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Grand Harmonicon: Celestial Sounds

Francis Hopkinson Smith (1797-1872) patented his version of musical glasses on April 7, 1825, and called it "Grand Harmonicon.

The glasses were blown to pitch and played by rubbing their rims with moistened fingers. The instrument was intended primarily for use by amateur musicians at home rather than in a concert hall.

Once a popular parlor instrument, musical glasses saw a decline around 1860 with rumors that playing the instrument, and the ethereal sounds it produced, caused madness. Many players suffered nervous breakdowns. At the time, it was thought that the vibrations resulted in nervous system decline, but it may be that touching the glasses and their painted rims, both of which contained lead, contributed to lead poisoning over time.

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Date Time : 2012:06:13 14:42:03

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