Skip to main content

Double Action Egan Royal Portable Harp: M.7-1941

An image of Harp

Terms of use

These images are provided for non-commercial use under a Creative Commons License (BY-NC-ND). To license a high resolution version, please contact our image library who will discuss fees, terms and waivers.

Download this image

Creative commons explained - what it means, how you can use our's and other people's content.

Alternative views

Object information

Current Location: In storage


Double Action Egan Royal Portable Harp


Maker: Egan, John, harp maker




Small wooden harp with double action mechanism on all strings, painted green and decorated with gold shamrocks

Small wooden harp with thumb operated double action ditals on the inside of the column. Curved soundbox (two layers of wood), bowed pillar, low head (head and shoulder are of the same height), string band, string pegs (eight missing), brass action plate on left (string) side, right action plate is covered by wood veneer, grain runs across the sound board. 31 (G-B) strings, the bottom two are wire wound wire, the rest gut. One tuning pin is missing. Working double action mechanism on all strings, the top five have an upper fork and a lower single prong, the next five have two forks an the remainder have an upper prong and a lower vfork, all the disks are slightly oval. Disks rotate in opposite directions to each other (normal for the period). Knob at base of column and matching one on the top right of the shoulder to hold support strap (not extant). Turn screw and lever at base of soundbox fastened and released a support rod that ran through two metal arches and served to raise the harp to a convenient playing height (rod now missing). Hollow column contains mechanism, operated by seven levers on the inside of the column with screw on ivory thumb tags. The ivory tags have the note names engraved on them and are arranged from the top F, C, G, C, A,(E-ivory missing) B. The C, D, and E ditals are towards the right of the column, the others towards the left. The soundbox has six small sound holes arranged two by two, and there is a metal strengthening plate under the right hand side of the shoulder. This harp has no feet. The entire harp apart from the brass action plate is painted green with gold shamrocks.


History note: J.S. Morley from whom purchased by Mrs Norah Chadwick c. 1936; the Fitzwilliam Museum; lent to the Cambridge University Music School, West Road, 1957; returned to the Fitzwilliam Museum

Legal notes

Given by Mrs N. Chadwick

Place(s) associated

  • Dublin ⪼ Ireland

Acquisition and important dates

Method of acquisition: Given (1941-04) by Chadwick, Norah, K., Mrs


George IV
Circa 1820 CE - 1830 CE


This harp is very rare, only about six were made with the double action ditals, the single action equivalent was considerably more numerous and is well represented in museum collections.

Components of the work

Decoration composed of paint ( green) gold ( or gold-coloured paint)
Frame composed of wood
Two Strings composed of gut
Strings composed of wire
Action Plate composed of brass (alloy)
To Top Of Column Height 90 cm
Sound Board Width 22 cm
Shoulder To Column Width 54 cm

Inscription or legends present

Inscription present: Royal Arms above the inscription

  • Text: J. Egan. 30 Dawson St. Dublin Harpmaker by Special appointment to his most Gracious Majesty George IVth./& the Royal Family./No. 1885
  • Location: On brass action plate near column
  • Method of creation: Engraved
  • Type: Inscription

Inscription present: tie-on card label, with the text above followed by a transcription of some of the inscription

  • Text: Property of Cambridge University Music Faculty/ HA02 ....
  • Method of creation: Hand-written
  • Type: Label

References and bibliographic entries

Identification numbers

Accession number: M.7-1941
Primary reference Number: 77335
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Thursday 9 July 2015 Last processed: Friday 8 December 2023

Associated departments & institutions

Owner or interested party: The Fitzwilliam Museum
Associated department: Applied Arts

Citation for print

This record can be cited in the Harvard Bibliographic style using the text below:

The Fitzwilliam Museum (2024) "Double Action Egan Royal Portable Harp" Web page available at: Accessed: 2024-07-21 20:31:47

Citation for Wikipedia

To cite this record on Wikipedia you can use this code snippet:

{{cite web|url= |title=Double Action Egan Royal Portable Harp |author=The Fitzwilliam Museum|accessdate=2024-07-21 20:31:47|publisher=The University of Cambridge}}

API call for this record

To call these data via our API (remember this needs to be authenticated) you can use this code snippet:

Bootstrap HTML code for reuse

To use this as a simple code embed, copy this string:

<div class="text-center">
    <figure class="figure">
        <img src=""
        alt="Double Action Egan Royal Portable Harp"
        class="img-fluid" />
        <figcaption class="figure-caption text-info">Double Action Egan Royal Portable Harp</figcaption>

Sign up for updates

Updates about future exhibitions and displays, family activities, virtual events & news. You'll be the first to know...