The 1748 Spinet Harpsichord
Jacob Kirkman, London
The Kirkman family of harpsichord makers, beginning with Jacob Kirkman, was the most prolific builder in London during the 18th century. Kirkman concentrated on the large harpsichords and the number of spinets made by the firm must never have exceeded a small fraction of the their total output.
This example, from 1748, is the earliest known and among the more well preserved. This spinet came to America when it was new and remained in the Brainerd family of Connecticut for over 150 years. The instrument was photographed by Wallace Nutting, well known for his colorized photographs of New England landscapes in the early 20th century, and was a hand tinted platinum print and was meant to be sold for home decoration. The photograph may be seen on the banner in the museum above this beautiful instrument.
(Editor’s note: Each month the website will feature one of the instruments from the collection along with information on its maker, its provenance and how it came to be part of the Carolina Music Museum.)