Re: [Harp-L] anybody identify this harp?

Thanks for the insight. The text "Made in Western Germany" (in all caps) is stamped on the bottom cover, but I can't find any other makers marks. I'll take the covers off again and see if there's anything stamped inside. I'm not seeing stylized hammer and sickles myself, but maybe I just need to squint more. Thanks also for the tip on the Deutsches Harmonikamuseum. I'll drop them a line and post back if I hear anything interesting. Chances are I have a nice-looking but otherwise valueless heirloom. That's OK, too.


David Payne wrote:
I assume "made in Western Germany" does not appear anywhere on the harmonica itself? Just the box? Everything I am about to say is based purely on my deduction, I have Sherlock Holmesified this, but I know none of this as fact, because your harmonica has nothing I can see in a pic to identify it, OK?

First thought, the guy who made this didn't want anybody to know who he was, it could big a bigger company clandestinely dwelving into El Cheapo territory, kind of like Hohner did with Peter Polz, who polzed a peck of pickled peppers, but I don't think so, specifically because it looks so Soviet-bloc. I see figurative hammers and sickles in the design. What isn't so clear to the average Joe is the number of harmonica companies that continued to exist after World War II. There were quite a few. Hohner had cleaned up in the West, but in the East, you still had a lot of guys. You had big East German players like Seydel operating as the state-owned Vermona, or various other names it had at times. But you also had Hugo Stark, Max Spranger, A.A. Schlott, Hugo Rauner and others that survived the war in East Germany. Some of these guys were nationalized right away. Some weren't. Some were partially nationalized. Let's say you're somebody like A.A. Schlott... you're still technically private industry operating in a communist state. The communist party says "we need 5,000 left-handed smokeshifters by Jan. 1." You say, "I'm a harmonica maker.I'm not equipped to do this. I need the tooling and I need x amount of smokeshifter steel, I also need 20 workers."You sit around waiting for your smokeshifter tooling, workers and steel. It never arrives. So, months roll by, long about December, somebody with the party strolls in and says "how are you coming along on our glorious state left-handed smokeshifters." You say "hey, um... I never got the tooling. I never got the smokeshifter steel and I never got the workers." He says "Where's my left-hand smokeshifters?"
You repeat yourself. "The state is not interested in your petty problems. We want our smokeshifters. You will produce these smokeshifters by Jan. 1 as ordered." "But I never..." He interupts.... "Your daughter is very pretty. It would be a tragic should she grow up without a father at home." What do you do? You get your family the hell of out Dodge if you can. And that's pretty much what happened to a lot of these folks, they escaped, or tried to escape to the West. Their harp tooling gets left behind and maybe somebody else will get the tooling they need to make the state's harps. The A.A. Schlott family, for instance, fled in Klingenthal in the 1970s under similar circumstances. There were others. Most were unable to restart in the West, cause they were broke.

My best guess is this was made by somebody who left East Germany and managed to sneak either harps or parts to make some with them. I doubt they could have got the tooling out.

But it doesn't have to be Germany, it could have been Czechoslavakia or someplace else. There were still harp makers outside of Germany within the Soviet Bloc.

So what you have is an interesting juxtaposition. I'd hang on to it. Write Martin Haffner at the Deutsches Harmonica museum about it. He may know something about this one in particular.

Dave Payne Sr. Elk River Harmonicas

----- Original Message ---- From: Seth Galitzer <sethgali@xxxxxxxxx> To: Harp-l <harp-l@xxxxxxxxxx> Sent: Thursday, November 6, 2008 12:03:54 AM Subject: [Harp-L] anybody identify this harp?

Please have a look at the pics I took this evening:

I got this 10-hole chromatic in a box of stuff from my brother a few
years ago.  It could have belonged to my grandfather who passed away
about 13 yrs ago.  It feels nice and heavy.  Chrome or nickel plating
is good all over.  The outside was pretty dirty when I got it, and the
action on the button was pretty bad.  I took apart the button and
cleaned it with steel wool so it moves freely now.  The spring still
seems in good shape.  I also cleaned up the mouthpiece and covers with
steel wool.  Comb is wood and in good shape, no visible cracks, though
the finish is starting to crackle on the back.  The button and
reedplates are brass.  The reed flaps are intact and I think made of
leather.  Reed plates are in good shape, but badly out of tune.  Cover
plates are also in good shape, as you can see from the pictures.  I've
taken the covers off, but not the reedplates so don't know what the
inside of the comb looks like.

There are no distinguishing marks to identify the manufacturer that I
can see.  Embossed logo on top and bottom reads "Chromatic".  Stamp on
the bottom plate and label inside the box top reads "Made in Western
Germany".  It's in what I assume is the original cardboard box which
is pretty badly beat up.  Admittedly, the pictures didn't come out as
clear as I would have liked, but it should give you a good idea of
what I've got.

Really, I'm just curious.  I'd love to hear if anybody knows anything
about this harp.  Even if it's just a generic cheapo, I'd like to know
more about it.  If it's worth it, someday I may have it restored and
even learn to play it.


The beatings will continue until morale has improved.

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