1st Edition

European, British, and American Musical Instrument Collectors, 1850–1940

Edited By Christina Linsenmeyer Copyright 2025
    360 Pages 50 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    The contributors to this volume examine musical instrument collectors and their reasons and means for collecting: Who were they professionally and personally? Why did they collect musical instruments? How did they acquire their objects? What were their collecting criteria and aesthetics?

    Following a critical introduction, two chapters on historically overlooked yet essential themes – provenance, and collecting in the context of colonialism – lay the foundation for nineteen chapters, each on an individual collector, telling personal and individual stories of collecting and collections. These narratives illuminate a rich contextual history, including the factors that shaped each collector’s acquisition and use of objects. Because many private collections later became the mainstay of institutional ones, this volume holds that it is essential to understand these collectors and historical collecting practices, in order to understand our museum collections today.

    The book will be of interest to scholars working in material culture, collecting and museum studies, music history, and organology.



    1. Collecting African Musical Instruments during the Colonization Era. The case of the Congo

    Maarten Couttenier et al.


    2. Provenance and Instruments of the Violin Family

    Carla Shapreau


    3. From ‘Scoundrel’ to Professor: The legacy of John Donaldson (c. 1788–1865) and the founding of the University of Edinburgh’s musical instrument collection

    Sarah Deters


    4. Carl Engel (1818–1882): ‘The highest authority in Europe upon the development of musical instruments’

    Gabriele Rossi Rognoni


    5. ‘The rare museum of an artist and inventor’: Adolphe Sax’s (1814–1894) collection of musical instruments

    Ignace De Keyser and Malou Haine


    6. Alfred Hill (1862–1940) and Arthur Hill (1860–1939): Private collectors, public benefactors

    Tom Wilder


    7. César Charles Snoeck (1834–1898): Making the intangible, tangible

    Ignace De Keyser


    8. Daniel Sargent Pillsbury (1836–1902): First collector of American band instruments

    Robert E. Eliason and Jeanine Head Miller


    9. Collecting Musical Instruments – A Merchant’s Passion. The Rück family collection (c. 1880–1962)

    Dominik von Roth, Linda Escherich, and Markus Zepf


    10. Mary Elizabeth Adams Brown (1842–1918): A Herculean piece of work

    Sally B. Brown and Jayson Kerr Dobney


    11. Auguste Tolbecque's (1830–1919) Collection: A new aesthetic order and the experimental archeology of musical instruments

    Jean-Michel Renard


    12. Celebrating the Art of Musical-Instrument Making. The private collection of Victor-Charles Mahillon (1841–1924)

    Ignace De Keyser and Saskia Willaert


    13. Carl Claudius (1855–1931) and His Sound-chests

    Madeleine Modin


    14. ‘No Mere Assemblage of Musical Instruments’: The foundations of Arnold Dolmetsch’s (1858–1940) collection

    Edmond Johnson


    15. Dayton C. Miller (1866–1941), an American Collector of Flutes

    Carol Lynn Ward-Bamford


    16. George Henry Benton Fletcher (1866–1944), The Improbable Collector

    Mimi S. Waitzman


    17. Francis W. Galpin (1858–1945): The Canon and collector

    Darcy Kuronen


    18. Henry Ford (1863–1947): Gathering America’s musical past

    Jeanine Head Miller and Robert E. Eliason


    19. Fritz Wildhagen (1878–1956) – Painter, Collector, Aesthete

    Annette Otterstedt and Klaus Martius


    20. Evan Gorga (1865–1957): An extraordinary collector, his incredible collections, and their disastrous odyssey

    Alessandra Palidda


    21. Curt Sachs (1881–1959) as Head of the Collection of Musical Instruments in Berlin: Views and perspectives

    Heike Fricke




    Christina Linsenmeyer is Associate Curator, Collection of Musical Instruments at Yale University.