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W. F. Dwight Harp Mfg. Company, Milwaukee, WI

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  • #76160
    Anirishman
    Member

    I recently aquired an old double action pedal harp with “W.F. Dwight Mfg., Milwaukee, WI” on the brass plate. It has 43 strings, 64″ tall, straight soundboard, very decorative gold carved column and base. I am unable to find any information on the web. Has anyone ever heard of a W.F. Dwight Company? It is difficult to read if the W.F. is correct, could be two other letters. It is a nice little harp and sounds rather nice, although I have not tuned it up to full pitch due to concern about the soundboard. Have never seen another like it.

    #76161
    paul-knoke
    Participant

    A Dwight harp turned up on eBay a few years ago; I wonder if this is the same one? It appeared to be from sometime between about 1875 and 1910. There were a number of small and poorly documented harp makers in the U.S. in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Some were very good; others had some experimental designs that may not have been so successful. The Dwight on eBay looked like it had a good layout; probably based on French harps of the same or a slightly earlier period. I would strongly recommend using nothing heavier than ‘lever harp gauge’ strings on it, with fibre-cored bass strings, and not tuning it above a=435, since those are likely the parameters for which it was designed.

    #76162
    Anirishman
    Member

    Thank you for the information Paul, very interesting. The harp had been in the same family for many years, it was Grandma’s harp I was told, so it was not the harp on ebay. I will try and post some photos. It is traditional in appearance with the gilded carved column and base giving it the “unique appearance” from what we often see in other vintage harps. Also, as you mentioned, it does seem to have a French influence to the design of the carvings. I appreciate the suggestion of the type of strings to use too.

    #76163
    Tacye
    Participant

    Are you sure the column is carved? If it is part of the grand tradition of copying Erard’s designs (43 strings is probably the Grecian model) most of the decor will be from gesso.

    #76164
    Anirishman
    Member

    I thought the same thing about the gesso, but in the couple of places where the gold has been nicked away, the grain of the wood can clearly be seen on the carving. The top of the column, below the simple crown, has a wonderful swooping vine of cascading roses that goes from side to side, and on one of the roses you can see the grain of the wood, if it were gesso I believe it would appear white. As far as it striving to be an Erard Grecian, I feel in “concept” it could be looked at that way, but the carvings are completely different, except maybe for a similar “fern” type pattern climbing up from the base. Once I figure out how to get the photos attached you will have a better idea of what I am attempting to describe. 🙂 Thank you for your response, much appreciated.

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