Bell cittern

The bell cittern or cithrinchen, as it is known in Germany, was a smaller version of the cittern, a popular instrument associated with taverns and barbers' shops, and it enjoyed a vogue from about 1650 until 1720. It was either strummed with a plectrum or played with fingers like a baroque guitar, the latter practice being widespread in Holland. This instrument bears the signature of Joachim Thielke of Hamburg (1641-1719), perhaps the greatest luthier from Germany of his day, and was probably made in about 1700 (the date '1539' was added by a different person and probably at a later date). It is lavishly inlaid with tortoiseshell and ivory 'Laub und Bandelwerk' (leaf and band-work), a form of decoration very much associated with Thielke.