The Thomas Baker Collection

"The music collection of Thomas Baker of Farnham, Surrey, is a remarkable phenomenon-for it appears to have been quite untouched from the time of Baker's death (c1773) to the present day. Its contents, representative of the educated musical amateur's tastes, include works ranging from short keyboard pieces to opera. The overall condition of the library can reasonably be described as outstanding: we have rarely, if ever, seen mid-eighteenth-century music in such a fine state of preservation. Of the twenty-nine items, twenty are in characteristic contemporary bindings (usually of half or quarter sheep with marbled boards) while the remaining nine are unbound as issued, in their original wrappers (now preserved in portfolios). Where necessary, the original bindings have been furbished and repaired."(1)

The Thomas Baker Collection was acquired by Western's Music Library in 1985, through the generous sponsorship of the late Gordon Jeffery. Jeffery had been apprised of the impending availability of the collection by the late Lady Susi Jeans. While it was hoped that the Collection could be acquired intact, it was contracted to be sold at auction (Christie's, 1984), and was subsequently acquired by the UK antiquarian dealers Richard MacNutt with Burnett & Simeone, and H. Baron. Upon acquiring a portion of the Collection, MacNutt issued his catalogue The Music Collection of an Eighteenth Century Gentleman (1985) jointly with Burnett & Simeone, to be sold intact as a single lot until 30 April 1985, after which time, the individually listed catalogue prices would apply.

A comparison of The Thomas Baker Collection at Western University against the 1985 "Catalogue of music in the Thomas Baker Collection, Hampshire Record Office, Winchester" compiled by Richard Andrewes (Cambridge Libraries) lists 85 eighteenth-century printed titles, of which 11 went to other buyers (notably the British Library, but also to private collectors); none of the nineteenth-century titles were acquired by Western's Music Library. Andrewes's catalogue also lists 10 'miscellaneous manuscripts' of which 6 appear in the Western Libraries catalogue: using the phrase (in double quotation marks, as per the example) "Thomas Baker Collection" in a Keyword search will retrieve those 83 titles held at the Music Library.

Composers represented in the Thomas Baker Collection include, but are not limited to:

Additionally, there are instrumental tutors by Geminiani, Pasquali and Keller.

Music Publishers represented in the Collection include (again, not limited to):

1. Richard MacNutt, preface to The Music Collection of an Eighteenth Century Gentleman (Tunbridge Wells, UK: the author, 1985), i.


Burrows, Donald. "Thomas Baker's Word-book for Samson." American Handel Society Newsletter 19 (2004): 6.

Martin, Cheryl. "The Music Collection of Thomas Baker of Farnham, Surrey." Royal Musical Association Research Chronicle 44 (2013): 19-54.