Arthur Robb
0044 (0)7984-892570

1758 Hoffmann English guittar Restoration done in 2006

A lute-backed English guittar made by Hoffmann in London in 1758. The instrument needs a bridge, string pins, attention to the brass frets and strings. This is very likely the earliest watch key mechanism known on an English guittar.

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Part of an email from the owner, shown here with his permission.

However, I also have an old Cittern (sometime called an English guittar) made in 1758 by Hoffman of London. I got it when I was 16 (half a century ago) from my great aunt, a daughter of the Victorian sculptor, Sir Hamo Thornycroft. A note signed by him attached to headstock of the instrument tells that he bought it in Bond Street in 1868. It has his monogram carved in an ivory plate on the headstock.

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Sadly it reached me in matchwood state (well, broken into little bits anyway) and I, with the arrogance of youth tried to repair it. All the bits were there except for fragments of the rose. Based on those fragments I made a balsa copy and stuck it on. A number of the original frets were in place but where missing I replaced them with pieces cut from sheet brass. Some of the string pegs also had to be replaced. I used plastic bits from a toy. The bridge was missing and I carved (whittled might be a better word) one for it. It was a thoroughly disreputable repair job but at least it kept everything together until now.

From the lable, I read:

..ght this lute in Wardour
...bout 1868
Hamo Thornycroft

Work began with the turning of the tiny pins for the strings. These are made from cow bone. The originals would have been ivory.

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The restored English guittar - June 2006

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