Showing results

Hide images

Portable Irish harp

Although no inscription or label has been found, this harp was most certainly made by John Egan, the Dublin’s leading harp maker and inventor in the early 19th century, who was patronized by the nobility and gentry. The construction and design of this instrument are very similar to other early portable harps by this maker, pre-dating his later and sturdier "Royal Portable" models. It is a small harp model, having a thin bowed column with extended neck, and a soundbox with a curved laminated back. The back of the soundbox has six thin elongated soundholes in pairs of two. The mechanism is of brass ring stops of two types: rectangular levers and round levers with two circles or "mouse ears." Both types have cut-out holes through which the strings were threaded. As the lever was turned, the string became fretted, raising the pitch a semi-tone. The 32 strings (now missing or broken) would have been made of gut, with perhaps three wire strings in the bass. Most of the bridge pins and tuning pins on the neck are intact, with only two of each missing. At least one ring stop has broken off, and several string pegs are missing from the soundboard. There is a large brass knob on the top left side of the harp to which would have been attached a carrying strap. These harps were tuned in E-flat major and were used for the art music of the day, especially to accompany singing.

  • Culture:
  • Period:
  • Materials:
  • Specific materials/techniques:
  • Decorative elements:
  • Inscriptions:
  • Hornbostel-Sachs category:322.221 Frame harps with manual action
  • Repository:Stroud District (Cowle) Museum
  • Measurements:Height: 845mm; Width: 200mm; Depth: 455mm