Accession No

5975


Brief Description

Wheatstone symphonium, by Charles Wheatstone, English, 1830 (c)


Origin

England; London; Regent Street; 20 Conduit Street


Maker

Wheatstone, Charles


Class

sound


Earliest Date

Jan. 1, 1830


Latest Date

Dec. 31, 1830


Inscription Date


Material

ivory; metal (silver; brass; ); cloth (silk; cotton)


Dimensions

width 64mm; height 62mm; depth 24mm


Special Collection


Provenance

Purchased from Trevor Philip & Sons, 75A Jermyn Street, St James’s, London, SW1Y 6NP, 8/10/2003.


Inscription

BY HIS MAJESTY’S LETTERS PATENT
C. WHEATSTONE
INVENTOR
20, Conduit St. Regent St.t
LONDON

55 [serial number on inside of front panel]


Description Notes

Silver plated unit with ivory lined mouthpiece and 15 keys with ivory buttons (two ivory buttons missing). The unit sits on four engraved scrolled legs decorated with swags and leaf designs. The back panel is decorated with a circlet of olive leaves. When removed the back panel reveals the lever arms which connect to the ivory buttons and control the vibrations of the 13 metal reeds. The inside of the back panel has a brown silk pad attatched to it. The front panel and mouthpiece detatches to expose the 13 metal reeds screwed into poition. Inside the back of the front cover the serial number 55 is etched.

This instrument was the forerunner to Wheatstone’s concertina and was patented in 1829.


References

Torben Rees; 'Wheatstone's symphonium'; Explore Whipple Collections online article; Whipple Museum of the History of Science; University of Cambridge; 2009: https://www.whipplemuseum.cam.ac.uk/explore-whipple-collections/acoustics/wheatstones-symphonium


Events

Description
Wheatstone symphonium
Made by Charles Wheatstone. English, c.1830

Sir Charles Wheatstone patented the symphonium, a musical instrument that is the direct predecessor to the concertina, in 1829. Unlike the concertina, which is bellows powered, the symphonium is played by blowing into the oval ivory mouthpiece and pressing the keys, which are positioned on the sides of the instrument.

28/01/2004
Created by: Ruth Horry on 28/01/2004


FM:46439

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