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Highland bagpipe chanter

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possibly by Thomas Glen, Edinburgh, early 19th century

Highland bagpipe chanter
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Highland bagpipe chanter, possibly by Thomas Glen of Edinburgh, early19th century. Open standing square silver F sharp key mounted in saddle for right hand thumb, and closed square silver B key mounted in saddle for left hand thumb. Cocus wood, sole of light hardwood turned separately, stained, and fitted in the conventional fashion. Formerly stock of J. and R. Glen, Edinburgh, or from the collection of the firm's proprietors.

Thomas McBean Glen (1804-1873) was the founder of a notable firm of bagpipe makers in Edinburgh. He set up business as dealer, musical instrument and bagpipe repairer in the Cowgate in 1827. From 1833 he listed himself as 'pipe and flute maker' in the Edinburgh Directories, and made a range of woodwind instruments including flutes and clarinets. He is also credited with the invention of a type of Ophicleide. In 1836 he moved his premises to the more prestigious position of 2 North Bank Street and remained in business until 1866 when he was succeeded by his sons John and Robert. Many of his musical instrument products have survived including flutes, Highland bagpipes and small pipes. He also published a 'Tutor for the Highland Bagpipe'.

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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