I couldn't do any better than to link you to the good information that's already out there regarding autoharps. There's an active community of really great people who work hard and have taken the autoharp to places undreamed of by its inventor.
I should add that folks often think that the guitar-zither is a forerunner of the autoharp. It probably seems that way because the autoharp survived and flourished and the guitar-zither didn't. But in reality, I believe that both instruments appeared as attempts to add flexibility to the simple psaltery architecture. In the US, at least, the earliest autoharp patents were issued before the first guitar-zither patent. And in fact, autoharps were already being manufactured and sold before the guitar-zither patent was granted.
I'd just like to take this chance to recommend Becky Blackley's "The Autoharp Book." She did fantastic research and produced an invaluable guide to historic autoharps. There's also information about the Phonoharp Company and the Oscar Schmidt companies. I keep in the back of my mind a wish to some day create that book's equivalent for guitar-zithers.
The Cyberpluckers' Home Page
The Autoharp Quarterly
Drop me a line.
Go back to the Guitar-Zither Clearinghouse, or home.
This page was banged out with Word 97, 11 Oct 98.