Rare 1-string Phonofiddle by A.T. Howson, made in the early 1900s in London, England. One of these models can be found in the British Museum. Solid wood body with curved brass horn. Threaded brass key for securing and removing the horn. Internally held rectangular metal bar bridge with arched brass guard. Knee grips with felted wool on both sides. Brass saddle, ebony fingerboard inlaid with position marks, machine tuner. Played seated, with a bow, the instrument held between the knees inclined to the player’s shoulder (cello-like - see video). Overall length is approx. 33 inches.
Manufacturer's label reads: "TRADE MARK / PHONO FIDDLE / A. T. Howson [signature] / REG. NO. 287991." Inscribed into the wood on one of the sides is "REG No 423256."
Very good condition; well-preserved. Free shipping within the continental US. Serious international buyers may contact us for a shipping quote.
From the British Museum's description:
The Phonofiddle is a single-stringed mechanically amplified instrument; invented by A. T. Howson (1866–1928) in London c. 1904. The word ‘Phonofiddle’ was coined by Howson. Its bridge and metal (tin?) diaphragm, held internally in the body, are mechanically coupled; as the string vibrates on the bridge, the column of air inside the horn is set into vibration by the diaphragm. The horn amplifies and directs the sound forwards. There are principally three models of the monochord Phonofiddle: Popular, Artist and Virtuoso; this instrument is a standard Popular Model and continued in production until the end of the 1930s. They were much played in Edwardian music halls, but also in Concert Party and drawing-room entertainments, and amateur music-making: as a solo instrument, with piano accompaniment, even Phonofiddle duo and quartet. The instrument’s origin lies in the so-called ‘Japanese fiddle’, a Victorian vertically held single-stringed instrument.