branches of art. One example—entirely novel to me, at any rate—was shown among the beautiful wood carvings. It was a fiddle cut out of a solid block of sycamore wood, unlike other fiddles, which consist of a back and sides made from different woods. The carving of this sycamore was of a peculiar delicacy and nicety ; and I am told that an instrument hie it was sold for £40 and was voted of high purity of tone. Iris worth notice that sycamore wood steadily advances in reputation. Though it seems a soft and almost too docile a wood to the forester, it has particular qualities of hardness in the eyes of the manu- facturer and carver ; and its lightness of tint gives it a distinc- tion not possessed by other hard woods. Its uses are already numerous ; whether the fiddle is to be permanently added to the list I do not know, but of the fineness of the workmanship there can be no question.