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Kirkman, harpsichord manufacturers

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 1249 Kirkman
Held at: Royal College of Music
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Full title: Kirkman, harpsichord manufacturers
Date(s): 1770-1771
Level of description: Collection (fonds)
Extent: 3 items
Name of creator(s): Kirkman | Jacob | 1710-1792 | harpsichord manufacturer


Administrative/Biographical history:

The Kirkmans were an English family of harpsichord and piano makers of Alsatian origin. Jacob Kirkman (b Bischweiler, 4 Mar 1710; d Greenwich, buried 9 Jun 1792) came to England in the early 1730s, and worked for Herman Tabel, whose widow he married in 1738. He took British citizenship on 25 Apr 1755, and in 1772 went into partnership with his nephew, Abraham Kirkman (b Bischweiler, 1737; d Hammersmith, buried 16 Apr 1794). Abraham Kirkman in turn took into partnership his son, Joseph Kirkman (i) (dates of birth and death unknown), whose son, Joseph Kirkman (ii) (c1790-1877), worked with his father on their last harpsichord in 1809. The firm continued as piano makers until absorbed by Collard in 1896.
Christian Burkard, one of the signatories of both documents (1) and (2) was a harpsichord builder living in Swallow Street, London and a cousin of Jacob Kirkman.
The action documented in (3) in 1771 by Jacob Kirkman against Robert Falkener was for Falkener's alleged attempts to sell harpsichords made by another maker as Kirkman instruments. Kirkman claimed 500 damages, though the outcome of the suit is not known.


Scope and content/abstract:

(1) Lease and (2) Release, 19-20 Mar 1770, between Mary Lewis and Jacob Kirkman, concerning land in Walton-upon-Thames.
(3) Presentment, 1771, by Jacob Kirkman against Robert Falkener, for counterfeiting Kirkman's name on harpsichords sold by Falkener.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

Three items as given in scope and content.

Conditions governing access:

The documents are held by the Instrument Museum, Royal College of Music. Readers wishing to consult the original ledgers or the microfilm must arrange access via the Curator of the Museum.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Photocopying is permitted at the discretion of the Curator of the Museum for research purposes only.

Finding aids:

Catalogue entries and further information are available in the Instrument Museum, Royal College of Music.

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Originally given to the Library of the RCM in 1993 by Paul James, son of Philip James (one time Honorary Keeper of the RCM Museum of Instruments) and subsequently transferred to the Museum of Instruments.

Allied Materials

Related material:

RCM Library holds an abstract of a lease between a Mr Durnford and Joseph Kirkman, concerning premises at Brompton, c1806 (Ref: MS 7098).

A further instance of a similar case to (3) is documented in Scone Palace MS TB/80/52/477 p34 whereby one John Rose was indicted for selling a counterfeit Kirkman harpsichord to a John Bett.

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
Compiled by Robert Baxter as part of the RSLP AIM25 Project. Sources: Grove Dictionary of Music.

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
Nov 2001

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