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ram's-head harps

  • Jessica
    Jessica Wolff

    Just to clarify--the term appears to be used both for the single-action Erard I have, and other contemporaneous harps, where the capitol (?) is surrounded by several ram's heads; and for scroll-headed harps that have the general shape of a ram's head but do not necessarily depict one. Is that right? If so, I wish people would just say scroll-headed, which is less confusing.

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    replies to "ram's-head harps"
    • Barbara
      Barbara Brundage

      nd for scroll-headed harps that have the general shape of a ram's head but do not necessarily depict one


      No. A ram's head harp has a decoration of rams' heads on it. A harp with a scroll is not at all the same thing (at least not in general parlance--there are a couple of folks here who seem to use the term that way, but nobody in the rest of the harp/antique world would understand the term to include scrolltops).

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    • Deb
      Deb L

      hi Jessica, sounds like I have been using the term inaccurately, thanks for pointing that out. 

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    • Jessica
      Jessica Wolff

      Thanks, both!

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    • Patricia
      Patricia Jaeger

      Stylized acanthus leaf wreaths and scrolls were used on not only harps but also fine furniture for centuries.

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    • Jessica
      Jessica Wolff

      Apparently Pratt Harps also uses the term to include scroll-tops. Perhaps they started this usage.

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    • Karen
      Karen S

      I think you got it right. The term "ram's head" is used in wood working and means when something has a rounded shape to it----like the curled horns of a big horn sheep/ram. The Pratt Chamber Harp does have a "ram's head" and yes, the capital plates are on either side of it. John Pratt does use the term "ram's head" to describe the shape but uses the " " when he does.

      Scrolled head would not really be accurate for his harps because it does not "scroll" and the wood is not carved as if it were a scroll.

      Hope this helps.

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    • Jessica
      Jessica Wolff

      Yes, it does.

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    • Deb
      Deb L

      so does that mean the Pratt Dauphine is a scroll top because of the applied carvings of leaves and flowers?

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    • Barbara
      Barbara Brundage

      The Dauphine doesn't have an actual scroll, but it was intended to give the impression of one of the old scroll tops in the way the ornament was applied.


      Ditto with the Bryan Marie Antoinette: it's not really a scroll, just applied stuff over the usual beak, but both harps are meant to look like scroll top harps.


      Webster's Madame Cadillac (hate that name) is an actual rams head harp as the harp world in general understands the term.


      If you can find a copy of Gildas Jaffrenou's book "Folk Harps" (older, out of print a long time now, I think) he has a good discussion of volutes (scrolls) and how to create them.

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    • Barbara
      Barbara Brundage

      Sorry, I meant the Webster 18th Century, obviously, not the Madame Cadillac.

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    • Deb
      Deb L

      I think you do mean Madame Cadilac?

      http://home.comcast.net/~websterstrings/madame_cadillac.html

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    • Barbara
      Barbara Brundage

      No, that is a scroll top. The 18th Century is a rams head harp:








      They're small, but they're there.

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    • Barbara
      Barbara Brundage

      Here's a classic ramshead harp from Howard Bryan (click capital photo for larger image:


      http://www.hbryan.com/available/dodd.html

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    • Deb
      Deb L

      I thought the rams heads were shaped french style like the scroll tops, thanks for explaining, very confusing.

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    • Deb
      Deb L

      so now am I using the term French Style wrong?  LOL..  maybe I should probably have quit while I was ahead (if only).

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    • Barbara
      Barbara Brundage

      Don't understand. Both ramshead harps and scroll tops were French designs, although both styles were used by German, English, and other nationalities at the time as well. But at that period, France was the style leader for most things in Europe.

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    • Deb
      Deb L

      the Capital, on Pratt harps they have an oval rather than a column shaped piece.  I guess I was referring to that first as rams head, then as french style, is there a name for this different shape?

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    • Deb
      Deb L

      Madame Cadilac also has this oval shaped Capital, that is a french style right?  but does it have a name?

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    • Barbara
      Barbara Brundage

      Look at the capital on Howard's harp again. It's called a ramshead harp because it has little sheep's heads around the top.

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    • Barbara
      Barbara Brundage

      The madame cadillac is a scroll top style harp. I don't in the least understand what you mean by 'French style.'

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