The Euphonicon (from Greek, meaning ’sweet-toned’) is more piano than harp as the strings are struck by hammers in lieu of being plucked. But unlike the harp, this unorthodox keyboard instrument was equipped with violin-shaped resonating boxes, delicate hand-painted scrollwork, and exposed strings rising vertically to the left within an iron frame.
Dr. John Steward (b. 1808) of Wolverhampton, England, patented his invention (English no. 9,023) in 1841, though his idea may have originated as an improvement upon the Johann-Christian Dietz’s German Claviharpe from 1805. It never gained much popularity; though it is rumored Florence Nightingale may have played one.
One author wrote wistfully at the hopes of its return: “Personal experience of the Euphonicon must admit that the iron frame renders it heavier than an ordinary cottage pianoforte…”