John Preston Violoncello

John Preston Violoncello

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This violoncello was made by John Preston in London, about 1780. It is made of a two-piece table of spruce, two piece back of maple with even fine descending figure, ribs of similar maple, neck, pegbox and scroll of late replacement, and varnish of transparent brown color. There is a printed label inside the instrument:

Preston MAKER
No 97 Strand

John Preston began working in London around 1744 in Long Acre as a maker of violins and guitars. After 1776 he was established at the Strand, where he remained until his death in January of 1798. In 1789, his son Thomas entered the business and developed the firm as music publishers as well as violin makers and dealers. Preston and Son published music of many types including dance, operetta and popular song. In 1834 the firm passed to control of Coventry & Hollier and continue today under the name Novello & Company. It was probably the publishing interest that prevented John Preston from developing a strong reputation and output as a maker. His instruments might be considered today as good to fair in commercial quality. In this example with typically pointed arching and high ribs,1 the neck, pegbox and scroll are a later Bohemian or German replacement. The body bears an even single purfling.

Currently not on view
Object Name
date made
Preston, John
place made
United Kingdom: England, London
Physical Description
spruce (overall material)
maple (overall material)
overall: 48 in x 16 1/2 in x 9 3/4 in; 121.92 cm x 41.91 cm x 24.765 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
Gift of Albert F. and Lorette M. Moglie
See more items in
Culture and the Arts: Musical Instruments
Music & Musical Instruments
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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