Skip to main content

Vassar

  • Ask a Librarian
  • FAQ

Please note: the navigation above represents our new site structure and may not work yet. As we complete our new sites, the navigation will be more robust. Thank you for your patience!

Sewing-cabinet Piano (Austria?, ca. 1830)

Sewing-cabinet Piano (Austria?, ca. 1830)

This charming rosewood sewing box and dressing case, cleaned and repaired in 1989, incorporates a high-pitched piano with four octaves of tiny keys. Probably made in Austria about 1830, it was imported and sold in Philadelphia by Sarah Hart & Son, proprietors of a furniture and `fancy' store. A shallow tray above the diagonal strings holds spools for thread and compartments for sewing materials; another removable tray rests above the keys, and a looking glass hinges inside the lid, which is inlaid on top with foliate scrollwork and musical instruments. A knee lever beneath the box raises the piano's dampers. The unusual pedestal design perhaps simulates bamboo. Pianos like this, meant for boudoirs, were playthings of girls in wealthy families.

Image of Sewing-cabinet Piano (Austria?, ca. 1830)