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Harmonicas, Accordions, and Related Instruments

  • The MFA’s Musical Instruments Collection contains over 1,100 examples from around the world, ranging from ancient times to the twenty-first century. Explore a selection of harmonicas, accordions and related instruments from the Museum’s holdings.

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  • Pitch pipe

    about 1820–30
    James Amireaux Bazin (American, 1798–1883)

    Object Place: Canton, Massachusetts, United States

    Description

    Outer sleeve of brass with free reed; one side marked with graduations for notes D, F, A, and C, plus intermediate hash marks for five other notes. Sliding inner sleeve of brass with arm to stop free reed at various points, thus altering pitch. Includes original black paperboard case.

    Inscription

    Stamped on inner sleeve: JAMES A. BAZIN / CANTON - MS

    Provenance

    2002, sold by Harold Priest, Kennebunk, Maine, to the MFA. (Accession Date: June 26, 2002)

    Credit Line

    Otis Norcross Fund, by exchange

    Details

    Dimensions

    Length 6 cm, width 1 cm, depth 0.8 cm (Length 2 3/8 in., width 3/8 in., depth 5/16 in.)

    Accession Number

    2002.182

    Medium or Technique

    Brass

    Not On View

    Collections

    Americas, Musical Instruments

    Classifications

    Musical instruments, Aerophones

    More Info
  • Mouth organ (symphonium)

    about 1830
    Charles Wheatstone (English, 1802–1875)

    Object Place: London, England

    Description

    Rectangular body of nickel silver standing on four out-turned legs. Front and back engraved with foliate decoration. Oval embouchure hole lined with ivory bushing. Eleven ivory-tipped buttons (six on proper right side and five on proper left) open valves for free reeds when depressed. Compass of g1 to c3 (eleven notes in diatonic scale). Pitch of A=425 cps. Original fitted case lined with red velvet and white silk; exterior covered with red leather.

    Inscription

    Engraved on front of body: BY HIS MAJESTY'S LETTERS PATENT. / C. WHEATSTONE. / INVENTOR, 20 Conduit St. Regent St. / LONDON

    Provenance

    1996, sold by Tony Bingham, London, England, to the MFA. (Accession Date: June 26, 1996)

    Credit Line

    Foster Charitable Fund and Helen and Alice Colburn Fund

    Details

    Dimensions

    Height 5.4 cm, width 5.5 cm, depth 2.3 cm (Height 2 1/8 in., width 2 3/16 in., depth 7/8 in.)

    Accession Number

    1996.115

    Medium or Technique

    Nickel silver, ivory

    On View

    Musical Instrument Gallery (Gallery 103D)

    Collections

    Europe, Musical Instruments

    Classifications

    Musical instruments, Aerophones

    More Info
  • Mouth organ (harmonica)

    about 1830–40
    James Amireaux Bazin (American, 1798–1883)

    Object Place: Canton, Massachusetts, United States

    Description

    Conical body of copper, painted dark green, with rectangular chamber soldered to side to receive removable reed cartridge. Cap of silver cap attached to wide end, perforated by two square holes. Reed cartridge comprised of seventeen square-section cells of brass, each containing free reed except end cells, which are dummies. Compass of b to b2 (fifteen notes in diatonic scale). Pitch of A=433-438 cps. Missing sliding mouthpiece.

    Inscription

    Stamped at end of body: J. A. BAZIN / B; engraved on face of body: PATENT / Sold by John Ashton / Boston

    Provenance

    By 1995, sold at auction, New Castle, Maine, to Kaja Veilleux, New Castle, Maine; 1995, sold by Veilleux to the MFA. (Accession Date: May 24, 1995)

    Credit Line

    Gift of Allen B. Sly and William Lindsey Fund, by exchange

    Details

    Dimensions

    Length 9.4 cm, width 5.7 cm, thickness 3.1 cm (Length 3 11/16 in., width 2 1/4 in., thickness 1 1/4 in.)

    Accession Number

    1995.87

    Medium or Technique

    Copper, brass

    Not On View

    Collections

    Americas, Musical Instruments

    Classifications

    Musical instruments, Aerophones

    More Info
    Multimedia
    • audio

      MIAudio35.mp3

  • Mouth organ (harmoni-cor)

    about 1865
    Louis Julien Jaulin (French, active mid-19th century)

    Object Place: Paris, France

    Description

    Music: Allegro, from Harmonicor-Jaulin Instrument Nouveau Methode by Giacomo Ferraris (performed by Darcy Kuronen)

    Inscription

    Stamped on bell: HARMONI-COR / JAULIN INV / S G D G / PARIS

    Provenance

    2005, gift of the New England Conservatory to the MFA. (Accession Date: April 27, 2005)

    Credit Line

    Gift of the New England Conservatory of Music

    Details

    Dimensions

    Length 55.8 cm, bell diameter 6.5 cm (Length 21 15/16 in., bell diameter 2 9/16 in.)

    Accession Number

    2005.208

    Medium or Technique

    Mahogany, ebony, ivory, silver-plated brass

    On View

    Musical Instruments Alcove (Gallery 103C)

    Collections

    Europe, Musical Instruments

    Classifications

    Musical instruments, Aerophones

    More Info
    Multimedia
    • audio

      MIAudio108.mp3

  • Mouth organ (chromatic harmonica)

    about 1925
    Koch (German, active early 20th century German)

    Object Place: Wurtemberg, Germany

    Description

    Inscription

    Inscribed on both plates: ALPINA / KOCH-HARMONICA / MADE IN WURTEMBERG

    Provenance

    1984, sold by Douglas Deihl, Northampton, Massachusetts, to the MFA. (Accession Date: June 13, 1984)

    Credit Line

    Helen and Alice Colburn Fund

    Details

    Dimensions

    Length 23.8 cm, width 5 cm, thickness 2.1 cm (Length 9 3/8 in., width 1 15/16 in., thickness 13/16 in.)

    Accession Number

    1984.310

    Medium or Technique

    Wood, metal

    Not On View

    Collections

    Europe, Musical Instruments

    Classifications

    Musical instruments, Aerophones

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  • Mouth organ (harmonica)

    about 1910
    F. A. Böhm (German, active early 20th century German)

    Object Place: Germany

    Description

    Wedge-shaped oblong block of wood, containing set of free reeds giving 32 chromatic tones. Protected on both sides by segment-shaped metal shields; metal bell at larger end.

    Inscription

    Engraved on body: F. A. Böhm / The best made; engraved on reverse side: TRADE / [image of boat] / MARK / GESETZLICH GE SCHÜTZT. / TROMBONA / D.R.G.M. No. 118737 F. A. Böhm. MADE IN GERMANY

    Provenance

    Francis W. Galpin (1858-1945), Hatfield Regis, England; 1916, sold by Francis W. Galpin to William Lindsey (1858-1922), Boston, Massachusetts; 1916, gift of William Lindsey, in memory of his daughter, Leslie Lindsey Mason, to the MFA. (Accession Date: October 5, 1916)

    Credit Line

    Leslie Lindsey Mason Collection

    Details

    Dimensions

    Length 15 cm, width 5.7 cm (Length 5 7/8 in., width 2 1/4 in.)

    Accession Number

    17.1741

    Medium or Technique

    Wood, nickel silver

    Not On View

    Collections

    Europe, Musical Instruments

    Classifications

    Musical instruments, Aerophones

    More Info
  • Automatic harmonica (Rolmonica)

    about 1930–40
    Rolmonica Music Co. (American, about 1925–? American)

    Object Place: Baltimore, Maryland, United States

    Description

    Provenance

    1984, sold by Douglas Deihl, Northampton, Massachusetts, to the MFA. (Accession Date: June 13, 1984)

    Credit Line

    Helen and Alice Colburn Fund

    Details

    Dimensions

    Length 10 cm, width 9 cm, thickness 4 cm (Length 3 15/16 in., width 3 9/16 in., thickness 1 9/16 in.)

    Accession Number

    1984.311.1-6

    Medium or Technique

    Bakelite plastic

    Not On View

    Collections

    Americas, Musical Instruments

    Classifications

    Musical instruments, Aerophones

    More Info
  • Concertina

    about 1844
    Charles Wheatstone (English, 1802–1875)

    Object Place: London, England

    Description

    Provenance

    2005, sold by Douglas Creighton, Sunderland, Massachusetts, to the MFA. (Accession Date: April 27, 2005)

    Credit Line

    Arthur Tracy Cabot Fund

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 12.1 x 17.8 x 15.9 cm (4 3/4 x 7 x 6 1/4 in.)

    Accession Number

    2005.124

    Medium or Technique

    Rosewood, bone, nickel silver, leather, paper

    On View

    Musical Instrument Gallery (Gallery 103D)

    Collections

    Europe, Musical Instruments

    Classifications

    Musical instruments, Aerophones

    More Info
  • Concertina

    about 1865
    Cramer & Co. (English, founded about 1863 English)

    Object Place: London, England

    Description

    Hexagonal rosewood case with ornamentally perforated covers. Green leather bellows (four-fold). Two thumb-straps for holding. Twenty- four touches on either side. The reeds for each tone are doubled and are located on either side of the reed diaphragms, so that a continuous tone for a note is provided for either motion of the bellows.

    Provenance

    Francis W. Galpin (1858-1945), Hatfield Regis, England; 1916, sold by Francis W. Galpin to William Lindsey (1858-1922), Boston, Massachusetts; 1916, gift of William Lindsey, in memory of his daughter, Leslie Lindsey Mason, to the MFA. (Accession Date: October 5, 1916)

    Credit Line

    Leslie Lindsey Mason Collection

    Details

    Dimensions

    Width 15.6 cm, thickness with bellows compressed 11.3 cm (Width 6 1/8 in., thickness with bellows compressed 4 7/16 in.)

    Accession Number

    17.1945

    Medium or Technique

    Rosewood, leather, paper

    Not On View

    Collections

    Europe, Musical Instruments

    Classifications

    Musical instruments, Aerophones

    More Info
  • Accordion

    about 1840–50
    Constant Busson (French, active 1835–after 1892 French)

    Object Place: Paris, France

    Description

    Inscription

    Stamped on body: BUSSON / BREVETE / PARIS

    Provenance

    Before 1998, sold by a "local" antiques store to Joseph G. DeSalvo, III; by 1998, gift to his father, Joseph G. DeSalvo, Jr., Wenham, Massachusetts; 1998, gift of DeSalvo, Jr., to the MFA. (Accession Date: June 24, 1998)

    Credit Line

    Gift of Mrs. and Mrs. Joseph G. DeSalvo, Jr. in memory of Joseph G. Desalvo III

    Details

    Dimensions

    Length 29.7 cm, width 11.7 cm, depth with bellows compressed 9.8 cm (Length 11 11/16 in., width 4 5/8 in., depth with bellows compressed 3 7/8 in.)

    Accession Number

    1998.100

    Medium or Technique

    Rosewood, mother-of-pearl, brass

    Not On View

    Collections

    Europe, Musical Instruments

    Classifications

    Musical instruments, Aerophones

    More Info
  • Accordion

    about 1860

    Object Place: France

    Description

    Includes original fiberboard box and period instruction booklet.

    Provenance

    Mid-nineteenth century, Charles and Mary (Macy) Sherman, Massachusetts; by inheritance to their daughter, Ella Sherman Whiteside; about 1940, by inheritance to her daughter, Julia Whiteside Ware, Bedford, Massachusetts; about 1970, by descent to her daughter, Elizabeth Macy Ware, Newburyport, Massachusetts; 2006, sold by Ware to the MFA. (Accession Date: January 25, 2006)

    Credit Line

    Museum purchase with funds donated by the Wolfe family in memory of Elise Wolfe

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 16 x 38 x 13.5 cm (6 5/16 x 14 15/16 x 5 5/16 in.)

    Accession Number

    2006.817

    Medium or Technique

    Wood, mother-of-pearl, paper

    On View

    Musical Instrument Gallery (Gallery 103D)

    Collections

    Musical Instruments

    Classifications

    Musical instruments, Aerophones

    More Info
  • Accordion

    about 1860

    Object Place: France

    Description

    Rectangular rosewood-veneered case. Five-fold pasteboard bellows covered with colored paper in floral pattern. Twenty-six round mother-of-pearl valve covers with rectangular mother-of-pearl touchpieces, arranged in two rows. Two bass keys with long levers for the right hand; two bass keys for the left hand.  -valve and lever broken off. Includes stained softwood case lined with floral-pattern textile; a loose scarf inside.

    Provenance

    Before 1912, Esther M. Morcombe neé Newhall, who the instrument was purchased for and used by; by 1975, by descent to her granddaughter, Pearl E. Squires, Melrose, Massachusetts, to the MFA. (Accession Date: September 10, 1975)

    Credit Line

    Gift of Pearl E. Squires in memory of Esther M. Morcombe

    Details

    Dimensions

    Length 30.8 cm, width 13.2 cm, depth with bellows compressed 12.2 cm (Length 12 1/8 in., width 5 3/16 in., depth with bellows compressed 4 13/16 in.)

    Accession Number

    1975.391

    Medium or Technique

    Rosewood

    Not On View

    Collections

    Musical Instruments

    Classifications

    Musical instruments, Aerophones

    More Info
  • Accordion

    about 1860
    Distributed by Keith, Prowse & Co. (English, 1829 or 1831–after 1950 English)

    Object Place: France

    Description

    Rectangular wooden case decorated with wooden scrolls. Five- fold pasteboard bellows. Twenty-three [ed. - twenty-four] touches arranged in two rows with mother-of-pearl linings; round pearl keys. The basses are arranged on both sides: the right-hand basses (2) have long levers and are operated by the finger-joints; the left-hand basses are arranged for operation by the thumb and the ring and middle fingers.

    Provenance

    Francis W. Galpin (1858-1945), Hatfield Regis, England; 1916, sold by Francis W. Galpin to William Lindsey (1858-1922), Boston, Massachusetts; 1916, gift of William Lindsey, in memory of his daughter, Leslie Lindsey Mason, to the MFA. (Accession Date: October 5, 1916)

    Credit Line

    Leslie Lindsey Mason Collection

    Details

    Dimensions

    Length 38.9 cm, width 12.6 cm, depth with bellows compressed 19.7 cm (Length 15 5/16 in., width 4 15/16 in., depth with bellows compressed 7 3/4 in.)

    Accession Number

    17.1946

    Medium or Technique

    Ebonized wood

    Not On View

    Collections

    Musical Instruments

    Classifications

    Musical instruments, Aerophones

    More Info
  • Mélophone

    about 1845
    Charles Alexandre Pellerin (French, active mid-19th century French)

    Object Place: Paris, France

    Description

    Compass from B-e”’, with the additional tones G, G-sharp, A, and A-sharp for octaves. A guitar-shaped case of bird’s-eye maple, containing a double bellows operated by a handle affixed to two plunger rods. On the top of this case is a cover of the same shape, but smaller, with ribs of bird’s- eye maple and belly of spruce with two F-holes as on a violin. The cover protects the valve mechanism, consisting of eighty-three valves with operating levers, springs, and control wires located on the top of the air chamber; the later is split in two parts held by six hinged screws with wing- nuts, thus permitting easy access to the reeds and air valves. There is a short neck with a small decorative scroll affixed to the air chamber. On the front surface of the neck are eighty-four semicircular touches of German silver, spaced by a perforated plate into seven longitudinal rows, each containing twelve touches. An octave coupling lever is at the back of the neck. An old, probably original wood case is associated with the instrument. For a longer and more detailed description by Darcy Kuronen, see the instrument file.

    Provenance

    Francis W. Galpin (1858-1945), Hatfield Regis, England; 1916, sold by Francis W. Galpin to William Lindsey (1858-1922), Boston, Massachusetts; 1916, gift of William Lindsey, in memory of his daughter, Leslie Lindsey Mason, to the MFA. (Accession Date: October 5, 1916)

    Credit Line

    Leslie Lindsey Mason Collection

    Details

    Dimensions

    Length 77.6 cm, width 30.3 cm, depth 12 cm (Length 30 9/16 in., width 11 15/16 in., depth 4 3/4 in.)

    Accession Number

    17.1947

    Medium or Technique

    Maple

    Not On View

    Collections

    Europe, Musical Instruments

    Classifications

    Musical instruments, Aerophones

    More Info
  • Melodeon (lap organ)

    about 1840
    Abraham Prescott (American, 1789–1858)

    Object Place: Concord, New Hampshire, United States

    Description

    Compass F to a”. Rectangular walnut case with double bellows. Two removable maple covers with slides for the contrasting forte and piano effects; the slides are moved by a sliding lever.

    Provenance

    Before 1964, Alice Prescott Harmon; by 1964, by descent to her son, Carl Harmon, Medfield, Massachusetts; 1964, gift of Harmon to the MFA. (Accession Date: October 23, 1985)

    Credit Line

    Gift of Mr. Carl Harmon in memory of his mother, Alice Prescott Harmon

    Details

    Dimensions

    Length 47.7 cm, width 26.1 cm, height with bellows compressed 12 cm (Length 18 3/4 in., width 10 1/4 in., height with bellows compressed 4 3/4 in.)

    Accession Number

    64.2377

    Medium or Technique

    Rosewood

    Not On View

    Collections

    Americas, Musical Instruments

    Classifications

    Musical instruments, Aerophones

    More Info
  • Melodeon (lap organ)

    about 1850
    Charles Austin (American, 1813–1884 American)

    Object Place: Concord, New Hampshire, United States

    Description

    Compass from F to a”. Rectangular wooden case with double bellows. The bellows are divided diagonally by a thick wooden diaphragm into two chambers. The lower (left-hand) chamber serves as the primary bellows (feeder) and the upper (right-hand) chamber as a combined wind-chest and pressure increaser. The lower chamber has double flat steel spring; the upper chamber has a single flat steel spring. Two strip valves in the lower chamber, one strip valve in the upper chamber. The reed-frame serves as a cover for the upper chamber and the reed carrier. The reed are protected by two removable covers with slides for the contrasting forte and piano effects; the slides are moved by a sliding lever. The touches are round ivory buttons disposed in two rows: the one nearest the player has twenty-four touches and corresponds to the naturals on the piano; the second row, with a black circle on the top of each touch, has seventeen touches corresponding to the sharps. Between the touches there is a printed paper strip with the letters of the tones.

    Provenance

    Francis W. Galpin (1858-1945), Hatfield Regis, England; 1916, sold by Francis W. Galpin to William Lindsey (1858-1922), Boston, Massachusetts; 1916, gift of William Lindsey, in memory of his daughter, Leslie Lindsey Mason, to the MFA. (Accession Date: October 5, 1916)

    Credit Line

    Leslie Lindsey Mason Collection

    Details

    Dimensions

    Length 47.7 cm, width 25.9 cm, height with bellows compressed 11.8 cm (Length 18 3/4 in., width 10 3/16 in., height with bellows compressed 4 5/8 in.)

    Accession Number

    17.1948

    Medium or Technique

    Rosewood

    Not On View

    Collections

    Americas, Musical Instruments

    Classifications

    Musical instruments, Aerophones

    More Info
  • Melodeon (lap organ)

    about 1845
    Daniel B. Bartlett (active 1844–1848 American)

    Object Place: Concord, New Hampshire, United States

    Description

    Provenance

    September 15, 1968, sold by Lee Collins, Georges Mill, New Hampshire, to Laurence Leonard; 2006, gift of Leonard to the MFA. (Accession Date: September 20, 2006)

    Credit Line

    Gift of Laurence Leonard

    Details

    Dimensions

    Overall: 12.7 x 30.5 x 58.4 cm (5 x 12 x 23 in.) Rosewood case: 17.8 x 35.6 cm (7 x 14 in.)

    Accession Number

    2006.1359

    Medium or Technique

    Rosewood

    Not On View

    Collections

    Americas, Musical Instruments

    Classifications

    Musical instruments, Aerophones

    More Info
  • Melodeon (lap organ)

    about 1845–50
    A. Prescott & Son (American, active in 1845–1850)

    Object Place: Concord, New Hampshire, United States

    Description

    Music: Sicilian Mariner’s Hymn to the Virgin, traditional, 1794 (performed by Darcy Kuronen)

    Inscription

    Stamped by swell knob: A. PRESCOTT / MANUFACTURER / CONCORD N.H.; stamped inside case: 699; handwritten in pencil at bottom of storage box: Mr. EIijah J. Budd's Melodion & Box; printed broadside glued inside lid of storage box: ABRAHAM PRESCOTT & SON, / MANUFACTURERS OF / SERAPHINES AND MELODIONS, / PREMIUM BASS AND DOUBLE BASS VIOLS, / AND DEALERS IN / Musical Instruments, Umbrellas, Parasols, &c. &c. / Instruments and Umbrellas Repaired at short notice, and / WARRANTED. / Opposite the Columbian Hotel, Concord, N. H. / Care should be taken in blowing the Melodion, to give a steady / pressure, as a sudden motion may injure its tone. / Morrill, Silsby & Co., Printers, Concord, N.H.

    Provenance

    Before 1897, Elijah J. Budd (1823-1897), Newark, New York, who played it in a Methodist Church. Presumably, by descent to his granddaughter, Esther W. Rogers, and then to one of her relatives, Edward Weissman, Portsmouth, New Hampshire; by 2002, sold by Weissman to Michael E. Reese, Thomaston, Maine; 2002, sold by Reese to the MFA. (Accession Date: September 25, 2002)

    Credit Line

    Samuel Putnam Avery Fund

    Details

    Dimensions

    Length 57.6 cm, width 29.2 cm, height with bellows compressed 12.4 cm (Length 22 11/16 in., width 11 1/2 in., height with bellows compressed 4 7/8 in.)

    Accession Number

    2002.380

    Medium or Technique

    Rosewood, maple, ivory

    Not On View

    Collections

    Americas, Musical Instruments

    Classifications

    Musical instruments, Aerophones

    More Info

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