Rectangular Octave Virginal

Date: ca. 1600

Geography: Possibly Augsburg, Germany

Culture: German

Medium: Ebony, beech, brass, leather, paper, parchment, ivory

Dimensions: Height: 3 9/16 in. (9.1 cm)
Width (parallel to keyboard): 17 3/8 in. (44.1 cm)
Depth (perpendicular to keyboard): 8 9/16 in. (21.8 cm)

Classification: Chordophone-Zither-plucked-virginal

Credit Line: The Crosby Brown Collection of Musical Instruments, 1889

Accession Number: 89.4.1778


An ebony, casketlike virginal in the style of Samuel Biedermann the Elder, probably made in Augsburg about 1600, is decorated with engravings by Hans Sebald Beham and the elder Crispijn van de Passe. A delicate parchment rosette adorns the sound hole. Two shallow drawers, perhaps for sewing equipment, fit into the top of the lid. Sounding several octaves above normal pitch, this virginal was not intended for serious music-making.