Lyre Guitar

  • Maker: Possibly Joseph Pons (French, born 1776) (probably a son of César Pons)
  • Date: ca. 1805
  • Geography: Paris, France
  • Culture: French
  • Materials: Mahogany, spruce, ebony, brass, nickel-silver, gilding
  • Dimensions: Height: 34 1/4 in. (87 cm) Width: 14 3/8 in. (36.5 cm)

DP105342

This form of the guitar was created about 1785. The columnar arms supporting the yoke are veneered in mahogany. The guitar has six single courses of strings. A printed label inside the instrument reads: “Pons / fils / luthier, / Rue du Grand Hurleur / No. 5 / A Paris, an 13.” The phrase “an 13” refers to the thirteenth year (1804–1805) of the French Revolutionary Calendar.
Renaissance paintings by Lorenzo Costa and Raffaellino Garbo show lyre-guitars held upright (possibly interpretations of incised strings in classical bas-reliefs), as they were properly held by the player. Essentially, the lyre-guitar was a modified version of the lyre of antiquity, but with a fingerboard and six strings. English lyre-guitars were sold from 1811 as the six-string “Apollo” lyre of Edward Light and the twelve-string “Imperyal Lyre” of Angelo Benedetto Ventura.

Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings:  (printed label within ornamental border) “Pons, fils/luthier,/Rue du Grand Hurleur/No. 5/A Paris, an 13.”; (stamped on front of pegbox and on soundboard just below fingerboard) “Pons fils/à Paris”

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