The Business of Musical-Instrument Making in Early Industrial London

Nex, Jennifer Susan. 2013. The Business of Musical-Instrument Making in Early Industrial London. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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This thesis is an exploration of musical-instrument making as a craft-based industry in London between c1760 and c1820. It is built upon an examination of a wide range of historical sources which have been used to gain an insight into the context of and processes involved in the operational side of this trade. As such, it is the first attempt to understand instrument making as a whole from a socio-economic perspective. Traditionally, organological projects have grown from an interest in surviving instruments and, as a result, have been focussed in general on the individual (usually male) whose name is inscribed on instruments and who was usually the founder of the firm. The tacit assumption has been that this person was responsible for all aspects of the instrument’s production. I will demonstrate that in fact most firms relied on the contributions of more than one person and that women played a role which has largely remained unseen. I argue that in order to understand musical-instrument making more fully, we also need to place it in the context of the markets that makers were addressing and to explore the influence that different markets had on businesses. I examine the internal structures of the firms in terms of personnel and their relationships, focussing firstly on women and the family business and then on working practices and how labour was distributed. Furthermore, my examination of the monetary operations of firms helps us to see how they were managed and can be used to locate businesses within broader employment and financial structures. This work gives us not only a more grounded view of instrument making as a whole than has previously been attempted, but also offers the opportunity of placing it alongside comparable artisanal enterprises working in the same environment.

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Thesis (Doctoral)

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Date Deposited:

17 Dec 2013 12:35

Last Modified:

08 Sep 2022 08:45


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