V
intage Harp Guitar Photographs, 
Postcards, Cabinet Cards, Advertising & Ephemera

Identified European Instruments


Soffren Degen, c.1847, with his patented 7-string (1 floating bass) "heptacord," built by Carl Knudsen.
Courtesy of Erling Moldrup, from Guitaren: Et eksotisk instrument i den danske musik.    

Croatian guitarist Ivan Padovec, c.1841 with 10-course harp guitar built by Schenck, a disciple of J. G. Stauffer. Engraving of Padovec with Schenck instrument.

Nicholas Makaroff, the infamous Russian player who did so much to promote the harp guitar (simply "8- or 10-string guitar," as it was then known) through his composers and instrument contests (where Scherzer took first place).  This is likely a Scherzer instrument as well.  Date of photograph unknown.

Vassilij Petrowitsch Lebedeff with a 10-course J. G. Scherzer, circa 1890s. Gary Southwell received this image from the player's grandson.  It shows Sergei Alexandrovich Belanovsky holding an original wappen-shaped Scherzer in 1905.

courtesy Gary Southwell

According to luthier Richard Bruné, Lebedeff appears in this circa 1900 photo of the Moscow branch of the International Association of Guitarists - wit h the very 1861 Scherzer instrument that passed through Bruné's shop!  To my inexperienced eye, it looks like nearly the whole group is playing Scherzers, or copies!

The same image (poor, but un-cropped) from the Phillip Bone book shows the strange small (terz?) guitar, and Coste's custom extra large guitar that was tuned a fifth lower.

French virtuoso Napoleon Coste with one of his Lacote "floating 7th string" harp guitars. The strange instrument next to it is an arch-cittern - similar or identical to the 1787 Renault & Chatekain specimen in the Arch-citterns Gallery.

An earlier photo of Coste, with Lacote guitar. Willi Meier-Pauselius (with his father George), with a Lacote. 
See also 2 Meier photos with his custom HG on Unidentified European Instruments.
Both courtesy of Erling Moldrup, from Guitaren: Et eksotisk instrument i den danske musik.   

Heinrich Albert and the Munich Guitar Quartet, 1912.
L-r: Schenck one-arm, c.1848, Schenck continuous arm, 1839, Halbmeyer quint bass, c.1910, Scherzer wappenform. See Player of the Month and the entry at right concerning the German term of "bogenguitarre" for this Schenck form of harp guitar.

Academy Guitar Quartet of Vienna with Hauser quint-bass.

The French caption for this 1970s clipping translates: "You will not often see this kind of guitar: The bow guitarre (Bogenguitarre) which Erich Ferstl from Munich (Germany) plays, may be the only of its kind in playing condition. This guitar was made in 1930 from a hundred year old drawing. The sound of this instrument, which has 3 holes is close to the harp."
This is obviously a copy of a Schenck of 1840-1850, so the 1930 date is about right. Could it have been copied by Mozzani - who made his own modified designs of these Schenck instruments?
Addendum: researcher Andreas Stevens tells me the likely builder is Max Klein in Koblenz.


In Austria, "contra" or "bass" guitars eventually became known as "Schrammel" guitars - named after a general style of popular yet refined music developed by the Schrammel brothers. The original group included an 1879 Joseph Swosil guitar, which epitomized the instrument.

Above: The original Schrammel quartet: Johann (1850 - 1893) and Josef (1852 - 1895) on violins,
Anton Strohmayer (1848 -1937) on harp guitar, and folk-clarinettist Georg Dänzer (1848 - 1890)

Johann Schrammel Josef Schrammel
The harp guitarist, Anton Strohmayer The group in 1884
And in 1890

These outrageous Italian harp guitars were built by Settimio Gazzo around 1910 for the virtuoso Pasquale Taraffo and his brother Pietro. Mandolinist Carlo Aonzo informs us that the seated mandolinist is the great Nino Catania, the male singer is the famous Mario Capello, and the female singer is Zara Prima.

I particularly like the standing-position support furniture piece.

From the recent CD cover

Nino Catania (shown in above row at left) - Taraffo's frequent partner, here with his own harp instrument - a hollow arm "pseudo" harp mandolin. 

Sergio Reguzzoni was a professional harp-guitarist who was born in Genova but lived and died in New York. He performed in the same timeframe (and beyond) as Pasquale Taraffo (above), and played two similar instruments, likely also by Settimio Gazzo.
(Thanks to Luigi Verrini, Reguzzoni's descendant for photo (L) and information)

An additional photo (R) and information came from Luigi's cousin Enrico Reguzzoni. He tells us: "My uncle was a contemporary of Taraffo having been born in 1885 and died in 1974. He was also a teacher and taught at least two others that I know of to play the guitar. "Zio Sergio" learned to play the guitar in Genova in the "scuola chitarristica genovese." My uncle also had a 15 minute radio program in New York City in the '30s on WOR. Unfortunately, this didn't last long due to a disagreement with the station manager (according to my uncle). He also gave private recitals and concerts in studios and private homes.

A label found inside a standard guitar by this maker hints at a wonderful harp guitar to search for! DiMauro catalog page, vintage unknown (1930-1940s)
The shop of Antonio IV Monzino (1847-1930 & Sons, Milan, 1914. Several harp guitars can barely be seen behind and to the right of the lyre-shaped guitar. And check out the guitar/violoncello hybrids!

See Monzino for more spectacular instruments!

The Hawaiian Quintette from a 1917 Chautauqua brochure have an unusual harp guitar that seems to match one built by Italian Emanuele Egildo in our Form 1c Gallery.
(image courtesy of the Special Collections Department, University of Iowa Libraries)
The Mowana Hawaiian Quartette, also from the Chautauqua concert circuit, appear to have the exact same harp guitar, though the players look different.
(image courtesy of the Special Collections Department, University of Iowa Libraries)

According to Torres author José L Romanillos, Antonio de Torres (1817-92) made three eleven stringed guitars. These were said to be his interpretation of the Germanic bass-guitar (Kontra guitare). Although Torres had seven strings on the fingerboard and the other four lay off the fingerboard. The first one, Torres's 'SE 07' was made in 1876 and was owned by José Martinez Toboso (pictured). The 'SE' stands for the 'Second Epoch' of Torres's life of guitar making. In this era he numbered his instruments. The 'SE 07' guitar was inherited by Maria Terol, who unfortunately had it converted from eleven strings to six strings by Marcelo Barbero in 1945. The guitar has cypress wood back and sides, which is normally associated with flamenco guitars. The best reason for using cypress is that it is not as heavy as rosewood and that it was a local wood and so cheaper than rosewood, which had to be imported. This guitar has a three-piece spruce soundboard. -Stephen Sedwick.

According to scholar Stephen Sedgwick, Ramirez built at least one 9-string and one 11-string harp guitar, adding that Segovia's famous Ramirez was originally an 11-string. In this photo, "The instrument far right is an 11-string. The 10-string came about with Yepes and so there weren't any before that, that have come to light in Spain. There only seems to be 11-strings in Spain. It is hard to make out any detail but look at the bridge. It extends on the bass side and ends close to the edge of the body. as on my copy and the Torres instruments. The neck width is much wider than the other guitar in the picture. You can just make out the nut as a line that extends towards the bass side and off the fingerboard. To find the nut look in line with the nut on the other guitar in the window."

Carlos Garcia Tolsa (1858-1905) of Spain, holding what may be an 11-string by "hiros de Gonzalez" according to guitar scholars Françoise & Daniel Sinier de Ridder This remarkable instrument was built by the player, Spaniard Luis Soria in the late 1890s
(See Soria in Historical Makers)

(image copyright and courtesy Ignacio Ramos Altamira, 2006

Swede Oscar Ahnfelt with his 10-string Otto Selling harp guitar.
See Encyclopedia of Harp Guitar Players of the Past and
bottom of Form 2c Gallery.

This rare cabinet card photographed in Michigan shows a Swedish harp guitar that is very likely another rare Selling specimen (see bottom of Form 2c Gallery).

A Russian ensemble from a 1900s Zimmerman catalog.


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