COLLECTION: Musical Instruments

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Zither

1800-1900
Origin: America
OL: 41 1/8 in. (1045 mm); W (back at tailpiece): 3 5/16 in. (85 mm); W (back at tuning head): 2 3/4 in.; Depth: 2 5/16 in.
Cherry; white pine
Gift of Mr. & Mrs. Miodrag R. Blagojevich
Acc. No. 1977-344
Straight-sided box zither (scheitholt) tapering from the tailpiece to the tuning head; cherry top, sides and ends with unfinished white pine back, originally with three strings fretted on 15 frets and one drone string (strings now missing). Originally had 3 tuning pins, which at some time were replaced with screws. There are two S-holes in the central fingerboard and 15 frets made of wire staples. Tailpiece and tuning head are glued and pegged into body, and belly and fingerboard combination rests on top of the ribs. Ribs are mortised into tailpiece and tuning head and the molding and fingerboard lines are carried through to the tuning head and tailpiece. The back is inset into the ribs. No evidence of feet.

When given by the donors in 1977, the fingerboard had a longitudinal hole about 14 inches in length and of varying width. The hole was repaired in 1988 by Marcus Hanson in prepartion for exhibition. The screws were removed and replaced with appropriate tuning pins.
Label:This sheitholt is extraordinary among pre-revival folk instruments for the sophistication of its design and the quality of its workmanship. The delicate ogee molding that extends from one end scroll to the opposite is not found in any other sheitholt. The design is similarly unique in combining characteristics of the sheitholt and the dulcimer. Although the instrument has only a pair of melody strings and a single drone, the lightness of construction gives it a clear and bold tone. In an otherwise expertly made instrument, the top few frets are wildly out of tune. Although common in period sheitholts and dulcimers, the misplaced upper frets here suggest that this tuning may have been intentional.
Provenance:Originially owned by John Graham; traded to the Blagojevichs for a pair of andirons before 1963. See correspondence in Object Folder.