CHAPTER 4: Dulcimers in the British Isles since 1800 > 'British' dulcimers 1800-1945

Busker in the street and Quakers at home

Fig. 110 shows a rare photograph of a busker from this time; note that he is plucking with plectrums. The use of the stand in the street suggests a feeling of security from constabulary disturbance, but one wonders why he is facing the wall, and only half turned towards what may be the open door of a public house.

Mr. Sidney Puleston sends a fascinating account of his father's family band of, active in Plymouth until about 1917. Mr. Puleston, Snr., was in his teens at the time, and "hasn't played professionally since he was 14"; he, his brothers and his own father were all multi-instrumentalists banjo, guitar and xylophone are mentioned as well as dulcimer and became an established stage act in the Plymouth area (20). They played only by ear.

Mr. Dennison spoke of the Wilson sisters in Edinburgh, now in their 80s, who played only at home, with two dulcimers, a zither, an autoharp and an English concertina, presumably in about the 1920s; and Ailsa Dumur tells similarly of her aunt, who, as part of a Quaker family with 13 children, living near Canterbury, played hymns on a "hammered zither", with a sister playing the organ (21). This illustration, although it features an autoharp rather than a dulcimer, may serve to give the impression of such a family party.

James Blades remembered as a lad in Peterborough that Dr. Barnado's band came from London and had two or three dulcimers, although since this was in the '30s when Premier were marketing their small glockenspiels under the name 'dulcimer' (22), it's hard to certain whether these were sounding with strings or metal bars.