German Violin with Berliner Patent Tailpiece

Description (Brief)
This violin tailpiece was patented by Emile Berliner. Washington, DC., U.S. Patent #242,585, June 7, 1881. The violin was made in Markneukirchen, Germany, around 1880. It has an unusual spruce back and was made presumably under the direction of Mr. Berliner. Emil Berliner was an inventor working in many disciplines including the development of the modern phonograph. His invention on this violin is a mechanical device extending from the underneath the end of the fingerboard. The strings are attached to the mechanism rather than to a traditional violin tailpiece. This arrangement allows the player to adjust the downward tension of the strings on the bridge. The violin is made of a two-piece table of spruce, one-piece back of spruce, ribs of maple with even medium figure, similar maple neck, pegbox and scroll, and a transparent reddish-brown varnish.
Currently not on view
Object Name
violin tailpiece
patent date
Berliner, Emile
Physical Description
spruce (table material)
maple (part material)
overall: 24 1/4 in x 8 3/8 in x 3 7/8 in; 61.595 cm x 21.2725 cm x 9.8425 cm
Place Made
United States: District of Columbia, Washington
ID Number
accession number
catalog 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
Credit Line
Gift of Mrs. John W. Brackett
Additional Media

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