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This unusual guitar was designed by Emilius Nicolai Scherr a Danish immigrant and piano/organ maker, living in Philadelphia.  This is only one of nine known to still exist with at least three of the other examples residing in museums and some others documented in private collections.  While patented as a "harp guitar", it differs substantially to what is typically called a harp guitar.  While the more modern idea of a harp guitar is the typically early 20th century guitar style with an additional set of unfretted bass strings, this borrows from a harp in having an extended resonating chamber with a pedestal, somewhat like a harp.  This gave the guitar an overall much larger body than the typical small bodied guitars of the era.  This design is believed to be the first guitar design to be awarded a US patent.


The guitar, as is expected for a guitar of this era, is set up with nylon strings.  It plays well with an interesting, short scale of just 22 inches.  Despite this shorter scale there is surprisingly nice response with full bass.  A very similar Scherr guitar can be heard, played by Jiji Kim on the Musical Instrument Museum youtube channel at this link:


This is one of the more lavish examples of these guitar with extensive gold leaf and hand carved ornamentations.  The eagle head feature is seen in double on the example held at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.  The woods include a stained spruce top with markd bear claw figuring, Brazilian rosewood sides, and a beautifully arched fiddleback flamed maple back with additional gold leaf work.  The bridge is a beautifully carved piece of ebony which was reglued at some point.  The neck is made of Brazilian rosewood with a modern feeling C-shaped carve. The fingerboard shows ornate mother of pearl inlays which likely were done at a later point, possibly with a complete fretboard replacement.  The bottom of the pedestal on other examples of these show small feet.  This one shows where they would have been, but they are no longer present.  There are a few small repairs and chips, some of which are shown in photos, but none affect the stability or integrity of the guitar.  The top and back are remarkably free of cracks or repairs.  The original bone and ebony bridge pins are still present.


Nut width - 1.88 inches

Scale length - 22 inches

Overall length - 58 inches

Depth - 3.5 inches

Width - 13 inches


The guitar comes with a custom made hard case, likely from the early 20th century.


Ships free in the United States.  

SOLD -Scherr Harp Guitar 1830s - Example of First Guitar with an American Patent

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