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English guitar

English guitar

  • Place of origin:

    Lisbon (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1780 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    da Silva, Jaco Vieira (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Pine back, sides and soundboards, with pine and wood purfling (bordering); brass openwork rose, framed with mother-of-pearl

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

The English guitar was a fashionable instrument from about 1750, considered easy to play and tuned in C major, although the player would use a capo, much like a modern folk-guitarist, in order to change the key. The tuning pegs were often small metallic pins that could be turned with a watch-key, to keep the strings in tune longer. This instrument was made in Portugal, a country with strong trading links with England, and its peg box is decorated with a paper 'cameo' in imitation of a jasper ware medallion, a motif made popular by Josiah Wedgwood (1730-1795) from about 1770.

Place of Origin

Lisbon (made)


ca. 1780 (made)


da Silva, Jaco Vieira (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Pine back, sides and soundboards, with pine and wood purfling (bordering); brass openwork rose, framed with mother-of-pearl

Marks and inscriptions

Jaco Vieira da Silva a fez em Lisboa no Prata da Alegria anno de 17 [no manuscript figures inserted]
Jaco Vieira da Silva has made this in Lisbon at the Prato da Alegria in the year 17[no other numbers]
1) Makers's mark 2) Signature; Portuguese; printed; printed


Length: 78 cm total, Length: 34 cm body, Width: 31.5 cm, Depth: 7.5 cm

Object history note

This formed part of the collection of Carl Engel (1919 - 1882), a leading musicologist who published the Descriptive Catalogue of the Musical Instruments in the South Kensington Museum (London, 1874). Engel's collection was bought by the museum in 1882, nos. 150 to 350, for £555. 6s. 0d.
RP 2315/1882
Bought for £3. 10s. 0d.

Descriptive line

Portuguese, Joao Vieira da Silva, 1780-85

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

London, Victoria & Albert Museum: Catalogue of Musical Instruments in the Victoria & Albert Museum. Part II, Anthony Baines: Non-keyboard instruments (London, 1998), pp. 52 - 53.


Pine; Tortoise shell; Brass; Mother of pearl


Purfling; Framing; Planing; Openwork


Musical instruments

Production Type

Limited edition


Furniture and Woodwork Collection

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