Lunsford Appalachian Dulcimer

Lunsford Appalachian Dulcimer

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This Appalachian dulcimer was made by John H. Lunsford in Ironton, Ohio, in 1876. It is a double-bout dulcimer made of walnut, with a dark wood nut and bridge, 18 metal frets, 3 strings, 2 S-shaped sound holes and 2 heart-shaped sound holes, carved out pegbox with 3 wooden friction pegs, and a violon-like carved head. There is white inlay throughout the fretboard, pegbox, and on the tuning pegs.

John H. Lunsford was a cabinetmaker in Ironton, Ohio, which is in Lawrence County, Ohio, just thirteen miles northeast of Huntington. As indicated in the collector’s notes, if this instrument was made before 1880, it would be a contemporary of some of the Thomas dulcimers, the Huntington dulcimers, and the other dulcimers of northeastern Kentucky. This dulcimer was willed to Anne Grimes’s dulcimer collection in 1958 by its maker’s son, William E. (“Eddie”) Lunsford, for whom his father made it when Eddie was a small boy. Eddie used the dulcimer, when a young man in his “one-man band” while an entertainer in Ironton hotels. He pronounced and wrote the instrument’s name as “delsmer.”

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
Lunsford, John H.
place made
United States: Ohio, Ironton
Physical Description
wood (overall material)
overall: 3 1/4 in x 7 in x 36 in; 8.255 cm x 17.78 cm x 91.44 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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