• NCR Regional Archeology Program

    NCR Regional Archeology Program


Themes in Time

Playthings of the Past — Harmonicas


Harmonicas, from Harpers Ferry.

Harmonicas are cheap, portable musical instruments that can be played almost anywhere. While there are professional harmonica players, this instrument has chiefly been thought of as a child's toy or an amateur's pastime instrument. The harmonica, produced first by Friedrich Buschmann of Berlin in 1821, consists of a metal reed plate set in a wooden frame. This wooden support usually deteriorates underground, though the metal plate often survives. These examples were made of cupric alloy, probably brass, and are shown in varying states of decay. These harmonica parts were recovered from the backyard of a row-house complex excavated in Harpers Ferry National Historical Park.

Return to Playthings