S. Nathaniel Adams

Documenting history as well as my experiences with repairing and restoring vintage guitars.

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  US Patent 416,057 Image from the US Patent Database Ray Gill and Frank A Kilber patented this unique capo for the banjo in 1889 Ad in The ...

 

US Patent 416,057
Image from the US Patent Database

Ray Gill and Frank A Kilber patented this unique capo for the banjo in 1889


Ad in The Cadenza Volume 4 c.1897
Image Credit: New York Public Library Digital Collections















These are the serial numbers of all the guitars (and a few unique instruments) produced by the Schwarzer company. I’d love to actually find ...

These are the serial numbers of all the guitars (and a few unique instruments) produced by the Schwarzer company. I’d love to actually find one


 Possibly dealers, worth researching

  • Theodore Lohr
  • Fred Ehehalt
  • Charles E Grohe
  • Hubbard Brothers
  • George P Garcelon
  • Henn and Haynes

The school sisters of Notre dame ordered a lot of guitars as well

  • 10704 Erik Du Rietz - Guitar #604
  • 10699 Mische Lawrence Lawyrence?. Ordered by Louis Kopcovitz
  • 10672 D. O. Wilkie Guitar Grand Concert
  • 10666  Otto Krog Kyog? 
  • 10658 Max Lehman 
  • 10649 Fred Ehehalt (this dude ordered a lot of stuff)
  • (1922) 10600 Augustus Ottowitz (this guy also ordered a few things)
  • 10584 Theo. Schuermann
  • 10568 Mrs Minnie Flick 
  • 10461 J. B. Baw (S. HeroKing) 
  • 10377 R. B? Hagemau
  • 10343 F Shipporeit Schipporeit?
  • 10315 Phil C Harding - Harp guitar #506
  • (1915) 10232 Oscar Knecht 
  • 10152 Frank Pakin
  • 9980 Jan Kujana
  • 9936 Stacey E (via Lohr) - harp guitar
  • 9903 Althmueller Bros (already been found and written about in an article)
  • (1911) 90865 L. J. W Jones
  • 9825 J. F. Schaefer
  • 9800 Mrs Ramm-Haeckn
  • 9768 Sommenberg & Meyer
  • 9701 C or P E Grohe 
  • 9650 Ant Fischerner - Harp guitar
  • (1908) 9548 Jul Rother 
  • 9506 Mrs F. G. Ramm
  • 9348 C E Grohe - Harp guitar
  • 9338 Ray and Dillworth
  • 9254 C E Grohe
  • 9098 Will Wilberger - "special mandolin"
  • 9039 Ray and Dillworth 
  • 9034 C Hausdorf
  • 9029 Henry Spaunhorst - 12 string guitar!!!
  • 9010 F Linstromberg 
  • 9005 S. K Woods
  • 8782 A L Ludwig
  • (1904) 8771 B F Krueger
  • 8694 G P Garcelon 
  • 8679 Herm and Haynes
  • 8627 Geo W Boblett
  • 8624 Joseph Meyer
  • 8558 Hy (Henry?) Gaulin
  • (1902) 8404 Harry E Woods
  • 8341 W M Guese
  • 8302 Charles S Senus Senis?
  • 8212 Miss A Gamerdinger
  • 8196 Schulz
  • 8016 W C Raw - double bottom guitar
  • 7969 Miss M Neuwiller - special zither guitar
  • 7861 Henn and Haynes
  • 7809 through 7812 Henn and Haynes
  • (1899) 7719 August Wehmueller
  • 7609 F? W? Woodward
  • 7577 Forney Mercantile Company
  • 7574 Henn and Haynes (Rosewood)
  • 7530 H E Hubbell
  • 7461 Dr J J Fowler 
  • 7140 F Bonnet
  • (1897) Fr (Father?) M Becilia
  • 7012 George P Garcelon
  • 6882 G Muder - "Fine mandolin aluminum fluted ribs"
  • 6862 through 6862 Howard Farnwell and Co
  • 6782 Henn and Haynes
  • 6783 Mc Ehvain Bros
  • 6742 Mrs V F Hines



Edwin J Cubley Image Credit:  FindAGrave.com About Edwin Cubley was born to Joseph Cubley of England and Sarah Ann Bugger of New York on Oct...

Edwin J Cubley
Image Credit: FindAGrave.com


About

Edwin Cubley was born to Joseph Cubley of England and Sarah Ann Bugger of New York on October 17th 1838 in Burlington, Vermont. His father died when he was three leaving his mother to raise him alone. At his time of death on September 7th, 1924 he was listed as being a manufacturer of musical instruments and married to Deilia Cubley. 

They apparently married in the 1860s but likely separated as in 1906 a member of the Russian royal family filed for divorce upon returning to the US and finding out that Edwin was not a multimillionaire but instead had "a trifling $50,000" to his name [7]. She was 26 and he was 66 years old. This was far too fascinating not to write down.

The Larson brothers are noted by Robert Hartman as having worked for Edwin Cubley upon first arriving in the United States.

The 2013 book, Hidden History of Ravenswood and Lake View, quotes Byron Jones, a surviving member of the anti-saloon drum corps, on Cubley. Byron mentions that Edwin owned a factory that made drums and other musical instruments and visited a local ice cream parlor every afternoon to buy soda for some of the drum corps members [10].


Undated photo of Edwin J Cubley and family
Image Credit:Chicago Public Library Ravenswood Collection 


Timeline

  • 1871 - First factory burns down
  • 1877 - Edwin files for bankruptcy (factory located at 57 Washington St) [5]
  • 1877 - The Lakeside Annual Directory of Chicago lists Edwin as a "machinist" [13]
  • 1881 - Second factory (corner of Ashland and Sunnyside) of E. J. Cubley & Co burns down [11]
    • Noted as making drums, tamborines, and other musical instruments
  • 1886 - Twenty-five men from Lyon & Healy attempted to get the employees of Cubley to strike [12]
  • 1887 - Edwin is listed as being a "dealer in musical instruments" [8]
  • 1893 - The third factory is destroyed by fire [14]
  • 1893 - Incorporation of the Central Music Company in Ravenswood, Chicago, Illinois
    • Incorporated by Edwin J. Cubley, Andrew P. Olson, Charley Larsen, and George Van Zandt [4]
    • They manufactured musical instruments
  • 1897 - Building permits were issued to built two 2-story frame flats at 2706-2708 North Lincoln Street [9]
    • Likely a personal property or an investment and not a factory location
  • 1913 - Edwin's mother dies, his occupation is listed as "retired manufacturer" [6]

Brief obituary in the Music Trade Review


Inlaid Geared Tuners

On December 10th, 1889, Cubley patented his own set of tuning machines that fit into a slot cut into a solid headstock and had decorative metal players that wrapped around and also secured the parts of the tuning machines. 

Patent 416715
Image from the US Patent office

Friction Pegs

These are friction pegs patented by Lars Larsen Filstrup and George Van Zandt. According to the patent specifications, Lars was a citizen of Denmark residing in Ravenswood in Chicago and George was a Chicago native. 

An 1893 suit filed by the wife of Charles E. Dobson for infringement on a banjo rim patent named Edwin L. Cubley and George Van Zandt as the defendants which offers a concrete connection between Van Zandt and Cubley's instruments [1]

Patent 382,465
Image from the US Patent office


Drum

He also patented a snare drum

Patent 407679
Image from the US Patent office


Sources

[1] https://books.google.com/books?id=BwUfVQLNsnkC&pg=PA797&dq=edwin+cubley&hl=en&newbks=1&newbks_redir=0&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiHt6r84-PxAhUIac0KHdIHD4UQ6AF6BAgFEAI#v=onepage&q=edwin%20cubley&f=false
[2] https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:N3H5-HJW
[3] https://mtr.arcade-museum.com/MTR-1924-79-12/33/
[4] https://www.newspapers.com/image/349853290/?terms=edwin%20j%20cubley&match=1
[5] https://www.newspapers.com/image/349258477/?terms=edwin%20j%20cubley&match=1
[6] https://www.newspapers.com/image/668349680/?terms=edwin%20j%20cubley&match=1
[7] https://www.newspapers.com/image/159863583/?terms=edwin%20j%20cubley&match=1
[8] https://www.newspapers.com/image/610954452/?terms=edwin%20j%20cubley&match=1
[9] https://www.newspapers.com/image/668100480/?terms=edwin%20j%20cubley&match=1
[10] https://books.google.com/books?id=-592CQAAQBAJ&pg=PT112&dq=edwin+cubley&hl=en&newbks=1&newbks_redir=0&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiHt6r84-PxAhUIac0KHdIHD4UQ6AF6BAgHEAI#v=onepage&q=edwin%20cubley&f=false
[11] https://www.newspapers.com/image/349497075/?terms=cubley%20factory&match=1
[12] https://www.newspapers.com/image/32901234/?terms=e%20j%20cubley&match=1
[13] https://books.google.com/books?id=oUo9AQAAMAAJ&pg=RA1-PA1229&dq=E.+J.+Cubley+%26+Co&hl=en&newbks=1&newbks_redir=0&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwie0N3QjeTxAhWHXM0KHSA0AcIQ6AF6BAgIEAI#v=onepage&q=E.%20J.%20Cubley%20%26%20Co&f=false
[14] https://acousticmusic.org/research/guitar-information/large-shop-guitar-builders/the-larson-brothers/

Image Credit:  Instagram - @notaluthier Possible Owners of the Brand Image Credit:  US Patent Office Gazette c.1927 Trademark Number: 235,20...

Image Credit: Instagram - @notaluthier


Possible Owners of the Brand

Image Credit: US Patent Office Gazette c.1927
Trademark Number: 235,206
Registration Serial Number: 252,336
Registered October 25th, 1921
Used by: Lester Piano Company in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


Image Credit: www.historicip.com
Trademark Number: 147,550
Registration Serial Number: 138,974
Registered October 25th, 1921
Used by: Montelius Music in Seattle, Washington


Image Credit: Ebay - Teacherwebb
Trademark Number: ?
Registration  Serial Number:  60,161,268
Registered November 7th, 1922
Used by: Q.R.S Music Company in Chicago, Illinois

No picture available
Image Credit: www.historicip.com
Trademark Number: ?
Registration Serial Number:  129,600
Registered March 9th, 1920
Used by: Art Cabinet Company in Newark, Ohio





About      Louis Viohl (b.1844, d. ?) was a German woodworker who immigrated to New York in 1880 from Bremen, Germany [3]. According to the ...

About

    Louis Viohl (b.1844, d. ?) was a German woodworker who immigrated to New York in 1880 from Bremen, Germany [3]. According to the 1880 census, he described his occupation as a 'piano maker' and was married to Sophia , another German immigrant [1]. By 1900, he had been widowed and described himself as a 'cabinet maker'. He had seven kids; Albrecht Louis Jr (b.1874), Sophie (b.1875), Louisa (b.1877), Dora (b.1880), Minnie (b.1884), Augustus (b.1888), Eliza (b.1892) [4]. 

According to the New York City Record Office's annual record of property value, Louis owned property in Flushing, Queens County, New York.

Image Source

Viohl's property highlighted
Image Credit
Jamaica avenue has been renamed to Kissena boulevard
Image Credit


Instruments

Empire State guitar label
Reverb - South Georgia Vintage


They built guitars and ukuleles and likely others. Their "Empire State" brand name is the most well known.


Sources

[2] https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33S7-9RXJ-SF9?i=14&cc=1488411&personaUrl=%2Fark%3A%2F61903%2F1%3A1%3AMVMQ-6J1
[3] https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:KDWF-2HS
[4] https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-6QC3-9WM?i=14&cc=1325221&personaUrl=%2Fark%3A%2F61903%2F1%3A1%3AMSLJ-J5G


Style A Flat Top Arch Top Tenor Neck: Mahogany Fingerboard: Ebonized hardwood Inlays: Single pearl dots Back and Sides: Mahogany Top: Spruce...

Style A

Flat Top
Arch Top
Tenor

  • Neck: Mahogany
  • Fingerboard: Ebonized hardwood
  • Inlays: Single pearl dots
  • Back and Sides: Mahogany
  • Top: Spruce

Style B

Flat Top
Arch Top
Tenor Archtop

  • Neck: Mahogany
  • Fingerboard: Ebonized hardwood
  • Inlays: Pearl dot pattern
  • Back and Sides: Figured maple
  • Top: Spruce

Style C

Flat Top
Archtop
Tenor

 

  • Neck: Mahogany
  • Fingerboard: Ebonized hardwood
  • Inlays: Ornate pearl shapes
  • Back and Sides: Brazilian Rosewood
  • Top: Spruce

Style 1

  • Neck: Poplar
  • Fingerboard: Ebonized hardwood
  • Inlays: Pearl Dots
  • Back and Sides: Birch
  • Top: Spruce

Style 2

  • Neck: Poplar
  • Fingerboard: Ebonized hardwood
  • Inlays: Pearl Dots
  • Back and Sides: Birch
  • Top: Spruce

Style 3

  • Neck: Poplar
  • Fingerboard: Ebonized hardwood
  • Inlays: Pearl Dots
  • Back and Sides:  Mahogany
  • Top: Spruce

Style 4

  • Neck: Poplar
  • Fingerboard: Ebonized hardwood
  • Inlays: Pearl Dots
  • Back and Sides: Figured maple
  • Top: Spruce

Mandolins and banjos will be added later



















  Image Credit:  Newspapers.com - Weekly Interior Herald from Hutchinson, Kansas c. 1893 Stumbled across this relatively unknown manufacture...

 

Image Credit: 
Newspapers.com - Weekly Interior Herald from Hutchinson, Kansas
c. 1893

Stumbled across this relatively unknown manufacturer of instruments from the town of Hutchinson, Kansas. This newspaper article details a visit from the Missouri-born pianist Blind Boone and noted that he ordered a 12 string guitar after being impressed with their build quality. The only other reference I could find to the manufacturer was on MugWumps who, as usual, has at least mentioned nearly every musical instrument manufacturer that has ever existed. Mr Holmes notes that they were in business from '1880-1899'.

According to a clipping of John L. Woodruff's obituary, he died in 1938 at the age of 76 having been born in Little St Louis, IL on August 9th, 1861. He is mentioned to have moved to Kansas when he was young and had six daughters and two sons. Van Woodruff is listed as still living in Kansas while Wallace Woodruff is listed as living in Washington state. So I think its likely that John and Van were the builders

I have yet to find a surviving example of their instruments



Image Source:  Music Trade Review c.1918 I was led to this manufacturer by MugWumps list on American instrument manufacturers  and was inter...


Image Source: Music Trade Review c.1918

I was led to this manufacturer by MugWumps list on American instrument manufacturers and was interested because of its tie to St Louis.

I literally cannot find anything else on the company


The Search for Economical Nut Files I'm going to preface this by saying I'm cheap. At the moment I am balancing college, two part-ti...

The Search for Economical Nut Files

I'm going to preface this by saying I'm cheap. At the moment I am balancing college, two part-time jobs, and this hobby so I'm always looking for a way to save a buck that could be used to buy gas (or more accurately) the next cool guitar. This is probably one of the biggest hurdles that people face when they try to get into guitar work (I know I did) and is the subject of thousands of forum threads. I have no ties to any of these products, I just enjoy making lists.

A properly cut nut from bone or synthetic is essential for tuning ease and stability and seems like a fairly straight forward process but is actually really involved. I've made at least a hundred nuts in the past few years and I'm only now getting to the point where they look like someone knew what they were doing when they made it. Part of that is having the right file. 

This is the ideal file pattern.
Rounded, toothed edges with safe sides
Image Credit: Grobet USA Catalog


Old Guitar Strings



This comes up frequently when the topic of economical nut files is discussed and is probably the most accessible solution. I've seen strings rigged into coping saws and glued into blocks of wood. You save money but you'll end up spending a lot of time devising your string holder, cleaning the debris from the strings, and slowly filing.

Just buy the welding torch tip cleaners... They'll perform similarly and you'll waste less time since you won't have to make a tool.

Welding Torch Tip Cleaners

These are hot garbage and I used them for at least half a dozen nuts when I first began working on guitars. The super cheap price is alluring but you learn quickly why these have not been adopted by professionals. These are designed to dislodge debris inside a welding torch nozzle so they're not exactly profiled to make deep cuts. In my experience I found them to cut very slowly (similar to a guitar string), clog frequently, and be prone to breaking.

The best way I found to use them was to use a saw to start your lines, a triangle or "knife" file to open up the slot to get near your desired depth, and then use these to finalize and round the bottom of the slots. It was inefficient and ugly. I would also highly recommend investing in a set of calipers or a micrometer to double check that each cleaner is the proper diameter.


Welding torch tip cleaners 
Image Credit: Amazon

Aliexpress Special


I was debating purchasing these and reviewing them but they appeared to be mediocre at best from the listing. The edges of the file are square so you'll have to come in with either a diamond bead reamer or a welding tip torch to round the bottom of the slot. Also the files have a triangular cutting profile which isn't great for nut slots as the strings will bind if you don't round it out. 

As for the quality of some Chinese files,  I purchased a copy of the Dragon rasp from AliExpress and I definitely got what I paid for. It was made of unhardened steel (you can bend the rasp at a 90 degree angle and it won't snap) and the steel was wavy down the length so it wouldn't be good for anything you want to be straight or level. 

Cost: $15 after shipping

Retailer: AliExpress

Sizes Available:
  • 1-6, I guess?

Notched Feeler Gauges

My first attempt was making slotting files for
acoustic guitar bridges. They turned out okay.

Feeler gauges come recommended as the cheapest way to get a set of nut files but they are a DIY project. If you have plenty of time and not a lot of money then I would recommend sitting down and making these. You will need a couple tools, however, and a bit of skill with them.

I used a set of old automotive feeler gauges and a Dremel with a No.409 cut off wheel to grind my notches. For those who do not have a cutting tool then you can use a triangle file or a knife edge file given that the metal has not been hardened (if your file cuts the metal, you're golden. If it 'skates' off then you need to use a grinding wheel). As you can see by my crude teeth, I was experimenting with different ways of cutting teeth into the steel and settled on an alternating pattern of notches that are heavier on the left and right sides. It works great for slotting bridges but is prone to chipping when I tried to use them on bone.

To make them easier to hold I cut a notch into some figured maple and epoxied the files into them. The handles are quaint but they are more friendly than the bare metal

Things I learned
  • Use a quality set of feeler gauges, somewhere between $10 and $25. No stainless steel
  • You will have to round over the edges of your gauges, I opted to 'rock' them back and forth on a belt sander.
  • The closer together your teeth are, the better the file will perform
  • Don't cut an L shape into the file like I did, I honestly have no idea what my end goal was there

Hiroshima Uo-Chikyu Files



Image Credit: Grizzly.com

Hiroshima Files is a Japanese-based manufacturer of abrasive tools and appear to be the OEM for some StewMac and Hosco products. They have the largest selection of individual files that I can find and they also provide a couple different sets at a slight discount. The full selection is only available from a Japanese distributor but Grizzly sells a nice set and a few extras and I'm sure there are some other US distributors out there

Cost: $9 - $13 each 

Retailer: PlazaJapan.com (JP), JaParts (CA) or Grizzly.com (USA) for a more limited selection

Sizes Available:
  • 0.009"
  • 0.010"
  • 0.011"
  • 0.012"
  • 0.013"
  • 0.016"
  • 0.017"
  • 0.024"
  • 0.026"
  • 0.032"
  • 0.036"
  • 0.040"
  • 0.042"
  • 0.045"
  • 0.046"
  • 0.050"
  • 0.053"
  • 0.054"
  • 0.056"
  • 0.065"
  • 0.080"
  • 0.085"
  • 0.100"
  • 0.105"
  • 0.135"
 

Hosco Edge Cut File


Cost: $13-$19 each

Retailer: You can find from on Ebay or in a set of 10 for $109 from Philadelphia Luthier Tools

Sizes Available:
  • 0.010"
  • 0.013"
  • 0.016"
  • 0.024"
  • 0.028"
  • 0.032"
  • 0.036"
  • 0.042"
  • 0.046"
  • 0.056"

Music Nomad Diamond Nut Files

These are the newest files on the market at the time of writing and definitely the cheapest diamond nut files available. I have yet to try them out but I will certainly report back once I do

Cost: $16.99 each

Retailer: Any MusicNomad retailer but currently zZounds.com was the only website I found

Sizes Available:
  • 0.010"
  • 0.013"
  • 0.016"
  • 0.020"
  • 0.024"
  • 0.028"
  • 0.032"
  • 0.036"
  • 0.042"
  • 0.046"
  • 0.050"
  • 0.056"
  • 0.065"
  • 0.085"
  • 0.105"
  • 0.130"

  Administration John T Higgins [1] Jay Kraus [3] A. A. Anderson Charles A Rubovitz Joe Graser Robert Putter In 1940 the company announced t...

 

Administration

John T Higgins [1]

Jay Kraus [3]

A. A. Anderson
Charles A Rubovitz
Joe Graser
Robert Putter







In 1940 the company announced that it would cease production and began searching for a purchaser [4]. In 1941, Jay Kraus, the president, purchased the company and moved the factory from 1738-54 North Lawndale Avenue to 3631-3633 South Racine Avenue [3].
  • President: 
    • William J. T. Schultz [5]
    • (1930s-1940) Jay Kraus [2]
    • (1941-?) John T Higgins [1]
  • Vice President:
    • (?-1925) J. R. Stewart [5]
    • (1925-1930s) Jay Kraus [5]
  • Secretary
    • L. M. Viner [5]
  • Credit Manager: A. A. Anderson c.1940 [1]
  • Merchandising, Designing, and Sales: Charles "Chuck" A Rubovitz  c.1940 [1]
  • Head of Factory Operations: Joe Graser c.1940 [1]
  • New York representative and head of Eastern sales: Robert Putter c.1940 [1]

Staff

  • Assistant secretary, Catherine Barkoulies [6]



Sources

[1] https://presto.arcade-museum.com/PRESTO-1940-2293/33/
[2] https://presto.arcade-museum.com/PRESTO-1939-2291/19/
[3] https://presto.arcade-museum.com/PRESTO-1941-2298/31/
[4] https://presto.arcade-museum.com/PRESTO-1940-2297/29/
[5] https://mtr.arcade-museum.com/MTR-1925-80-16/39/
[6] https://www.madeinchicagomuseum.com/single-post/harmony-company/

 

This will be a list of information about music stores that used to exist in St Louis, Missouri and the surrounding areas. I will attempt to ...

This will be a list of information about music stores that used to exist in St Louis, Missouri and the surrounding areas. I will attempt to list the dates that the stores were in operation but will indicate with a question mark when I'm uncertain about the exact date of demise. 

Alton, Illinois

  • Acord Music Shop (1952 - 1969) [1][2]
    • Located at 7 W Ferguson Ave, Wood River, IL 
    • Owned by Ozzie Acord and his wife Mabel.
    • Carried stringed instruments as well as band instruments and some accessories for both
  • Community Music Center (1953 - 1960s - ?) 
    • Sold sheet music, records, and band and orchestra instruments
  • Davis Music Company (? - 1932 - 1945)
    • Located at 412 East Broadway
    • Owned by Newton and Katharine Boggess [6]
    • Sold to the Gould Music Company after Newton's death [5]
  • Gould Music Company (? - 1961) 
    • Owned by Ralph Gould
    • Purchased by Clem and Juanita Halpin in 1961 and merged into Halpin Music Co.
    • Sold musical instruments, sheet music, records, and accessories
    • Also had a small instrument repair shop that did minor repairs
  • Harszy Music Repair Shop (? - 1960s through 70s - ?)

  • Kiesselhorst Music Store (?)
    • Maybe related to the St Louis piano company of the same name?
  • Peters Music Store / Peters Gift Shop (?)

  • Plummer-Kramer Music Company (? - 1920s through 50s - ?) 
    • Owned by Bert Plummer
    • Called the "oldest of the music services organizations in the community" in 1954
    • Stocked sheet music, band and orchestra instruments, and outsourced their repairs
  • Royal School of Music (?)
    • Primarily sold guitars and accordions and organized accordion bands
    • Carried accessories and sheet music but not orchestra or band instruments
    • Taught lessons in their establishment as well as in conjunction with other area shops
  • Williams Music Store (? - 1920s - ?)

East St Louis, Illinois

St Louis, Missouri

Sources

[1] http://scholars.indstate.edu/xmlui/bitstream/handle/10484/5029/isua-thesis-1954-mccormick.pdf?sequence=2
[2] https://www.riverbender.com/obits/details/mabel-c-acord-alton-obituary-6008.cfm
[3] https://www.advantagenews.com/news/educational-edifice/article_14256557-b682-568d-bbad-b28f63b27c1f.html
[4] https://www.newspapers.com/image/17211248/?terms=%22community%20music%20center%22&match=1
[5] https://www.newspapers.com/image/17144830/?terms=davis%20music&match=1
[6] https://www.newspapers.com/image/26096193/?terms=davis%20music&match=1

 Hosting the informative photos I put together

 Hosting the informative photos I put together


 Franz Schwarzer Zithers and Stringed Instruments Franz Schwarzer Image Credit: Zither.us I won't reiterate what has already been writte...

 Franz Schwarzer Zithers and Stringed Instruments

Franz Schwarzer
Image Credit: Zither.us

I won't reiterate what has already been written about Franz Schwarzer and his company, as there are more much knowledgeable resources who have done it better, but I will try to expand on what is already known. If you do own a Schwarzer instrument, contact me and I'll get you as much information as I can and may even buy it. I live in St Louis, Missouri and love all history relating to my state.

1930 Washington Citizen article [8]

I recently shelled out the cash to purchase high quality scans of the original Schwarzer factory log books and now can date most Schwarzer instruments via their serial number down to the month (sometimes even day) and provide the name of the original purchaser. 

"To say that a zither is a guitar on which a fat man sat and then fastened the neck at the side instead of where it belonged would be resented here" [8]

Operation of the Factory

At its peak, the Schwarzer factory employed 25 men in the business and construction of instruments [9]. The factory was described as feeling like an "ordinary cabinet making shop" but with zithers, violins, guitars, and other stringed instruments hanging on the walls and on workbenches in various states of construction. Even through the 1930s the instruments were still produced primarily by hand as the employees, and some discerning players, believed that machinery was counterintuitive to making a proper zither [8]. 

Despite the association with zithers, the Schwarzer factory also produced guitars, harp guitars, violins, and mandolins in any configuration that the customer desired. There are also records in the log books of "heart shaped" violins being produced. Interest in zithers began to wane in the early 20th century and the logs reflect that with a small increase in non-zither instruments being manufactured. 

Advertising the expanse of where Schwarzer instruments could be shipped, a 1926 newspaper article notes that zithers had been sent, via submarine, to Chile and sent through Alaska via dog sled [6]. In 1938, the factory was eager to demonstrate the efficiency of transporting zither strings across the country via air mail [7].

Albert A. Hesse and A. W. Schepp were in charge of designing the instruments after Franz's passing [6].

Serial Numbers

Excerpt from the log book

I have indicated the first serial number for each year or the earliest known serial number by date
Email me with your serial number and I can give you more detailed information including limited info on any factory repairs
  • July 1885 - #2001
  • 1886 - #2154
  • 1887 - #2422
  • 1888 - #2710
  • 1889 - #3035
  • 1890 - #3395
  • 1891 - #3855
  • 1892 - #4354
  • 1893 - #4950
  • 1894 - #5556
  • 1895 - #6098
  • 1896 - #6541
  • 1897 - #6901
  • 1898 - #7241
  • 1899 - #7533
  • 1900 - #7732
  • 1901 - #8022
  • 1902 - #8311
  • 1903 - #8518
  • 1904 - #8732 - February, Death of Franz Schwarzer, his wife takes over
  • 1905 - #9002
  • 1906 - #9160
  • 1907 - #9319
  • 1908 - #9463
  • 1909 - #9586
  • 1910 - #9717
  • 1911 - #9822
  • 1912 - #9932 - Death of Mrs. Schwarzer, nephew Herman Grohe takes over
  • 1913 - #10044
  • 1914 - #10138
  • 1915 - #10197
  • 1916 - #10242
  • 1917 - #10304
  • 1918 - #10358
  • 1919 - #10426
  • 1920 - #10500
  • 1921 - #10556
  • 1922 - #10599
  • 1923 - #10622
  • 1924 - #10655 - Death of Grohe, veteran worker Albert Hesse takes over
  • 1925 - #10678
  • 1926 - #10706
  • 1927-1935 - Production hits rock bottom and the log book becomes increasingly more erratic. Grohe's widow ceases operations at the factory in 1933 but a handful of instruments are still produced
  • October 1936 - #10826
  • 1937 - #10829
  • 1938 - #10836
  • 1939 - #10842
  • 1940 - #10845
  • 1941 - #10848
  • 1943 - #10849
  • 1945 - #10850
  • 1946 - #10851, 10852, and 10853 were the only instruments produced
  • 1951 - #10854
  • October 20th, 1951 - #10855 The final instrument in the books, a 32 string concert zither for Carolyn Johnson
  • 1953 - Factory is scheduled to be demolished. [2]
    • May 2nd, 1953 was to be the date of the auction for the contents of the factory including tools, clamps, wood, fixtures, workbenches, antiques and souvenirs, and the remaining instrument stock [5]

String Winding Machine

According to a 1956 issue of the Washington Citizen newspaper, employee Albert Hesse had been winding the strings for the Schwarzer zithers since at least 1912 on a pedal operated machine. After the factory was shuttered, he moved the winding machine to his home and continued to produce strings for zither players and perform repairs on Schwarzer instruments. According to articles I can find, he was the last living employee of the factory. He passed away in the early 1950s and his wife began selling off his tools.

In comes Alberta Krader, a New York born zither player and music teacher. Her family moved to New Castle, Pennsylvania where she continued to make a name for herself as a musician and instructor. She was so important to the popularity of the instrument that she was invited to ride in a zither themed float in the 1939 Washington, Missouri centennial celebration with Hesse. 

1956 Washington Citizen column [3]


Alberta had to opportunity to purchase the Schwarzer string winding contraption from Hesse's widow in the mid 1950s and had it shipped to her residence in Pasadena, California. She had intended to continue to produce zither strings for the community of players and to teach "young handicapped lad" how to operate the machine to carry on Hesse's legacy. She died in 1966 and the fate of the machine is unclear as I do not believe she had any children. 

Sources

[1] https://www.zither.us/schwarzer.zither.king
[2] https://www.newspapers.com/image/126314274/?terms=schwarzer%20factory&match=1
[3] https://www.newspapers.com/image/137307970/?terms=schwarzer%20factory&match=1
[4] https://www.zither.us/zitherist.alberta.krader
[5] https://www.newspapers.com/image/126314057/?terms=schwarzer%20factory&match=1
[6] https://www.newspapers.com/image/94326672/?terms=schwarzer%20factory&match=1
[7] https://www.newspapers.com/image/94322955/?terms=schwarzer%20factory&match=1
[8] https://www.newspapers.com/image/94356373/?terms=schwarzer%20factory&match=1
[9] https://www.newspapers.com/image/92093037/?terms=schwarzer%20factory&match=1