Glass armonica, 1761-1762
Photo by Peter Harholdt, 2004
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Photo by Peter Harholdt, 2004

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Metropolitan Museum of Art, "Benjamin Franklin and his Circle," 1936
"An Image of Benjamin Franklin," University Hospital Antiques Show, 1963
"Benjamin Franklin: In Search of a Better World," Benjamin Franklin Tercentenary traveling exhibition, 2005-2008
Otherwise on ongoing display at the Franklin Institute
Related Publications

."An Image of Benjamin Franklin," Catalogue of the University of Pennsylvania Hospital Antiques Show, 1963. The catalogue does not contain detailed entries for individual objects; however, the armonica is listed among objects in the Loan Exhibit, and visible in a photograph of the installation.

Talbott, Page, ed., Benjamin Franklin: In Search of a Better World (New Haven and London: Yale University, 2005) (companion book to exhibition of same title) Fig. 7.20

Performance on musical glasses was a popular public event in Europe in the middle of the 18th century. To judge by surviving correspondence, Franklin witnessed at least one performence by Edmund Delaval (in the spring of 1761) on a set of the glasses, and began improving on the practice by replacing the glasses placed on a flat surface with a graduated series of bowl-like glasses mounted on a single rod which could be turned by the player or an assistant. Franklin may have owned more than one armonica during his lifetime; and he seems to have revised and improved the instrument.

This armonica was left to Franklin's son-in-law, Richard Bache, in his final will. It descended in the family of Bache's son, William, until being given to The Franklin Institute by Mr. Wistar MacLaren, a descendant. The specific date of the gift does not appear to be recorded in Institute files. It is part of The Franklin Institute's Frankliniana Collection. Terms of Use Credits