Highland bagpipe chanter

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possibly by Thomas Glen, Edinburgh, early 19th century

Postcard of Highland bagpipe chanter.
© National Museums Scotland

Highland bagpipe chanter

Highland bagpipe chanter, possibly by Thomas Glen of Edinburgh, early 19th 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.

Record details

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Online ID: 000-000-579-982-C
Image Rights Holder: National Museums Scotland
Project: 0869: The Bagpipe Collection
Project description | View all records in project
Ref: National Museums Scotland  K.2003.777 (2)
Date: Early 19th century (date of manufacture)
Material: Cocus wood, light hardwood and silver
Dimensions: 362 mm L
Who: Andrew Ross (successor to John and Robert Glen)
Glen and Ross Collection (musical instrument collection)
John and Robert Glen, Highland Bagpipe Makers
Reid School of Music, University of Edinburgh (place of display)
Thomas Glen (possible manufacturer)
Where: Scotland, Edinburgh (possible place of manufacture)
Event: Festival of Flanders Exhibition, 1968
Description: Cocus wood, light hardwood and silver mounted Highland bagpipe chanter.
  • Festival of Flanders Exhibition Catalogue. 1968, No. 114e.
  • Baines, Anthony,. Bagpipes. Occaisonal Paper on Technology 9, Oxford University Press, 1973. 
    Find in NLS: Title, Author, Title+Author or British Library: Title, Author, Title+Author
  • Cheape, Hugh,. A Checklist of Bagpipes in the Edinburgh University Collection of Historic Musical Instruments. Edinburgh: Reid School of Music, 1983, p. 27.
    Find in NLS: Title, Author, Title+Author or British Library: Title, Author, Title+Author
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