A significant collection of rare, historic and fine examples of early brasses, woodwinds, strings and keyboards, mostly European and American but with some unusually fine ethnic instruments as well.
"No, sir…I wouldn't think of parting with 'Johnny Reb'. That fiddle is rather unprepossessing in appearance, I will allow, but for tone it can't be beaten. Then, there is some little sentiment involved. How did I get it? Well, it's an interesting story. While we were on the Wabash, one of the boat's crew went over to Morris' Island one night. They ran across a squad of rebels who were having a gay time in camp. The soldiers were playing and singing, telling stories and dancing. Our crew routed them out. There were a few shots exchanged and the rebs finally took to their heels, leaving everything behind. One of the crew singled out this fiddle and brought it back to the Wabash. He knew that I was passionately fond of fiddles, and he gave it to me on the condition that I should play for him on it one hour every night for a week. Of course, I assented and that's how I got it. It is of Italian make, and fully 125 years old [Parker's assumption that the violin was a Stradivari was incorrect], and the tone - well, just listen to that…"
Sometime after the Civil War, Parker opened up his prized violin and wrote on the inside of the back in large capital letters: “THIS VIOLIN WAS CAPTEARD FROM THE REBBLES AT MORRICS IRLAND.S.C. 1863 WITH THE CREW FROM THE FLAGSHIP WABASH” [sic], as well as carving his insignia near the soundpost. At some point he also made a wonderful wooden case for the “Johnny Reb”, decorating it with mother-of-pearl inlays on the top in the shape of roses and acorns, bandings of inlays showing patterns of contrasting woods, and pasted cardboard picture cutouts on the inside of the pocket flaps depicting pretty girls, cows and lions! A brass plaque near the handle reads” “Made by J. Parker 1876” We were told that Parker had intended entering the case in the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia, hence the date – but he missed the entry date and it was ineligible for acceptance! We were also told that it was Parker who sprinkled rose petals on the inside of the case, kept there lovingly by his daughters and all the next owners.