Castor Folk Fiddle


This fiddle was made by John Castor of Piney Woods, Mississippi in 1850. This folk violin from traditional violin shape has “filled” center bouts, creating a “guitar-type” outline. The instrument bears a strengthening bar inside the body extending from bottom to top block. This fiddle is made of a one-piece table of pine, one-piece back of irregularly figured maple, ribs of similar maple, maple (?) neck, pegbox and plain “handle” in hammer shape. The back of the fiddle bears a label that reads: “Made by John Castor, “Piney Woods” near / Woodville, Miss. in 1850. He was left / handed, and the best jig fiddler in / the whole country. Castor heard Charles / Wyn(er) (?) (a pupil of de Beriot) play and / out of gratitude gave him this violin. / Wyn(er) (?) gave it to William Feltus, he to / Thomas M. Wetherill, my brother, and / my brother to me, Mayer Wetherill / in 1857.”

Date Made: 1850

Maker: Castor, John

Location: Currently not on view

Place Made: United States: Mississippi, Piney Woods

See more items in: Culture and the Arts: Musical Instruments, Music & Musical Instruments, Violins


Exhibition Location:

Credit Line: Gift of Louis Krasner

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: MI.69.14Accession Number: 282344Catalog Number: 69.14

Object Name: fiddle

Physical Description: pine (table material)maple (back material)Measurements: overall: 23 7/8 in x 8 1/8 in x 4 in; 60.6425 cm x 20.6375 cm x 10.16 cm


Record Id: nmah_605623

Our collection database is a work in progress. We may update this record based on further research and review. Learn more about our approach to sharing our collection online.

If you would like to know how you can use content on this page, see the Smithsonian's Terms of Use. If you need to request an image for publication or other use, please visit Rights and Reproductions.