111.222 Sets of percussion plaques

A glockenspiel (also previously known as 'harmonicon') comprising six rectangular brass keys mounted on embossed brass resonators, all graduated in size, with two beaters and sheet music. The keys and resonators are unsigned but conform to those in the 1884 UK patent #5320 of Richard Plant and Edmund Perry of Birminham, England for 'Augmenting the Sound of the Notes of a Harmonicon or of a Gong'. The sole licencee was William Frederick Needham of Birmingham (active 1888-1901), a maker of bamboo furniture, who probably made the (now missing) original stand. The instrument plays a six note chord of E-flat major in second inversion. Its pitch is close to a:440Hz. Each plaque has its note name inscribed on it in staff notation M550a-1998 B-flat3, M550b-1998 E-flat4 , M550c-1998 G4,M550d-1998 B-flat4, M550e-1998 E-flat5, M550f-1998 G5. Each key sits on four pads of rubber on top of each resonator and is affixed to it with two screws that pass through the plaque at the nodal points, surmounted by screw threads with red felt washers below. The screws originally had small rubber(?) collars to prevent the metal threads from touching the plaques, and these only survive on M550d-1998. The plaques and resonators are suspended from a pine frame (P1072) which can be dismantled using a .5mm. diameter Allen key. The frame was made in April 2021 by Alistair Mackillop of the Horniman Museum's Exhibitions department. With original mallets (M550g-1998 and M550h-1998) and sheet music (M550i-1998),

Two examples of this instrument survive in large houses owned by the National Trust - a six note floor standing example (NT ref 84010-3) with its bamboo stand in Ormesby Hall, Yorkshire, and a four-note table top model (NT ref 970202) with bamboo stand at Nymans in West Sussex. They probably were used in lieu of a gong for summoning the household. Both play a chord of E-flat major (Ormesby Hall second inversion, Nymans first inversion), and could have been used to replicate bugle calls.

Collection Information

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