It is clear that the spitzharfe was considered by the 18th century writers to be related not to harpsichords, nor to dulcimers and psalteries, but to harps. I assume this is because of the way it was played, and perhaps the repertory played on it. Nowadays we would disagree, and, based on its construction and set-up, we would categorise the spitzharfe as a kind of psaltery or dulcimer, having no organological relationship to harps.
There is a closely related type of instrument in use in Germany slightly earlier, known in German as Doppelharfe (double-harp). This is basically set up similarly to a spitzharfe, with a rank of strings on each side of a soundbox, but it tends to be triangular in shape with the point at the bottom, more like a true harp, and to have the tuning pins mounted along the top instead of along the bottom. The strings are usually of gut and may have bray pins. There is a famous illustration printed by Michael Praetorious in Syntagma Musicum in 1620 (reproduced right), showing both sides of a ‘Groß Doppel Harff’. Similar instruments are preserved in museums, e.g. Museum für Musikinstrumente, Leipzig, 384 and Hessisches Landesmuseum, Darmstadt, Kg67:114.
Simon Chadwick, St Andrews, Scotland.