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Name of Instrument: harpsichord

Maker / Brand: (through Franciolini)

Stearns Catalog #: 1336

Country of Origin: Italy

Region of Origin: Europe

Instrument Category: Chordophone

Date of Fabrication:

Description: Represented by Leopoldo Franciolini in 1900 as being a Three Manual Harpsichord crafted by none other than Bartolomeo Cristofori–the inventor of the piano–this instrument is actually comprised of several instruments that have been cobbled together. Other than the obvious problems associated with a muliplicity of origins: we now also know that Cristofori never made a triple harpsichord. An evaluation of the construction of this instrument confirms that, of the several instruments that comprise this harpsichord--some details do indeed point back to the 18th Century Cristofori shop; but, not for the entire instrument. With this story in mind, it should not come as a surprise that Franciolini–as a less than scrupulous businessman–during this period sold many forged and other questionable instruments to unwary collectors. In 1910, Franciolini was found guilty of commercial fraud for having sold forged instruments, but not before hundreds of instruments had been sold with doubtful pedigrees. So widespread was his influence that many of the major collections of musical instruments in the world has or has had instruments altered by him.

Research: Christopher Dempsey

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Photography Credits:

U-M Photo Services

Joe Welsh

Peter Smith

David Smith

Glen Behring

Tom Bower