Serpent in C by William Lander, Mere, Wiltshire, England, ca. 1825 (NMM 7129). Serpents were used in France as early as the late sixteenth century to support Gregorian plainsong and were still in use in provincial French churches in the twentieth century. They were traditionally made from two pieces of wood glued together and bound with leather. This instrument's construction, assembled from two separate sheets of copper, is reminiscent of the earlier style of manufacturing (the flaring bell is very unusual). Serpents made of metal rather than wood were a late phenomenon, intended for greater stability and sometimes for military use. This may be the only surviving musical instrument made by Lander (1763-1843), who was a brazier and inventor.


  • Title: Copper Serpent
  • Creator: William Lander (1763-1843)
  • Date Created: 1825 c.
  • Location Created: Mere, Wiltshire, England
  • Type: brass musical instrument
  • Rights: © National Music Museum
  • Photo Credit: Mark Olencki
  • Credit: Joe R. and Joella F. Utley Colllection, 1999

Get the app

Explore museums and play with Art Transfer, Pocket Galleries, Art Selfie, and more

Flash this QR Code to get the app
Google apps