CHAPTER 3: History to 1800

3.5 The Baroque, Rococo and Classical Periods 1600-1800

3.5.1 The west

1.2. Higher cultures in the 17th & 18th centuries: Romance language-area

Instruments: Characteristics of 17th & 18thC. salterii and psaltérions

How much information is there?
Makers and places
Changes within the period
Shape and size
Box construction


Makers and places

32 examples were from Italy, 9 from France; occasional instruments from Austria, Germany and the Netherlands appeared to have been used in the higher culture, perhaps influenced from France or Italy.

A number of Italian examples had the maker's labels intact, indicating that they came from a range of northern towns, including Venice, Florence, Brescia, Milan and Triente.

Two examples appear to have had some connection with Spain, but the first is a little puzzling. In the Paris Savoye collection, No. 45 is catalogued as Tympanon espagnol having a label which reads, "Gines Roca fecit, anno 1784": the enigma is that the only other instrument bearing a label from the same maker (Stockholm, no ref.) is labelled as being Italian, and dated 1734, indicating a singular career of 50 years dulcimer making. The second instrument is Brussels 1486, catalogued as being from the Canary Isles, and bearing a Barcelona label, "Josephus Aloina (7) fecit Barcinone 1779"; the living tradition in Mexico living today might conceivably date from this period too.

Although instruments were occasionally dated in earlier times (1514, 1629), the practice was only at all common after the 1720s, and then only in Italy; examples are spread fairly evenly over the period 1730-1780, although there are three from 1745, and two from 1766. Of the ten Italian makers who signed their work, six are represented by a single example:

Three makers have two instruments: Michael Barbi, Venice (1748), Gines Roca (1734, 1784) and Joannes Antonius Berero, Triente (1745), also as Brera, Tridento (also 1745); one maker has three instruments, Antonio Tiago, Rio de Janeiro; while from Antonio Battaglia eight instruments remain (1761-1779), on one of which the form 'Batalia' is used.