I wanted to add that I contacted the person selling it on consignment, and asked if they could find anything else out. He responded that the dulcimer was purchased used, near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, at some unknown date by the seller.
Oddball double fretboard dulcimer
This dulcimer would be impossible to bow, no matter how you held it. Even if you (ridiculously) tried to bow all 4 strings of each side at the same time (each set of 4 strings is laid out FLAT on its fret board half), if you look at the closeup, you'll see that because of the slanted fret board, an angled bow trying to bow it would be bashing into the lower body bout. It's completely impossible to bow.
So- it's also not a courting dulcimer meant for two people- firstly, the fretboards are not in opposite directions. Secondly, even if the other player was a lefty, see how it would place the bass string nearer the lefthanded player's body and the two melody strings at far side of the player. The odds of anyone playing this way and ALSO being lefthanded are almost non-existent.
This is simply a dulcimer someone made so that they could jump back and forth when they wanted to between a chromatic and a diatonic fretboard. They could also have it tuned to two different keys if they liked playing in jams without having to retune or bring two instruments. Maybe one fretboard was intended for playing old traditional ballads and the other intended for modern music/blues etc. That would all also explain the electric pickup.
The two different slants for the fret boards enable one to angle the pick so you can play on one fret board while avoiding the other one.
Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
There's a classic photo of an older woman bowing a regular dulcimer. She sits back from the edge of a table with the tail of the dulcimer in her lap and the body leaned up against the edge of the table directly away from her. This instrument could certainly be bowed that way. But who knows! Maybe it was a John Jacob Niles experiment!!
The fretboard is set up so that you have both diatonic and chromatic frets. Diatonic under all 7 strings, and chromatic only under the first three strings.
HUGE amount of soundhole area -- far more than is needed.
The way the fretboard is "radiused" with a ridge rather than a curve (never seen anything quite like that), plus the narrowness of the bouts makes me wonder if it wasn't intended to be a bowed instrument.
updated by @ken-hulme: 02/08/19 07:12:53PM
I wanted to share a picture of the used dulcimer I just got in the mail today. I thought it was very unique, and wasn't too expensive, they listed it as poor condition. Really, it's just homemade, an amateur build. I don't care, I love this thing! It's got great resonance and sustain, and the frets seem to be placed well, as it plays in tune pretty good. It's electric, but I think I need some adaptor as the plug opening is small. I'm not overly interested in the electric feature, but will see if it works.
Thanks for looking, Lisa