Dital harp, pine, Edward Light, London, about 1818

A photograph of a Dital Harp.

The dital harp is essentially a cross between a harp and a guitar. They were fashionable for a short period after the instrument was patented in 1816. This type of plucked instrument was preferred by ladies of the day, as it was thought it looked more elegant than bowing a violin or blowing a flute.

A 'dital' is a flat button which, when pressed, raises the pitch of the note being played. Fourteen of the nineteen strings on this harp have dital buttons. The designer also invented several other types of novelty instrument - the harp-guitar; the harp-lute and the harp-lyre, all of which were played like a guitar, despite their names.

Purchased, 1967.