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The Conservatoire’s Collection of Historic Musical Instruments, originating before World War II, was greatly enhanced by the acquisition of the collection of John Webb in 2012 and continues to attract important additions. Of a total collection of some 500 historic musical instruments, the 420 instruments in the John Webb Collection includes 290 brasswind which constitute a world-renowned collection.

The instruments date almost entirely from the long 19th century, a period of great change in wind instrument design, and thus the collection includes a large proportion of the historically important models of woodwind and especially brasswind. The combined collection includes a good representation of the instruments used in orchestras, bands, and domestic music-making in this period.

The Collection is particularly strong in British instruments, but with significant French, German and Italian examples. The collection of keyed brass is particularly fine, with many examples of keyed bugles and ophicleides. The Collection includes a number of items important in the history of brass instruments, notably including the silver slide trumpet belonging to Thomas Harper Jnr., the Besson valve trumpet of Sir Malcolm Arnold, and several instruments from John Wallace.

A catalogue of the RCS historic instrument collection can be found here.