"Arthur Ferris' Giant Harp Violin"
Arthur K. Ferris was born in 1872 in Wisconsin and died sometime after 1940. Most of his adult life he worked as a landscape gardener in New Jersey. Starting sometime around 1924 and continuing through his remaining years, he conceived and built an extraordinary family of string instruments. There were large, many-necked fiddles, and smaller fiddles with harp necks rising above. There were small violins that fit, for transport and storage, in the body of a larger “suitcase viol.” There were courting instruments, like the “bridal lap harp,” combining harp-like strings and bowed strings into a single instrument to be played together by a man and woman.

Ferris was entirely self-taught in both music and woodwork. He was devoutly religious, covering the insides of his instruments with theological and philosophical symbols.