Concert Grand Autoharp
© Frank Ford, 2002; Photos by FF
It's the world's largest production Autoharp, and it was the showpiece of Zimmermann's early lineup. This thing carried a price of $250.00 at the time. Carried forward by inflation, that would work out to a bit less than five grand. And grand it is after all these years. This instrument has adorned the "museum wall" at Gryphon for many years after doing a stint at Lundberg's in Berkeley. For the last couple of decades we've been saying that it's the only one known to be extant, but then along came eBay. One sold there last year for what seemed (to me at least) a bargain at the time (around two grand).
This behemoth is capable of an ungodly number of chords with its six bars. Each bar can be moved laterally to three positions, and each bar has two shifters to generate seventh and minor chords. The shifter is so cool, I did a little animated GIF for it. The original advertisement had a man in full dress (it was the Victorian age, you know) standing over the Autoharp, which he played laid flat on an ornate stand at about waist height. Presumably this was a concert hall setting. The Zimmermann Company claimed to be setting up a special building and factory to produce the Concert Grand Autoharps, but there's no corroborating evidence. . .
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