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Legacies: Collecting America's History at the Smithsonian, by Steven Lubar and Kathleen M. Kendrick
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Cittern made by John Preston, London, England, about 1770Cittern made by John Preston, London, England, about 1770

A metal-stringed instrument akin to the lute, the cittern is played by plucking the strings with a plectrum. Popular in Europe during the Renaissance, it was revived as the "English guitar" in the mid-eighteenth century. In 1896, when this cittern was acquired, the National Museum was collecting objects from around the world to illustrate the cultural evolution of the human race. For its synoptic series of musical instruments, which emphasized technological development, the instruments were classified according to how they were played and the type of sound they produced.

See also: Musical Instruments

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