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Images from the Graese Gallery
Alpine Zither (Arion Harp Model) by Franz Schwarzer Workshop, Washington, Missouri, ca. 1920
NMM 12881. Alpine zither (Arion harp zither) by Franz Schwarzer workshop, Washington, Missouri, ca. 1920. Custom Special Arion Harp Zither; Mittenwalder Form. Serial number 10517. 43 strings (5 melody, 38 accompaniment). Original zither table. Custom built for Emma Wellisch, prominent zither virtuoso in St. Paul, Minnesota. Ex coll.: Emma Wellisch. Paul and Jean Christian Collection, 2006.
Front, Side, and Back Views
Materials used on zither include: rosewood veneer on soundboard and back; tulipwood veneer on sides; ebony scroll, spiral pillar, fretboard, and ornamental shell; abalone, mother-of-pearl, and ivory inlay; and, gold-plated peghead plate, shield, decorative leaves, and pillar spiral.
The instrument rests on a zither table designed by Schwarzer to embellish the zither's sound, as well as hold the instrument when being played.
The original owner of this zither was Emelia ("Emma") Lawrence Wellisch (b. 1862-d. 1951), a German-speaking immigrant, who began playing the zither as a child in the 1870s. Wellisch later became a prominent zither virtuoso in the twin cities of Minneapolis/St. Paul and served in various administrative positions on the board of the Minneapolis Zither Society.
Literature: Darla Earnest, "Schwarzer's Arion Harp Zither Reflects Golden Era in USA," National Music Museum Newsletter 34, No. 1 (February 2007), pp. 1-2.