De Quoco Single Manual Harpsichord

Description (Brief)
This harpsichord was made by Nicolaus De Quoco in Florence, Italy in 1694. It is a single manual harpsichord with a compass of C - c3 (no C#), and a disposition of 2 x 8’, 1 x 4’, with ornate iron hand stops. The harpsichord has a spruce soundboard, a carved cartouche on nameboard and keywell end blocks, and boxwood-covered naturals and ebony-covered accidentals with boxwood inlay. The the wrestplank is inscribed: "NICOLAUS DE QUOCO FECIT ANNO MDCLXXXXIII."
The separable outer case is painted dark green with scroll designs and birds in orange and yellow colors on top. The interior of the cover is painted with a scene probably representing Caesar crossing the Rubicon.
Typical Italian harpsichords were of much lighter construction than those made in northern Europe - the sides of the case were only about an eighth of an inch thick. These fragile instruments were usually placed in heavier, often elaborately decorated, outer cases from which the harpsichord could be removed.
Little is known of Nicolaus De Quoco except that he lived and worked in Florence. According to Italian harpsichord specialist, Dr. Denzil Wraight, this may be the only authentic instrument by De Quoco.
Restored to playing condition 1961-1965, by William Post Ross from the shop of Frank Hubbard, this De Quoco harpsichord is currently used in concerts and featured on recordings by the Smithsonian Chamber Music Society.
Recordings currently available can be found at the following link:
Currently not on view
Object Name
date made
De Quoco, Nicolas
Physical Description
metal (overall material)
wood (overall material)
paint (overall material)
overall: 39 1/2 in x 34 1/2 in x 86 in; 100.33 cm x 87.63 cm x 218.44 cm
overall without stand: 10 1/2 in x 34 5/8 in x 85 in; 26.67 cm x 87.9475 cm x 215.9 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
See more items in
Culture and the Arts: Musical Instruments
Music & Musical Instruments
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Additional Media

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