Clavecin de Jacques Germain, Paris, 1785

Painted on the soundboard: 1785

This harpsichord features the standard late-18th-century French disposition: two manuals with compass FF to f3; lower manual with quilled 8′, a peau de buffle 8′ (plucking the same set of strings as the quilled 8′), and 4′; upper manual with 8′; buff to the upper 8′; and shove coupler. Presumably, the registers were originally controlled by genouillères (knee pommels). 

The keyboard naturals are made of ebony, while the sharps consist of hardwood stained black and covered with bone slips. 

Although the instrument was unsympathetically rebuilt in the early 1950s, these alterations were reversed by Hugh Gough, from whom the NMM acquired the instrument in 1983. The soundboard, with its beautiful original decorative painting, is in an excellent state of preservation, as are the keyboards and the major components of the case. The Louis XV-style case is original, while the painted decoration on the case exterior and interior of the lid is an early-twentieth-century “enhancement.” Most importantly, the instrument retains the superb, refined tone that is so characteristic of the 18th-century French harpsichord.

 National Music Museum – The University of South Dakota : NMM 3327.(Rawlins fund, 1983)