Remember the “Tin Harp” entry some time ago? Out of the blue, the cousin of the man who built this harp found my site on the Internet and began corresponding about it. I referred her information to Pam, the owner of the harp, and here is the information they exchanged which we were so desparately seeking. This, I must tell you, is an all-text entry, but most interesting! A special thanks to Catherine Biggs for referring us to her cousin and harp builder, Earl Thompson. (I’m sorry it took me so long to get this all posted. I think you will find Earl’s history of the Linrud harps most enlightening. As it turns out, it is NOT a “tin” harp, but rather a fiberglass instrument!)
Catherine (Linrud) Biggs Says:
November 4th, 2006 at 11:58 am
Well I can tell you who made the harp!! My cousin Earl Thompson. He comes from a long line of instrument makers and musicians. His grandfather was a harp builder and his mother a harpist who even played for the Eisenhowers. His father made violins. I grew up playing this exact model plus a smaller lap version. Email me if you want his current contact information.
I was so excited to receive the forwarded copy of your email to Lee. I am the owner of the Linrud harp that he featured on his web page. I bought it in a yard sale in Fairfax, PA about 5 years ago. It needed a little repair work as a crack had formed where the arm and column meet, so we fixed that, Lee helped me re-string and clean it, and now I am taking lessons to learn how to play. I just adore this lovely little instrument. It has amazing sound and it so easy to play. But I have so many questions about it. If you would not mind sharing some contact information for your cousin, I would be so grateful. If he would prefer, you can give him my contact info.
Again, thank you so much for responding to Lee’s posting.
Pamela (Last name deleted)
My cousin Earl Thompson can be reached at the following email addy: (deleted for privacy).He currently lives outside of Adams, Oregon. I will forward this email to him as well.
I am glad you like the harp. I really loved playing when I was a kid and learned to appreciate the remarkable workmanship that went into making these instruments after playing a number of other designs. Like I said, there is a very interesting history of this harp and our family. He is not in the best of health so if you don’t get much from him feel free to call or email me.
I received two emails today from Earl Thompson. One came in response to my letter to Catherine, which she forwarded to him. The second in response to my letter that he received an hour later. I included a picture of the harp that you had taken to be sure he would recognize the instrument.
Here are the letters:
It’s good to hear from someone that has one of my harps. For some years, we lived in Clarksville and near the Triadelphia resevour out between Washington D.C. and Baltimore. I have made over 1200 of that model harp and near 1400 of the smaller one. That harp you have was made while we lived in Riverside California between 1975 and 1979. We moved up here to Oregon in 1979. I have not finished a harp since about 6 years ago. I am 79 myself now and almost 4 years ago I had bypass surgery and have not had any energy to do any work since. I have a nice shop building here I built myself and I wanted to build some larger, full size harps. But that never did take place. My Grandfather Linurd made 6 large full size harps. I wish I had one of them. Last I knew, there was one in Brooklyn New York. But I do not know who it belongs to now. I did have a lot of problems with the wood over the years. I have rebuilt several harps like yours. One fell out of a car? I do not know how that ahppened, but it was fixed while there in Clarksville. One of my smaller harps is in a 1982 movie, The Tempist. It was made while we lved in Riverside. One day in 1977 A woman went in to the Lyon & Healy harp salon in Hollywood and asked about a small harp. Mr Woldridge that was tne manager of that store for Lyon & Healy, told the woman about me. She calld and the next day came out to Riverside 60 miles and bought one of my smaller model harps and 3 years later someone told mur daughter that one of my harps was in that Hollywood movie. I have a copy of that movie and it is not available any more. It’s kind of a dumb movie and I was lucky to get a copy of it on the internet. Well, you said you had some questions about the harp. You are welcome to write to this address and ask the questions. But I really do not feel like doing any repair work right now. I have my mothers 85 year old Lyon & Healy model 23 harp here and it needs work too. But I will be glad to answer any questions you have. And I do have a lot of parts. If you would rather write by snail mail. My address is (deleted for privacy purposes….)
Your e-mail message just arrived, after I sent one to you. It is interesting to hear about the harp. As I said my my message to you just a while ago. The metal sound box, is not metal. The one piece fibreglas body was made for me in Cleveland for a while by a man that made fibreglas things for the governemnt. I made the bodys myself for some years. I started this work in 1954 after my mother had visited Melville Clark in Saricuse New York. He wanted to make an all fibreglass harp and made several. I have one of the first ones. The harps I made were made with hard maple wood, mostly from upper Pensylvania, and New York State. I tried several out of Western maple, and it is much to soft. That harp has a total tension on the strings of over 1200 pounds. So the harp has to be strong. Harpo Marx ask for and I sent him one of my first harps in 1956. He sent me pictures of him playing one and he died in 1978 I think it was, a year before we moved west. I didn’t get to meet him. He lived out in Cathedral City near Palm Springs and I wish I could have met him. He liked my harps. My mother was the one that promoted me makeing harps. I myself played the harp from my age of 6, until I was, well, about 8 years ago and I am 79 now. I have played in 6 different orchestras over the years. I have not touched a harp string now is 6 or 8 years. I just don’t feel like it. I had trouble selling an all fibreglass body harp for some years and was just starting to sell them well, while in Riverside. Orders were comeing in faster then I could make them. But I was tired of small harps and had some good ideas for a full size all fibreglass harp. Fibreglass is the best thing about my harps. How many wood bridges do you see now days? Wood is nothing but trouble. I spent a year here building a shop building, then things fell apart here and the fulll size harps never did get started. Now I am too old for it. And the money has run out. I used to know a lady in Seattle that bought over 175 of my harps. She could teach you, and did, over 100 and more people to play any tune on the harp and make money at it. She had one student Lloyd Lindroth, ops. I don’t know how to spell his first name. Anyway, he was in the navy band in Washington and in 1984 I think it was, was playing in Los Vagas Nevada and makeing over $150,000. a year. Edith was something. At one time she taught a 16 year old girl how to play a large harp and the girl went on to Hawaii and make $1200 a week playing in the restaurant in a hotel in the evening. $1200 a week and room and board in a hotel at 16 is not bad for a young girl. Edith was a good harp player. She could play anything Bach to boogie. And she could start on Bach and be playing boogie before you could realize it. She lived on North 50th in Seattle west of I-5 and always had a harp in her front window. She played in hundreds of weddings in the Seattle area. She died in 197??? Ops, I don’t remember. She was a fun to know woman. She owned over 300 harps in the Seattle area and rented out many of them. Time passes on! ! ! ! Best Regards, Earl T.