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date: 20 February 2020

Instruments, collections oflocked

  • Laurence Libin,
  • Arnold Myers,
  • Barbara Lambert
  •  and Albert R. Rice


Musical instruments are collected for many reasons — for use in performance, as objects of veneration or visual art, to furnish ethnological and historical evidence, to illustrate technological developments and serve as models for new construction, for financial investment and sale, and merely to satisfy curiosity. Amateur and professional musicians, wealthy aristocrats, religious and municipal bodies, schools and museums are among those who amass instruments for one reason or another. Criteria distinguishing successful modern collections include not merely size, but also quality and accessibility of holdings, condition and documentation of individual objects, and integrity or coherence of the whole. This article outlines the history of instrument collecting with attention to the motives and conditions that influence collectors, and deals with assemblages of musical instruments gathered intentionally and more or less permanently. Instruments awaiting dispersal (e.g. in a dealer’s or maker’s shop) or accumulated apparently by chance are considered only in passing....

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