These things are incredible. They look like something youâ€™d order from an eccentric luthier, only available from a difficult-to-navigate website, perhaps featuring autoplaying background music that starts suddenly and makes you jump, with barely relevant animated GIFs distributed haphazardly around the page, but they were actually made around the turn of last century.
Theyâ€™re modified violins, with attached amplifying horns. Apparently there are even cello-sized instruments available as well, but I didnâ€™t see any on display today.
Absolutely wonderous looking machines â€“ there are videos on the web of people playing various examples, unfortunately the sound is much less special (to my ears, in any case) than the appearance.
Photos taken at an exhibition of the Castle Colllection of antique, rare, and unusual instruments, currently on display at the Auckland War Memorial Museum.