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Catalog Data

Schwarzer, Franz  Search this
overall: 26 in x 12 1/4 in x 3 3/4 in; 66.04 cm x 31.115 cm x 9.525 cm
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Place made:
United States: Missouri, Washington
Date made:
Description (Brief):
<p>This viola was made by Franz Schwarzer in Washington, Missouri, around 1890-1900. It is a viola form converted from a cello zither. There is a printed label inside the instrument (including two facsimile 1873 Vienna Gold Medals):</p>
<p>Tuned an octave lower than the concert violin bow zither, the Schwarzer cello zithers were made to order. Company records indicate only 14 were sold. In addition to manufacturing instruments, the Schwarzer factory was engaged in sales of strings, imported mandolins, guitars and violins, production of zither tables, and repair and special order work. Although the factory was supplied with some materials from a Boston dealer in the 1890s, Schwarzer largely imported inlay material, tuning gears, rosewood, mahogany, tulipwood, burl maple, tools, and accessories from Vienna.</p>
<p>An instrument of any individual specification could be requested and produced. A Schwarzer catalog states even some violin zithers were made of old violins: "We constantly have on hand a number of old Violins of exceptional merit which we convert into Violin Zithers that have found great favor with the professional player."</p>
<p >During the 20 years following Franz's death in 1904 the factory inventory of unsold and used instruments grew quite large as the popularity of the zither and sales had receded. Even though production had essentially ceased by the late 1920s, the inventory of instruments continued to be sold until the factory was torn down in the early 1950s.</p>
<p>This instrument, originally designed as a cello zither to be laid on a table when played, has been altered into a large under-the-chin tenor instrument></p>
Currently not on view
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See more items in:
Cultural and Community Life: Musical Instruments
Music & Musical Instruments
Data Source:
National Museum of American History