Date MadeCirca 1650
DescriptionSoundboard of spruce, of two pieces joined in the centre, both with close grain, though not necessarily bookmatched. The present bridge is of two sections, a lower layer which has the length of an original bridge, aligning with the mustachios at either end, but is wider and only 2.5mm high, and another bridge glued to the top, through which the strings pass. This upper bridge is of stained maple topped with a thin (c 1mm) piece of ebony surrounded by bands of ivory. The mustachios either side of the bridge are of ebony with ivory raised sections. Below the bridge is an inlaid design of ivory, black mastic and mother-of-pearl, consisting of a vase with flowers. Surrounding the rosehole (83mm diameter) is a geometric design, consisting of an inner ring of black mastic with inlaid mother-of-pearl diamonds, surrounded by thin bands of ivory/mastic/ivory on either side, and then a six-petalled flower of ebony with inlaid ivory, edged by the mastic with inlaid diamond design. The soundboard is edged with ivory, with the black mastic and inlaid mother-of-pearl diamond design inside. An inlaid vase and flower design is on the soundboard neck extension and onto the top of the soundboard, echoing the design below the bridge. The back and sides are of alternate strips of ebony and ivory with thin alternate lines in between the wider strips. The sides consist of five wide strips, and the back of 16 strips at the widest point. At the bottom of the guitar is a thin band (8mm wide) of black mastic with inlaid mother-of-pearl diamonds. The band is edged with ivory. There is an ivory end button. The back and sides have been veneered onto a core of fine-grained spruce. The neck and heel join with a sharp edge. The sides of the head are edged with alternate strips of ebony and ivory, nine strips in total. The neck has been truncated in length, now 222mm long, 55mm wide at the body join and 50mm wide at the nut. There are 10 ebony tuning pegs. Technical description: The present neck length is 223mm. There are 6 soundbars on the back of the guitar, set at an angle to the length, possibly not original. The soundboard has three soundbars, one just above the soundhole, another just below, and the third placed mid-way between the lower soundbar and the bridge. The soundhole diameter is 83; the bottom is 257mm from the bottom of the guitar. The soundboard wood protrudes 48mm up the neck. The nut is unoriginal, the peghead and pegs are original. Repair History: The instrument has been converted to six single strings from the original five courses. The neck was originally c 305mm long, and the string length c 655mm. The top plaque has been reduced by 20mm in length due to the shortening of the neck, and there was probably also a fourth plaque which is now totally missing. The rosehole probably originally containing a decorative rose design. The bridge is a replacement. The ebony tuning pegs are not original. Overall size: 847mm Body length: 445mm Body width, upper bouts: 196mm Body width, waist: 171mm Body width, lower bouts:248 mm Body depth: 94mm (bottom) - 91mm (heel) String length: 569mm Signature marks: The instrument is unsigned and undated. There is a museum number "1869.9.34" painted in white at the bottom of the soundboard, and a circular label inside the instrument also recording museum ownership. Decoration: The back of the neck and the heel are veneered in ebony with an ivory floral/vine pattern, similar to that found on some signed Venetian guitars (for example, the Sellas instruments in the Victoria and Albert Museum). This vinework pattern is continued in the centre of the back of the head, surrounded by an engraved design on ivory. The fingerboard consists of oblong ivory plaques with engraved images, edged with black mastic with inlaid mother-of-pearl diamonds, and with inlaid mother-of-pearl sections between the curved ends of the ivory plaques. The top of the head is decorated with three plaques, surrounded by a floral design engraved ivory border. The soundboard has ebony moustaches, and is inlaid with ebony, ivory and mother of pearl. The floral design on the back of the neck has been truncated where the neck has been shortened. The fingerboard and peghead have been inlaid with engravings of mother of pearl of the finest quality. The sides and back are of alternate strips of ebony and ivory, with similar reversed spacers. There are traces of parchment around the soundhole to suggest it originally had a pierced rose. Repair History: The instrument was originally a 5-course guitar, converted at the end of the eighteenth or start of the nineteenth century to 6-string. The neck was shortened as part of this process, the original string length being c 685.
NotesD.P. Martin, 27.10.93, 2003.
ProvenanceAcquired with mandolin (3374) by the Edinburgh Museum of Science and Art in 1869; according to Hipkins and Gibb (1888), formerly belonged to Charles Kirkpatrick Sharpe of Hoddam, Dumfriesshire.; Lent by the National Museums of Scotland, 1869.9.34.