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NMM 10882.  Electronic harpsichord by Frank Holton & Co., Elkhorn, Wisconsin, ca. 1937-1940.
Serial number 119.  Ex coll.:  Lloyd Allayre Loar, Evanston, Illinois.
Gift of Roger Siminoff, Arroyo Grande, California, 2005.

Though he was only 56 at the time, Lloyd Loar's declining health and poor "war-time" business prospects may have been significant factors in his decision to put his life's work with musical instruments into storage in the fall of 1942. On September 14, 1943, Loar was dead. The instruments, in their wooden packing crates, remained in the possession of Loar's widow, Bertha, and she brought them with her, when she moved to California in 1949. In the spring of 1994, Roger Siminoff, who had befriended Bertha, brought the instruments out of storage and unpacked them. Among the keyboard instruments uncovered in this stash of Loar's private instruments were two Holton electronic harpsichords (NMM 10881 and 10882), the accompanying Webster Electric Co. amplifier (NMM 10883) and Holton speaker (NMM 10884), and his Vivi-Tone clavier (NMM 10878), its amplifier (NMM 10879) and speaker (NMM 10880). Also among the instruments were Loar's own viola, electric viola, mandola, and F-5 mandolin. One instrument that escaped the packing crates was a Vivi-Tone electric violin (NMM 57) that Loar instead sent to Arne B. Larson, his former acoustics student at Northwestern University, in late 1942 or early 1943 (see NMM Newsletter, February 2005, pp. 1-3).

Inscriptions:  Engraved on metal plate screwed onto center of nameboard:  ELECTRONIC-HARPSICHORD / --MADE BY-- / Frank Holton & Co. / ELKHORN, WISCONSIN / --PATENTS PENDING--
Stamped in wood on right side of pinblock:  119
Note names stamped in black ink above natural notes.

Description:  Rectangular wood body, with fold-back hinged cover for keyboard and hinged cover for pinblock. Hinged music rack with stylized H cut out of center. Rounded covers screwed onto each corner. Four removable, tubular chrome-plated steel legs with castors. 56 strings. Black plastic volume knob mounted with trapezoidal metal plate on left side of name board, marked with ON and OFF, no numbers. Single foot pedal on removable rectangular attachment.

Keyboard:  4-1/2 octaves, CC-g4; 33 ivoroid keys, 23 black keys.

Mechanism:  Each string is plucked by a curved metal plectrum that moves in an elliptical path, when the key is struck. The mechanism is somewhat touch-sensitive, allowing for use of dynamics. The strings function as armatures for magnetic pickups.

Height: 80 cm / 31.5″
Width: 59.3 cm / 23.346″
Depth: 32 cm / 12.59″

Return to Checklist of Instruments Designed by Lloyd Loar

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