Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

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Fall 2003 Newsletter

Et Ceterata

Photograph

The Ransom Center's
épinette des Vosges.

The épinette des Vosges is a French string instrument that takes its name from the Vosges mountain region in northeast France. It shares common features that are found in other European instruments like the Scheitholt, Langeleik, Hummel, and, in America, the Appalachian dulcimer.

Le Val d'Ajol, located in the Lorraine region of the Vosges was (and still is today) a popular spa town. Visitors would frequent the inns to hear the local mountain people sing and play their épinettes. The instrument became very popular among members of high society who purchased épinette as souvenirs. This demand created the ideal environment for professional instrument makers. The best and most famous maker of the épinette was Amant Constant Lambert (1843-1908) who was called Amé. Lambert owned a hotel and made épinettes during the winter. He embellished his instruments with marquetry and he introduced innovations such as mandolin machine pegs and the replacement of brass strings with steel instead.

The Ransom Center owns this épinette made by Lambert as part of the Swante Palm Collection.  

-Darnelle Vanghel


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