Re: Dating Harmonicas

Tim wrote:

>There have been only two significant cosmetic changes to the Marine Band since 
>it was introduced in 1897 in the US. The first was switching from the two 
>tabbed ("mickey mouse ear") covers around 1920-something, 

Also, the earliest ones had the patent date engraved on the upper.
This was later dropped.

>and the second was 
>the removal of the six-pointed Star of David from the bottom cover in the mid-

The actual style of the trademark design varied quite over the years
before they removed it completely.

>There have been a number of other subtle changes -- from 3/4 to 3/3 
>top/bottom nail pattern, 

The nail pattern has changed at least three times over the years, plus
the number of larger holes at the ends of the reedplates has changed
from three to two. In the 1990s, they started stamping the reedplates
with a production code.

>flattening of the rivet heads, 

I've seen at least three different types of rivet heads used on Marine
Bands. Maybe four. Also there have been several changes in reed
materials (hard to spot just by looking, especially if the harp has
discoloured with age) and reed profile (easiest to spot by looking at
the weights on the tips of the lower reeds). Also some harps made in
the 80s have the corners of the reeds clipped slightly. Reed lengths
and widths have remained constant, however.

>addition of new "prize" 
>seals on the bottom cover, the switch from nickel to chrome plating on the 

The thickness of the covers and the way they open at the back has also
changed, although the cover design seems to have been reasonably
settled over the last few decades. The comb material has also been
changed from peach wood to pear wood (not sure I could really tell
just by looking). There are probably some other things that I've left

>-- but besides this, more changes have come to the box than the harp 
>inside it. 

Agreed - although if you are shopping on eBay, you need to remember
that harps often do not come in their original boxes.

All in all, somebody could write a book on how to date MBs from all
these things, but not me - at least, not this week...

 -- Pat.

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