A coworker gave me a gift yesterday! She brought me an old zither that had been sitting in her house collecting dust. I was so touched by the genuine kindness and that she just inherently knew how much I would appreciate a gift of its sort. You could see that the zither was old and there was damage, so I did the only thing I knew what to do with it. I brought it to the good people at the Folk Shop, a local Tucson music store that specializes in acoustic instruments. I’ve shopped there many times over the years, and I knew the owner would be the right person to get input from.
I was correct. He took one look at it and gave me a whole history. He guesstimated that the instrument was 100-years-old. It is made by a company called Chartola out of New Jersey that no longer exists. Unfortunately, it is not worth fixing. It would cost about $100 to get it functioning, and it is probably worth about $25. He said that even if I did put the money into it, it most likely would have trouble keeping a tune. So disappointing! It is such a pretty instrument. Check out this cleaned up picture I found of a Chartola zither on-line from a website called fretlesszither.com.
He suggested that I spray Windex on a paint brush to dust the instrument off and get in between the strings and hang it on a wall just to appreciate its pure antique-y loveliness. Most likely, I will do just that. I am so grateful to my sweet coworker for understanding just how much I would love an old and unusual instrument like this one. It was so amazingly kind of her to think of me!
The most famous zither song comes from a 1949 pulp fiction movie called “The Third Man.” Anton Karas wrote the composition, which topped the international music charts in the 1950’s. Of course, this song needs to be my song of the day. Click HERE to go to Youtube to see and hear the opening credits of “The Third Man” and to enjoy a little zither music.
My zither, functioning or not functioning, is a treasure to me, as it fills my home with a little bit of music history, and that seriously brings a big smile to this music gal’s face!