Violin Fingerboard Patent Model

Description (Brief)
This keyed fingerboard was patented by William Robertson of New York, New York on November 8, 1853 and received U.S. Patent number 10,213. Robertson’s invention is for a mechanical-keyed fingerboard that is placed over the strings of a normal violin to assist amateurs. The fingerboard has thirty-two buttons that can be depressed to change pitch without bringing the fingers directly in contact with the strings. The instrument is a commercial Mirecourt violin with heavily crazed varnish made around 1850. This violin is made of a two-piece table of spruce, two-piece back of maple with even medium-fine gently descending figure, ribs of similar maple, plain field maple neck, pegbox and scroll, and a semi-opaque yellow-orange varnish.
Currently not on view
Object Name
Date made
Robertson, William
Physical Description
spruce (table material)
maple (back material)
overall: 23 1/2 in x 8 in x 2 3/4 in; 59.69 cm x 20.32 cm x 6.985 cm
Place Made
United States: New York, New York
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
patent number
Music & Musical Instruments
See more items in
Culture and the Arts: Musical Instruments
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Additional Media

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