Harp Making in Late-Georgian London

Chapter outline

1. Introduction

2. Consuming the harp

3. London harp makers

4. A decorative design history

5. A technical design history

6. The Erats: a manufacturing family

7. Jacob Erat's manufactories

8. Making the harp

9. Erat's Suppliers

10. Selling the harp

11. Willis, Erat and the harp

Harp Making in

Late-Georgian London


At the end of the eighteenth century, after the French Revolution, the centre of pedal-harp making moved from Paris to London.  There, building on the work of its Bavarian originators and Parisian developers, mainly immigrant makers elevated the instrument to new musical, technical, and decorative heights, and placed it in the hands and salons of the British upper classes and aristocracy.  Until recently, the story of harp making in England has been dominated by the Erard family who built about 7,000 of an estimated 20,000 harps made in London during the nineteenth century; some 20 other makers have been all but forgotten.  


This book, the story of harp making in late-Georgian England, assesses the role and consumption of the harp in society whilst describing its decorative and technical development.  Forgotten makers and their innovations are identified. Through the lens of newly discovered documents and the reinterpretation of others, Jacob Erat's manufactories are reconstructed.  His working methods, illustrative of those used in the wider industry, are rediscovered, and employees and suppliers are revealed anew.

ISBN: 9781527265110

428 pages

Price: £60


1. Eighteenth-century action types

2. Browne & Buckwell Valuation,

19 September 1895

3. Holderness balance sheet, 1898

4. Chronology of London Harp makers

5. Harp patent drawings

6. The Erat wills

7. Erat's end-of-year stock accounts

8. Erat's harp sales, 1821-1824

9. 1847 Stumpff action catalogue

10. Transcription of Robert Willis's diary

R.R.P: £60:00

... a wonderful and astonishing book...

Professor David Watkins. FGSM, Hon ARAM

... a magnum opus and incredible resource [...] all together mind-blowing...

John Hoare, Pilgrim harps

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© 2020 by Mike Baldwin