Ruckers Virginal

Ruckers Virginal

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Description (Brief)
This harpsichord was made by Andreas Ruckers, the Elder, in Antwerp in 1620. It is a rectangular-shaped virginal, serial number 69, with a compass of C/E - c3, and a disposition of 1 x8’. This instrument is a “quint pitch” instrument, tuned a fifth higher than its apparent pitch. That is, when the C key is pressed, the note sounded is approximately G. The naturals are covered in bone with unusual cut leather arcades and the accidentals are made from black-stained oak.
The harpsichord has a soundboard decorated with painted flowers and blue scalloped lines around the bridges and soundboard edges. The soundboard contains a gilt metal rose with an angel harpist and the initials “AR.”
The jackrail is inscribed: “ANDREAS RVCKERS ME FECIT ANTVERPIAE” and may not be original to the instrument. The soundboard is inscribed “1620.”
The inseparable case is painted a dark reddish brown and the inside lid, lockboard, keyboard well and soundboard surround are covered with block printed paper. The inside of the lid is inscribed: “SIC TRANSIT GLORIA MVNDI” (Thus passes the glory of the world.).
The stand is painted a dark reddish brown and probably not original to the instrument.
This instrument was restored to playing condition by William Dowd in 1959. The paper surfaces were restored by Janice Hines in 1961. Research indicates that the soundboard paintings appear to be 19th century or later following traces of the original design. This instrument is 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
Ruckers, Andreas
place made
Belgium: Flanders, Antwerp
Physical Description
wood (overall material)
paint (overall material)
metal (overall material)
overall: 40 in x 45 3/4 in x 19 in; 101.6 cm x 116.205 cm x 48.26 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Gift of Hugo Worch
See more items in
Culture and the Arts: Musical Instruments
Music & Musical Instruments
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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Question: The description says, "This instrument is a “quint pitch” instrument, tuned a fifth higher than its apparent pitch. That is, when the C key is pressed, the note sounded is approximately G." Wouldn't a fifth higher than C be E? C, C-sharp, D, D-sharp, E. Why would the sharps/flats not be counted as intervals?

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