Remarkable Objects

GLASS MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS

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The archives relating to the Soho Manufactory in Birmingham provide an insight into the many uses to which glass has been put.

There are references to quadrant glass, painted glass, lamp glass, window glass, drinking glasses, spectacles, glass tubes, engraved glass to prevent forgeries, looking glasses, glass frames, glass houses, the glass trade, even isinglass (a substance obtained from the dried swim bladders of fish)! One of the more unusual mentions is of glass used to make musical instruments.

In a letter from Charles Clagget in Waterford, where he had a music warehouse, to James Watt in Birmingham, dated 16 January 1782, Clagget includes a sketch of an instrument called an ‘Ado’. This was an instrument he had heard of in London, made with glass bars in a frame. Clagget asks about the costs for the bars. [MS 3219/4/94/1]

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Glass Soho Watt Birmingham