Plucked Dulcimer by "Dr." Sidney A. Telton

Plucked Dulcimer by "Dr." Sidney A. Telton

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Description (Brief)

This plucked dulcimer is an example of the Pennsylvania German Scheitholtz tradition zither with straight sides, thought to be the precursor of the Appalachian plucked dulcimer. It was likely made by "Dr." Sidney A. Tilton in the late 1880s in Licking County, Ohio. With two of five strings fretted on fifteen frets, it is made from three pieces of walnut, one piece pierced to form the soundbox, tuning head, and tailpiece, and one piece each for the back and belly. Its sole decoration is a heart shaped sound hole.

"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.

Currently not on view
Object Name
date made
ca 1885 - 1890
Physical Description
wood (overall material)
overall: 9 cm x 10 cm x 95.5 cm; 3 9/16 in x 3 15/16 in x 37 5/8 in
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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