Monday, May 26, 2008

when autoharps were born...

early autoharp tintype

because the majority of early photos of people playing music are usually brass or military bands, it is more difficult to find images of folks playing instruments other than bugles, trumpets, trombones, etc. finding a nice painted drumhead or even more so a guitar is tough enough, not to mention an unexpected find like a harmonica or dulcimer. thus, i tend to get pretty darn excited when i find a photo that includes an instrument i don't have images of in the collection.

this tintype of a guy holding an autoharp is one of my favorites, not just because the image suggests the title of one of my favorite books by knut hamsun - a wanderer plays on muted strings - but because it was probably made within the first 10 years of the instrument's invention, and is probably one of the earlier photographs of the instrument.

i have a few rppc's with autoharps in the background or someone holding one you can see only with a magnifying glass because they are in a larger group of band members, but this is the only one where the instrument is the focus of a single being. according to the web, the instrument was designed/patented in the 1880's. this tintype is most likely from the late 1880's or early 1890's; and remarkably, still retains its original thin decorated paper frame.

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Blogger Matterhorn1959 said...

Steve- fantastic image. I agree, most of the photographs of early bands are brass bands.

5:42 AM  

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