The Marxophone is a 1912 toy instrument that combines a zither with a keyboard linked to flexible hammers that repeatedly strike the strings. The resulting sound, over the years, has earned a strange place in folk music. It's often used to evoke a mysterious carnie atmosphere, but Katherine Rhoda shows here how beautiful it can be.
Named for its inventor, Henry Charles Marx, they were sold new until the 1950s and can be found on eBay for about $300. You've heard it in many popular songs, such as The Doors' cover of Alabama Song (Whiskey Bar) and Portishead's Sour Times.
Marx also created the Celestaphone, a similar instrument with a more refined sound.