Earliest electric harpsichord?

This was a new one for me: an electric harpsichord from 1938! Rather predating the Baldwin. Anyone else heard of harpsichords, electric or otherwise, by the Frank Holton Company?

(auction is not for an actual instrument unfortunately, just a magazine clipping)

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Cripes. How depressing. An error of judgment, that naturally failed. They should have stuck to their fine brass instruments (well, they did).

Why did 20th century people think they were superior to three hundred years of fine craftsmanship, understanding, and knowledge and try to ‘improve’ the harpsichord? It’s a type of deafness and blindness. Ignorance of history, music, and examples I suppose.

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Unless you have a museum for curiosities — forget about it.

Well, let me just advocate for the opposing view here. Electric harpsichord sounds like a potentially interesting new field of sonic possibilities to me. Not for playing traditional Baroque music, of course. But consider the fertile new realms of sound that were opened up when the guitar was electrified. It didn’t supplant or “improve upon” the acoustic guitar, it simply created new sonic opportunities and genres which had never been heard before.
The harpsichord is in many ways, a perfect generator of harmonics, like the oscillators in a subtractive synthesizer. Why not take this rich signal source, and make it available for arbitrary electronic processing, and just see what kinds of new sounds ingenious experimenters can create.
In particular, while in the past entirely new harpsichords have been designed and built, expressly to be electrified, I am more interested in a pickup which can be temporarily installed in an existing harpsichord design. As such, it would not need to “detract” from the suitability of the harpsichord for traditional uses; it would simply extend the capabilities into new regions. Can there really be an argument against this? (Other than “I’d never personally use such a thing”.)
Food for thought. OK, fire away!
–Benjamin

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