Colonial Williamsburg Harpsichord Maker

Edward Wright, Harpsichord Maker, Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia

Edward Wright, Harpsichord Maker, Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia

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 Harpsichord Maker, Colonial Williamsburg

One of the craftsmen in Hay’s Cabinetmaking Shop at Colonial Williamsburg is Edward Wright, who is their resident harpsichord maker.  Ed has been creating these wonderful musical pieces at Colonial Williamsburg for a long time.  In fact, on July 11, 2013, a couple of months after these images were made, Colonial Williamsburg celebrated his 30 years of service.

As with most of the buildings you can visit at Colonial Williamsburg, Hay’s Cabinetmaking Shop is very much true to the original.  Anthony Hay bought the lot on which the current shop stands in 1756.  He gave up the business in 1766 when he purchased the nearby Raleigh Tavern, after which he leased the building to his former workers.  One of the renters of the shop was a cabinetmaker named Benjamin Bucktrout.

Like many American cabinetmakers of this time, Benjamin Bucktrout made and repaired furniture, resilvered mirrors and supplied funeral services that included coffins and hearse rentals.  As we know from an advertisement in the 18th century Virginia Gazette placed by Benjamin Bucktrout to announce his continuation of the cabinetmaking services previously provided by Anthony Hay, he could also make and repair spinets and harpsichords.  This advertisement remains the only documented offer of its kind in Tidewater Virginia before the American Revolution.

Edward Wright, Harpsichord Maker, Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia

Edward Wright, Harpsichord Maker, Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia

–  Click on the image to enlarge or purchase  –

Edward Wright, seen here, has been recreating the work of Benjamin Bucktrout using the tools and techniques as they would have been employed in the 18th century.  Where Edward differs from the original, I am very glad to say, is that he uses all of the modern methods of communication to explain what he is doing.  Not only does he answer questions and provide talks about his work to the visitors of Colonial Williamsburg, he also has a blog in which he details the his work and the issues he has to overcome to construct one of these beautiful musical instruments.

The spinet harpsichord Edward is making in these images is still a work in progress. Fortunately, in the entrance to Hay’s Cabinetmaking Shop is a fine example of a completed instrument which shows the craftsman that Edward is.

Harpsichord Keyboard inside Hay's Cabinetmaking Shop, Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia

Harpsichord Keyboard, Hay’s Cabinetmaking Shop, Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia

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Click here to learn more about visiting Colonial Williamsburg

Summary
Colonial Williamsburg Harpsichord Maker
Article Name
Colonial Williamsburg Harpsichord Maker
Description
One of the craftsmen in Hay’s Cabinetmaking Shop at Colonial Williamsburg is Edward Wright, who is their resident harpsichord maker.
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Publisher Name
Mark Summerfield
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3 Comments

  1. Great post about one of my favorite places. When I lived outside of Philly, we would visit Williamsburg a lot just for the things you posted about. Now living in New England, it is a place we can’t get to very easily (10 hours of driving). That being said, I definitely need to get back there. Thanks for posting.
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  2. Nice article and photos! I’m puzzled though. In the 18th century, from what I’ve read, men were clean shaven – it was the norm, exceptions being made for priests, Jewish men, and certain soldiers. I did 18th century period reenacting in Massachusetts for several years, and was told the same thing, no facial hair. !8th century portraits bear this out too. Well I’ve been to Colonial Williamsburg several times, and bearded staff members in costume are all over the place! They don’t portray “mountain men” who just came into town after a year of living in the woods, they portray tradesmen, craftsmen, etc. What gives? If beards and mustaches weren’t the norm for the time period, why does Colonial Williamsburg allow it?

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