Deagan Friction Harp

Deagan Friction Harp

Usage conditions apply
Description (Brief)

This friction harp was made by J. C. Deagan, Inc. in Chicago, Illinois, about 1920. It is comprised of a set of 25 tuned aluminum tubes that fit into a wood strip with metal thumb screws to hold the tubes in place. The wood strip is supported by a collapsible metal frame. Accessioned with a pair of tan cotton gloves, a jar of rosin, and wooden storage box.

John Calhoun Deagan (1853-1934), a first generation American of Irish descent, was a musician, inventor, and musical instrument manufacturer. He began making musical instruments in 1898 in St. Louis, Missouri. By 1913, his firm was incorporated in Chicago as J.C. Deagan Bells, Inc., and three years later would become J.C. Deagan, Inc.

Currently not on view
Object Name
friction harp
date made
ca 1920
J. C. Deagan, Inc.
place made
United States: Illinois, Chicago
Physical Description
metal, aluminum (overall material)
metal (overall material)
wood (overall material)
overall: 4 3/8 in x 90 in x 8 1/2 in; 11.1125 cm x 228.6 cm x 21.59 cm
overall in case: 4 1/2 in x 90 1/4 in x 9 in; 11.43 cm x 229.235 cm x 22.86 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Gift of Wren Ingram
See more items in
Culture and the Arts: Musical Instruments
Music & Musical Instruments
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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The Aluminum Harp featured in a show by a family called The Musical Eckardts who toured western Canada in 1909. The also played the Marimbaphone, Swiss Bells, Musical rattles (with patent resonators). The newspaper advertising comment about the Aluminum Harp read "The fairy music, by the Eckardt Bros, affects the listener as if produced by the power of enchantment."
The aluminum harp or aluminum bar was mentioned in articles about a vaudeville group called the Musical Reeses, who toured in 1911- about 1915, with an act featuring saxophones, cornet, piano, singing in various combinations. They were from Indiana and performed mostly in the midwest. Could this be what they were using?

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