Old L&H harp sighting

  • Participant
    charles-nix on #229122

    Was at a harp camp last week and a young harpist brought in L&H serial number 128 that she was renting, built in 1894. It looked to be all original. 44 strings 7thE to 0F. The action plate was engraved with the name of the original owner.

    As one might expect, the soundboard was really pulled up, but the sound from the little harp was amazing.

    Are these before the Style numbers? I guess that string range and size would be close to a Style 14.

    Would the original stringing gauge have been closer to the Lever Gut range, with fiber-core basses?

    Participant
    goatberryfarm2010 on #229138

    Wow! I’ll bet she sounds lovely! I wonder how many early harps are still around!

    Participant
    balfour-knight on #229145

    Thanks for posting this, Charles! I love to see old harps, too. Wow, 1894 is a real historic one. I have a reprint of an early 1900’s Lyon & Healy catalog, and there are Style numbers in this edition. Since I am not at home right now, I can’t look up the exact year of the catalog, but all of this is very interesting.
    Harp Hugs to you all!
    Balfour

    Participant
    paul-knoke on #229150

    Yes, the ear;y Lyon & Healys were designed to take the Erard 1829 gauge strings, which were very similar to Lever Gauge diameters. The bass wires should be fiber-core for the higher 5 or 6, and wire core for the lower ones. The change-over points from gut to fiber-core to wire-core varied over time. It’s usually possible to figure them out by looking for clues in the soundboard center strip, and at the discs. Different types of discs were often used for the different types of strings.

    Participant
    balfour-knight on #229151

    Hello again, everyone! I checked on the old catalog, and it was a “facsimile of our 1899 Harp Book, reprinted in 1979 in celebration of our 90th Anniversary.” Briefly, the harps available then from Lyon & Healy were the single action No. 11 with 43 strings, double action harps No. 20, 21 and 23, 45 strings, No. 22, 45 strings with the new patent enlarged sounding-board (extended soundboard) and last, the largest harp they sold then, the No. 25 with 47 strings and the Gothic hexagonal column. Note that this last harp only stood 71″ tall and weighed 69 pounds.

    Participant
    carl-swanson on #229152

    I wonder what model my Lyon & Healy number 300 is? It has a small bust of Wagner on the column. I don’t think I have ever seen model numbers for those early harps, and assumed that the model numbers started in 1910, when they went to a 4 digit serial number.

    I seem to remember that when Lyon & Healy started selling harps to the public in 1889, they started with serial number 500. Between 1889 and 1910, there were 3 fires that wiped out their records. When they started building again after the first fire, they started with number 100. So the lower number harps are actually later than ones above 500. My best guess is that mine dates from maybe 1898 to 1900.

    Participant
    charles-nix on #229156

    The 1894 date was engraved on the action place right next to the original purchaser’s name and city. So, there’s at least one data point that #128 was in 1894.

    I didn’t get a look at how much the neck was pulled sideways, but there was a small crack on top of the kneeblock, and the board was pulled up a long ways. I’m positive it had modern bass wires, and without gauging it, it looked like standard modern gauge guts. Visually, I didn’t see any reason to suspect that all parts weren’t entirely original.

    Unfortunately, the 9-year old student isn’t tuning yet. And her father was very resistant to any help offered by anyone at the camp. Apparently no one else in the family is a musician. They are renting to purchase. I’d love to have suggested to lower the tension with original gauges, so that maybe it won’t blow up quite as soon. When I even mentioned to him that her teacher might want to work with tuning some, he informed me that “that harp has been really stable and hasn’t needed much tuning”. Indeed, I hadn’t seen her tune once in the four days of camp, including after the harp was hauled 600 miles, and I was there before and left after her each day. When this conversation happened, we had all just listened to a performance where several in the 4th and 5th octaves weren’t even tuned on the right notes. We won’t discuss from second octave up.

    It was really sad, because she has a LOT of talent. She performed the Susann McDonald/Linda Wood Concert Etude, Reverie, and Chorale (from Graded Recital 1) from memory, and apparently had only been working on them for two or three weeks.

    Directly contact her teacher? Contact the harp’s owner that they rent from? All of that seems awfully like sticking my nose in. But it is such a shame to see that the instrument may not survive, and they won’t have the money to repair.

    Participant
    Gretchen Cover on #229166

    Perhaps you could tell the parents the child is very talented and that you would like permission to let her teacher know what was accomplished at camp. If that works, you could let the teacher know your thoughts about the harp.

    Participant
    charles-nix on #229175

    Thanks for that intriguing suggestion. It has possibilities.

    Participant
    Saul Davis Zlatkovski on #229188

    Those harps were made with marvelous wood and skill, and have aged very well. Harp #299 has the bust of Wagner and is a Style 22. It belonged to France Miller.

    Participant
    tdub on #230087

    I have been looking at a Lyon and Healy style 23 1915 harp. I don’t know the value of such an old instrument. It needs to be regulated but is in excellent shape besides that. Does anyone know an approximate value or have any opinion on buying such an old instrument? 19150.jpg19148.jpg

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    tdub on #230089

    Here’s some pictures of this Lyon and Healy style 23 1915

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    emma-graham on #230094

    That looks more like a style 17 rather than a 23 to me. Try contacting Meko at the International harp museum. I think he would know exactly what it is and what it would be worth.

    http://www.internationalharpmuseum.org/index.html

    Participant
    tdub on #230095

    Do you know Meko’s email address so I can send it?

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    tdub on #230098

    More pics. So sad it isn’t a 23.

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