George Washington ordered this top-of-the-line, double-manual harpsichord from London for his step-granddaughter, Nelly. It was shipped to Philadelphia in 1793 and then to Mount Vernon in 1797, where it stood in the "Common Parlour" (now called the Little Parlor). Nelly was regularly called upon to entertain family, friends and guests at the instrument. Its veneered case, featuring charming floral inlays above the keyboards, contains a complex plucking mechanism that survives in extraordinarily intact condition. A dazzling range of tonal effects can be produced through the adept use of knobs and pedals, which operate the harpsichord's stops and a Venetian swell.
Bequest of Esther M. Lewis, 1859 [W-16]