COLLECTION: Musical Instruments

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Aeolian harp

1775-1790
Origin: England, London
L: 31 3/4"; W: 5 1/2"; D: 3 3/4"
Spruce, maple, beech, holly
Museum Purchase
Acc. No. 1954-385
Rectangular satinwood box with striped inlay (holly and ebony) on edges. Spruce soundboard with 2 decorative "rose" holes with interlacing fretwork pattern; 6 tuning pins alternating with 6 hitch pins of ivory at each end of sounding board holding 12 catgut strings.
Label:The Aeolian harp is the stringed instrument equivalent of a wind chime. It was placed in a window sill with the window open just enough to focus the breeze across the strings. When the strings vibrated sympathetically, a sound was produced. Thomas Jefferson specified an Aeolian harp in connection with a garden temple (Papers of Thomas Jefferson ...1767-1826, volume 1, Bear & Stanton, p.28 and 248). This example is clearly the work of a skilled musical instrument maker. Aeolian Harps were among the products listed in a c. 1775 catalog of musical merchandise sold by Longman, Lukey and Broderip of London.
Provenance:Ex coll: Bowes-Lyon family in England.
Mark(s):At end of soundboard: "I & G. Vogler Fecit Londini"
Inscription(s):see marks