Tilton German Scheitholt Zither

Tilton German Scheitholt Zither

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This German Scheitholt type zither was likely made by "Dr." Sidney A. Tilton in Licking County, Ohio, about 1885-1890. It has a trapezoidal shaped body made from walnut, with a metal nut and bridge, five strings (two melody and three drones), 15 metal frets, 1 round sound hole and 1 heart-shaped sound hole, 5 tuning pins, and a rounded head.

As per the collector Anne Grimes, "Dr." Tilton was not a medical doctor but was known for expertise in the use of herbal medicine. He was left a widower with two small daughters, Erma and Myrtle. Myrtle was blind. "Dr." Tilton made Myrtle the dulcimer and taught her to play it when she was a little girl. Later he bought his daughters a piano. Myrtle and her father sometimes gave concerts, she on the dulcimer and he on the fiddle, playing old-time songs and tunes such as "The Irish Washerwoman." After Myrtle attended the State School for the Blind in Columbus, Ohio, her repertoire widened.

Anne Grimes (1912-2004) was an American journalist, musician, and historian of American (particularly Midwestern) folklore. Grimes studied voice and piano at Ohio Wesleyan and initiated graduate studies at Ohio State University. Following her education, Grimes was a music teacher, music and dance critic, and radio host. After WWII, Grimes began collecting and documenting folk songs throughout Ohio, as well as collecting Appalachian dulcimers and zithers. She would continue this work, performing, recording, and lecturing on instruments from her collection throughout the rest of her career.

Currently not on view
Object Name
date made
ca 1885 - 1890
place made
United States: Ohio
Physical Description
wood (overall material)
overall: 3 in x 3 3/4 in x 33 5/8 in; 7.62 cm x 9.525 cm x 85.4075 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
collector/donor number
See more items in
Cultural and Community Life: Musical Instruments
Music & Musical Instruments
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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