Second Tranche

1976 – 1985

The timing of Page’s invention (coinciding as it does with the onset of the Great War) marks the end of this period of keyboard innovation on the autoharp) and also perhaps, the end of the Victorian fascination with the mechanical, within culture. No further reverse action autoharp patents appear to have been filed until 1976. This period follows a revival of interest in the autoharp as a folk instrument in the 1960s and in the UK, concerted advertising campaigns in the 1970s that attested to the ease of learning when compared to other musical instruments. For a time in the 1970s autoharps were relatively common household items in the UK, with many acquired by families as presents for children. This campaign contributed to defining the autoharp in the mind of a generation in the UK as part instrument, part toy and part education device; a niche occupied concurrently by the melodica and subsequently taken over by electronic keyboards.

In America the picture was different. Respected folk traditions were the foundation of autoharp usage, the instrument gained a large following, and technique became rich and varied. It is no real surprise then that two of the final three patents are American, and the third (perhaps more surprisingly) originates from France.