Spinet by John Kemys c. 1770

Original English spinets (my favourite instruments) do not often appear for sale, and it is my privilege to present this 'long lost' instrument by John Kemys of Bristol.

The records in Boalch are rather confusing, with some mis-readings of the name, but there is no doubt that this is the one that appeared in Boalch I in 1955, with the owner listed as The Hon.  Mrs Ionides.  After a period in hiding, it is now offered for sale by a descendant of the family.

The name has been variously recorded as Kemp, Kemps, and Kemus, but there is no doubt that Kemys is correct.  Boalch-Mould Online will shortly be updated.

The case is beautifully veneered with decorative walnut panels and boxwood stringing;the treatment of the wrap-around tail panel is unusual.  The lid is solid mahogany.

The natural keys are ivory with shaped edges; the black arcades are very unusual.

The nut is curved away from the plucking points in a similar fashion to some Hitchcocks, suggesting a slightly darker, more fluty tone.  It has a new set of high-quality jacks, fitted about ten years ago. 

The rose is something of a mystery. It carries the initials B H, and Donald Boalch deduced that it was made by Baker Harris.  However, the evidence is that John Kemys was an actual maker, and this doesn't look quite like Baker Harris' work to me.  And none of his surviving spinets is listed as having a rose.  


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© David Hackett