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Bentside spinet

Bentside spinet

  • Place of origin:

    London (made)

  • Date:

    1758 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Crang, John (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Burr walnut- and unfigured walnut-veneered pine case, planed spruce soundboard with gilt mouldings and painted arabesques along the edges, and carved beech bridge

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed to the Museum by Miss C.A.R.Adams

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    On display at the Horniman Museum, London []

John Crang (active 1742-1792) was based in London and regarded as one of the finest builders of spinets and organs in his day. Spinets are smaller, wing-shaped versions of harpsichords, and were first made by Girolamo Zenti (d. 1668) in Italy in the 1630s. Unlike the virginal, the spinet has its jack-rail running parallel to and its strings at a diagonal to the keyboard, making it easier to play the all the notes with the same pressure. Despite Crang's reputation, a note was found inside this instrument, written by a certain Mrs Weston, who complained that her spinet was 'so bad that [she] cant [sic] play upon it'.

Physical description

Bentside spinet, with a range of 61 notes, GG-g3. The pine case is veneered with burr walnut panels, crossbanded with unfigured walnut, and decorated with ebony and boxwood stringing. The nameboard is decorated with a trophy of musical instruments in marquetry. The spruce soundboard is surrounded by gilt mouldings and painted arabesques. The sharps are ebony and the naturals are ivory-covered, with arcading at the front.

Place of Origin

London (made)


1758 (made)


Crang, John (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Burr walnut- and unfigured walnut-veneered pine case, planed spruce soundboard with gilt mouldings and painted arabesques along the edges, and carved beech bridge

Marks and inscriptions

Musica Laborum Dulve Levamen
Music is the sweet relief to labours.
Inscribed in ink on the name board.

Inscribed in ink beneath the trophy of musical instruments on the nameboard

Mrs Weston desires [Mr] / Crang will call to [morrow] / by Eleven o clock [without] fail / the Spinet [is] / so bad she cant [play] / upon it / Tuesd [ay]
Written in ink on a piece of playing card folded and glued to the balance rail, beneath the keys. (Howard Schott in Catalogue of Musical instruments ... (p. 82) thinks Mrs Weston may be refering to another instrument)

CRang Londini fecit
Crang made this in London
Inscribed in ink beneath the trophy on the nameboard.


Length: 183 cm, Height: 20.5 cm, Weight: 35 kg

Object history note

Bequeathed to the Museum by Miss C.A.R. Adams.

Descriptive line

Bentside spinet, English, case veneered with burr walnut and unfigured walnut, by John Crang, 1758.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Raymond Russell: Victoria and Albert Museum Catalogue of Musical Instruments. Volume I. Keyboard Instruments. (London, 1968), pp. 52-53
Howard Schott: Catalogue of Musical Instruments in the Victoria and Albert Museum - Part I: Keyboard instruments. (London, 1998), pp. 81-82.

Labels and date

By John Crang, London, 1758
Inscribed Crang Londini Fecit and above Musica Laborum Dulce Levamen [Music, sweet relief to cares]
The sharps are ebony and the naturals ivory.
The instrument's range is GG - g3.

Keyboard Catalogue No.: 27

John Arnold in his Compleat Psalmody (London, 1761) ranked Crang among the best spinet builders. However, the owner of this example, a Mrs Weston complained that it "was so bad she cant a[play] it!" Crang built the chamber organ of Fonthill Splendens and a claviorganum (Harpsichord-cum-organ) for Carshalton Park, Surrey.

Bequeathed by Miss C. A. R. Adams.

W.16-1947 [pre September 2000]


Walnut; Spruce; Beech; Ebony; Ivory; Pine


Veneering; Planing; Painting; Gilding

Subjects depicted



Musical instruments


Furniture and Woodwork Collection

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