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Review: Checklist of Technical Drawings of Musical Instruments in Public Collections of the World

Review: Checklist of Technical Drawings of Musical Instruments in Public Collections of the World

Rob van Acht.

Celle, Germany: Moeck Verlag and Gravenhage

The Netherlands: Haags Gemeentemuseum

1992. 185 pp.; 7 color plates, paper covers.

Hfl. 49.00 (approximately $30.00)

Originally published in American Lutherie #43, 1995



This checklist of technical drawings is authored by R.J.M. (Rob) van Acht, Curator of Musical Instruments at the Haags Gemeentemuseum (Postbus 72, 2501 CB The Hague, The Netherlands). It is a listing of somewhat over 450 drawings of musical instruments which are available for purchase from selected museums or collections. The checklist is a production of the Documentation Centre [sic] for Musical Instruments at the Gemeentemuseum where a complete collection of the drawings listed is maintained. Mr. van Acht and his staff at the Gemeentemuseum deserve our thanks for assembling the collection and compiling this checklist as does Moeck Verlag for cosponsoring its publication.

The term technical drawing as used by this author and museums in general should perhaps be explained. These are full-size (1:1 scale) mechanical (outline) drawings that basically show what the instrument looks like from the outside. In the case of stringed instruments this external appearance is shown in several views with greater or lessor details of construction. They are usually prepared by the museum staff who have varying degrees of specific knowledge of the instrument’s construction. Although instrument makers will find most of the drawings to be of some value, the primary use as seen by the museums is organological. That is, the drawings are intended to be used by scholars (organologists) in their studying and writing about the classification, history, technology, and uses of musical instruments. And despite much discussion, complaints, and appeals, the museum community persists in their mistaken belief that some critical structural details and measurements are unessential information. These would include, for example, specific wood types, body cross sections, archings, and thickness measurements. So don’t be disappointed if a drawing you might send for has a serious lack of details, especially interior construction such as barring sizes and locations, and soundboard and back thickness measurements.

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