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Symphonium

Maker:
Charles Wheatstone (1802–1875)
Date:
ca. 1835
Geography:
London, England, United Kingdom
Culture:
British
Medium:
nickel silver, ivory, brass, mother-of-pearl
Dimensions:
Width across top 61 mm (2 3/8 in.); Height 70 mm (2 3/4 in.), Depth including ring 37 mm (1 7/16 in.)
Classification:
Aerophone-Free Reed-mouth organ
Credit Line:
The Crosby Brown Collection of Musical Instruments, 1889
Accession Number:
89.4.2085
Not on view
Invented in 1829 by the physicist Charles Wheatstone-the famous discoverer of the electric "Wheatstone bridge"-the symphonium features two characteristics that he later used in his concertina: the same notes at pressure and suction, and alternative distribution of the diatonic tones to the right and left hand (C is for the right hand, D for the left, E for the right hand, etc.). The chromatic tones are the buttons of the outer row. The two groups of twelve buttons on each side produce a chromatic range from c1 to d3 (lacking d#1). The form of the instrument recalls a sheng without pipes.
Marking: 1) By His Majesty's Letters Patent./C. Wheatstone,/Inventor,/20, Conduit St. Regent St./ London
2) (stamped behind front right leg) 172 B
Mary Elizabeth Adams Brown ; Fenton & Co.
Catalogue of the Crosby Brown Collection of Musical Instruments: Europe. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1904, vol. I, pg. 161.

Catalogue of the Crosby Brown Collection of Musical Instruments of All Nations: I. Europe, Galleries 25 and 26, Central Cases of Galleries 27 and 28. Catalogue., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, vol. 13, pg. 161-162.



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