Wooden tuning key for a stringed instrument

Made:
1758-1769 in Glasgow
maker:
James Watt

Buy this image as a print 

License this image for commercial use at Science and Society Picture Library

Buy this image as a print 

License this image for commercial use at Science and Society Picture Library

Buy this image as a print 

License this image for commercial use at Science and Society Picture Library

Tuning peg for stringed instrument. Front 3/4 view of whole object against graduated grey background.
Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Tuning peg for stringed instrument. Front 3/4 view of whole object against graduated grey background.
Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Tuning peg for stringed instrument. Overhead view of whole object against graduated grey background.
Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Wooden turning key for a stringed instrument, by James Watt, Glasgow, 1758-1769

This item is part of the contents of the workshop that Scottish engineer James Watt developed at his home, Heathfield, at Handsworth, Birmingham. Although Watt is best known for his work on the steam engine, his workshop contains a wide variety of objects from many different projects, from chemistry to sculpture-copying.

The description of the item was written by Edward Collins, the land agent responsible for Heathfield when the workshop was given to the Science Museum in 1924. Collins could not always identify what he was looking at, but always described what he saw clearly. This has allowed his descriptions to form the basis of subsequent research.

This peg would have been used to tune the strings on a small stringed instrument, such as a viola or violin - it is too small to be from a cello. Despite his known aversion to music - he once described it as 'the source of idleness' - Watt sold instruments while trading in Glasgow, and this peg may come from one of the instruments he sold, or have been a spare. It is a possibility that he (or one of his team of workmen) made it, but equally it may have been purchased from a specialist maker in the way that those engaged in making scientific instruments might specialise in particular components rather than complete finished items.

On display

Science Museum: Energy Hall: James Watt and our World

If you are visiting to see this object, please contact us in advance to make sure that it will be on display.

Related people

Details

Category:
James Watt's Garret Workshop
Object Number:
1924-792/1693
type:
pattern
credit:
Major J.M. Gibson-Watt

Cite this page

Rights

We encourage the use and reuse of our collection data.


Data in the title, made, maker and details fields are released under Creative Commons Zero


Descriptions and all other text content are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 licence

Using our data

Download

Download catalogue entry as json

View manifest in IIIF viewer

Add to Animal Crossing Art Generator

Download manifest IIIF

Our records are constantly being enhanced and improved, but please note that we cannot guarantee the accuracy of any information shown on this website.