Spaniards Aping the Brits

London in the 18th century became the place to make money, but also to pick up new skills to take home and make money from. I recently discovered that while Harrison was working on his famous Longtitude clock, he welcomed people to come and view it, despite the fact that he was chasing the huge prize. It seems saving lives trumped making money, or perhaps that scientists were a community that transcended national boundaries. This is from an ad from 1795 in John Joseph Merlin The Ingenious Mechanick:

“Don Francisco Florez, piano-builder to His Majesty’s Chamber announces that, wishing to perfect himself and made advances in this art, he went to London with a pension from His Majesty and that not merely has he succeeded in building instruments as perfect as those that are made there, but the touch is better than any known hitherto. As proof of his advance, he has just had the honour of presenting to Their Majesties an instrument in which he has employed all the knowledge he has gained from observation. This fortepiano, which has received royal approval, has the following registers: ‘harpa’ and ‘lleno’ (harp and full), two organ registers and one of gut. The latter is special in that it sustains the sound as though it were a wind stop., It imitates a violin in the treble, a viola in the middle range and a cello in the bass. The instrument also has two kettledrums of skin. Whoever likes this type of instrument and wishes to have one built will be satisfied Florez also adds organ registers to fortepianos and has invented a method of supplying with more easily than hitherto. He also builds quill and piano ‘claves’ and with other registers, as Merlin does in London, of whatever compass is requested. He makes glass harmonicas [invented by Franklin] with sustain the sound and are played from a keyboard He builds barrel organs with clockwork or other types of movement. Finally, he makes pianos for 25 dubloons which cannot be had from London for less than 40…’

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