A rare 18th century spinet by Joseph Harris, London, circa 1757, in a line inlaid walnut case

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Lot 30
A rare 18th century spinet by Joseph Harris, London, circa 1757, in a line inlaid walnut case

Sold for £ 9,840 (US$ 13,534) inc. premium
A rare 18th century spinet by Joseph Harris, London, circa 1757, in a line inlaid walnut case
Of canted and shaped outline, with ornamental engraved brass hinges, hasp and lock plate, painted inside, angled keyboard lid, on a separate block and baluster turned stand united by angled rail stretchers, on four cabriole legs terminating in claw and ball carved feet incorporating brass castors, 191cm wide, 72cm deep, 85cm high.

Footnotes

  • See illustrations

    Ref; James(P); Early Keyboard Instruments
    Page 111; "PLATE XXXI SPINET BY JOSEPH HARRIS, ENGLISH 1757. This is a fine example of the English spinet in its most fully developed form. The compass of five octaves is usual at this period. The front of the nameboard is inscribed in gold JOSEPH HARRIS, LONDON, MDCCLVII, and on the back of it a piece of parchment is pasted bearing the following inscription in a contemporary hand: "This is not one of my Comon Instruments But the Best Ton'd I Ever Made. Joseph Harris. London 1756." The maker's claim that it is a special instrument is supported by the presence of two stops which are very seldom found on spinets, although they were a usual feature of the contemporary harpsichords: the strings are as usual stretched in pairs, and one of each pair is muted by the stop regulated at the left of the nameboard, and the other by the one on the right. Both of these buff stops must therefore be used together. The case is of figured walnut inlaid with lines of sycamore, and the stand is of mahogany, with turned balusters, supported on cabriole legs with claw-and-ball feet.

    Joseph Harris and his son John were both well known instrument makers. The latter went to Boston, Mass., in 1768 and an interesting extract from the Boston Gazette, 18th September 1769 (quoted by Dow, p.301), claims the first spinet to be made in America to have been his work: "It is with pleasure that we inform the public, that a few days since was shipped for Newport, a very curious Spinnet, being the first ever made in America, the performance of the ingenious Mr.John Harris, of Boston (Son of the late Mr.Joseph Harris of London, Harpsichord and Spinnet Maker), and in every respect does Honor to that Artist."

    "Mr B.Coppinger Prichard. Exhibited at the Burlington Fine Arts Club, Winter Exhibition, 1927-28."

    There is no parchment attached to this instrument.

Saleroom notices

  • Please note that a paper label is indeed pasted to the back of the nameboard, inscribed in ink as per the footnote (see image). Also inscribed to the back of the nameboard in pencil 'Restored by H J Ingram 1919'.
A rare 18th century spinet by Joseph Harris, London, circa 1757, in a line inlaid walnut case
A rare 18th century spinet by Joseph Harris, London, circa 1757, in a line inlaid walnut case
A rare 18th century spinet by Joseph Harris, London, circa 1757, in a line inlaid walnut case
A rare 18th century spinet by Joseph Harris, London, circa 1757, in a line inlaid walnut case
A rare 18th century spinet by Joseph Harris, London, circa 1757, in a line inlaid walnut case
A rare 18th century spinet by Joseph Harris, London, circa 1757, in a line inlaid walnut case
A rare 18th century spinet by Joseph Harris, London, circa 1757, in a line inlaid walnut case
A rare 18th century spinet by Joseph Harris, London, circa 1757, in a line inlaid walnut case
A rare 18th century spinet by Joseph Harris, London, circa 1757, in a line inlaid walnut case
A rare 18th century spinet by Joseph Harris, London, circa 1757, in a line inlaid walnut case
A rare 18th century spinet by Joseph Harris, London, circa 1757, in a line inlaid walnut case
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