Apollo Lyre

This instrument, the Apollo Lyre, is actually a guitar hybrid. It has been designed to look like a lyre and people would have played it in an upright position. However, it has the strings and frets of a guitar.

Such instruments were popular in the nineteenth century. Educated ladies would sing with them at fashionable gatherings. Yaniewicz & Company in Liverpool made this one around 1800, when neo-Classicism was in vogue.

The Apollo Lyre features in Greek myth. Hermes is said to have invented the instrument, making his lyre’s sound box from a tortoise shell. Apollo fell in love with its sound, and Hermes sold the first lyre to him for a herd of cattle.

The arms of this instrument imitate the classical lyre’s shape and are ornamented with gilding. The body is also highly decorated, with golden patterns of repeating leaves. On the top of the guitar neck is a gilded Grecian female head, which is surrounded by a sunburst in an antique style. In addition there are gilded faces intertwined with the leaf pattern on the body of the lyre.

The front of the lyre is made from spruce, and the back from sycamore. The finger-board is ebony with fifteen frets and a circular sound-hole. The seven strings are attached to pegs made from African hardwood. To access these pegs for re-stringing, the golden sunburst head at the top was hinged.

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