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Bass and tenor drone for a set of half-size Highland bagpipes

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by Alexander Glen, Edinburgh, c. 1840

Bass and tenor drone for a set of half-size Highland bagpipes
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Bass and tenor drone for a set of Highland bagpipes, half-size, by Alexander Glen of Edinburgh, c. 1840. Cocus wood, mounted with an ivory sole piece and bulb between the neck and the tenon. Bass drone with three joints; tenor drones each with two joints. Cocus wood turned with full beading and combing decoration, with bone and ivory mounts. Formerly stock of J. and R. Glen, Edinburgh, or from the collection of the firm's proprietors.

Alexander Glen (1801-1873) was a founder member of the Glen bagpipe making family or 'dynasty' in Edinburgh. He was born in Inverkeithing, Fife, and was an older brother of Thomas McBean Glen (1804-1873). He is known to have had premises in West Register Street and Saint Andrew Square from 1846 until 1869, and was making a variety of bagpipes as an advertisement of 1847 shows. These were mainly different sizes of Highland bagpipe but he included 'Union or Lowcountry pipes of all descriptions made to order'. He began publishing bagpipe music with a Complete Tutor for the Highland Bagpipe in 1840 and The Piper's Assistant in 1843 with Angus Mackay.

This piece comes from the Glen and Ross Collection of musical instruments which were preserved in the shop of 'J & R Glen, Highland Bagpipe Makers' until it closed about 1978. This was the business founded in 1827 by Thomas McBean Glen in the Cowgate in Edinburgh, dealing in and repairing musical instruments. His brother, Alexander Glen, specialized in bagpipe-making and was succeeded by his son David. Thomas' sons, John and Robert Glen, succeeding to the business in 1866, probably did most to collect instruments and their antiquarian interests were carried on by Andrew Ross who acquired the business from the Glens in 1947. The National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland purchased the bagpipe collections from the family in 1983.

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