Who Made Swan-shaped Dulcimer?

Lois Sprengnether Keel
Lois Sprengnether Keel
@lois-sprengnether-keel
2 months ago
172 posts

I'm so glad I opened a message yesterday.  I was finally able to know what had puzzled me for years.

 

Hello Lois, my name is Troy Price and I reside in Indiana. I came across you by simply searching my grandfather's name in Google. You see I was up late tonight talking with my wife about my father and him being amazing carpenters and discussing how much working with wood ran in my family. Then started to tell her about my grandfather Neville Price being very good at building musical instruments, Dulcimers in particular. As well as hammer dulcimers, violins, harps ect. While I was doing a simple Google search with his name I saw a thread on dulcimers as well as the photos of one that i believe he built that you have. It was one that you had somehow tracked back to him. Neville Price of shelbyville Indiana. That you were wondering if anyone had heard of him . I can say that beyond any doubt that you are correct. He is very likely the builder of the of that you have. I know that over his life that he had built nearly 500 Dulcimers of the variety that you have. Nearly every one original in wood work and detail. That he was a very amazing man when it came to building things of such detail from furniture, to puzzles, or a house. He was a very creative and amazing man in his craft. I'm so very happy to have seen your post and being able to enjoy his dulcimer. It looks as if it has found a wonderful home! If you have any questions feel free to ask. Thank you for your time in reading this. Have a very blessed day!

LoiS(omeday I hope to let the Price family see my beloved "Swannie!")

P.S. @greg-gunner"> @greg-gunner , you win the Cryptology prize!  Indiana players you definitely had Neville Price in your history & now I can correctly credit him.  I suspected as much since I fell in love with its tone & unique appearance at an antique store near the Indiana/Michigan border.

Banjimer
Banjimer
@greg-gunner
10 months ago
110 posts

I have no idea who might have made your dulcimer, but the signature looks like it could either be "N. Mills" or "Neville".  Are there any dulcimer makers who fit either of those interpretations of the signature?   None come to mind. 

Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
10 months ago
1,767 posts

Lois Sprengnether Keel:

 I look at it and it doesn't look as refined as those chairs, but it's an idea.  His finish is definitely more "rustic", especially on the back.

Like I said, swan head armchairs and rocking chairs were made long ago in the Victorian era mostly, but then there were also reproductions of them made later on like in the 1930s-70s.  The repros tend to be more simplified (less refined and less complex carving) as the original era antiques. Your dulcimer's headstock fits that style.  The later repros are now of course vintage 'antiques' themselves.




--
Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
Lois Sprengnether Keel
Lois Sprengnether Keel
@lois-sprengnether-keel
10 months ago
172 posts

@robin-thompson"> @robin-thompson  said:

Lois, there is an element or two of this instrument which I've seen before-- the swan head being the more notable element.  I can't recall, though, when I saw some similar photos.  I'm hoping somebody knows who the maker was!

Hi Robin, you've been close enough to areas where the maker may have been.  Even if it proves to be recycled furniture as Strumelia suggests, it might lead to more information.

 

Lois Sprengnether Keel
Lois Sprengnether Keel
@lois-sprengnether-keel
10 months ago
172 posts

Hmmm.  Wonder who is knowledgeable about wood?  We recently lost our local Native American flute maker, Don Hayes.  He really knew his woods.  I'll ask his widow if their son, who took the woodshop tools & wood, could tell me.  I look at it and it doesn't look as refined as those chairs, but it's an idea.  His finish is definitely more "rustic", especially on the back. 

Showed it just now to my husband and he dared to want to improve that finish!  NO!

That woodburned signature looks to me like it ends in "...ville."

Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
10 months ago
1,767 posts

When i saw the pictures of this dulcimer, I immediately thought that the maker used the carved swan head arm from an antique chair for the head stock.  Such carved swan head chair arms were fairly popular both long ago and again in later reproductions of Victorian furniture. I suspect the swan head was recycled from an old discarded chair, the rest of the dulcimer having been built at a later time than when the chair was made.  In my eyes, the smooth stylized mahogany swan head doesn't really seem to match the whole rest of the instrument which is decidedly more rustic. Look at some of these vintage and antique chairs for typical carved swan head arms. One like this one could have easily been cut and adapted as a head stock.  I also think the 'wing' decorative element might have come from recycled furniture, and the fretbord may have been a mahogany piece from furniture as well.  I think whoever made the dulcimer was into using old furniture wood for thier projects.




--
Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
Robin Thompson
Robin Thompson
@robin-thompson
10 months ago
1,035 posts

Lois, there is an element or two of this instrument which I've seen before-- the swan head being the more notable element.  I can't recall, though, when I saw some similar photos.  I'm hoping somebody knows who the maker was! 




--
Robin T
one of the Moderators here :)
Keep a song in your heart!
Lois Sprengnether Keel
Lois Sprengnether Keel
@lois-sprengnether-keel
10 months ago
172 posts

I posted these 6 photos on my page of an unusual dulcimer possibly made by a builder in Indiana.  It was suggested I also post them here.  The builder's logo/signature are woodburned into it and should help.


updated by @lois-sprengnether-keel: 10/27/19 12:02:25PM