The free reed instrument is believed to have its origin in Asia and that it came to the West during the 18th century. As a simple instrument it achieved some popularity towards the end of the 19th century and was quite successful as a toy at the beginning of the 20st century.
This instrument here is much earlier than other known instruments of its kind. The Honerette, manufactured by instrument maker M. Hohner in Germany, was offered in different sizes, the smallest one had the same configuration as the instrument offered here; 10 keys and two bass/chord keys. The overall lenght of the instrument is 10 inches.
The keys are made of ivory and the instrument looks like it dates to the first half of the 19th century!
The instrument is in remarkable condition considering its age. One key-top is missing (see picture #8), and a piece of the wood enclosure is missing (see picture #5, and #9). I'm no expert in wood and can not tell what kind of wood was used to craft this early instrument.
I found a very comprehensive website about the history of Reed Instruments, to visit the site, click here!
Inventory Number 09156;