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

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  Photograph from August's obituary [7] About August Gemünder (b. 1814, d.1895) was born in Würtemberg, Germany to violin maker Johann G...

August Gemünder & Sons - New York

 

Photograph from August's obituary [7]

About

August Gemünder (b. 1814, d.1895) was born in Würtemberg, Germany to violin maker Johann George Heinrich Gemünder and his wife [2]. August was born into the trade with his father having an established reputation for manufacturing and repairing (including the repair of four Stradivari violins in 1828). When August was around 11 years old, his father began teaching him the tools of the trade which would carry him for the rest of his life. This education was furthered by August and his two brothers (Johann George Jr and Albert) being apprenticed under Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume in Paris where they developed techniques in construction, finishing, and violin shop operation [8]. August was noted to have built a replica of Pablo de Sarasate's Amati violin and Sarasate publicly declared the instrument to be as good as the original [7]. 

In 1846 August and Albert immigrated to the United States and settled in Springfield, Massachusetts where they would remain August decided to move to New York to take advantage of a wider market for his instruments. He also began trading in old violins which supplemented his catalog of shop-made instruments. This included the "Art" line of violins which were imported 'in the white' from Germany then modified and finished in the Gemünder workshop with their touches and label [8]. 

In his personal life, he married a younger German immigrant named Henerietta and had four sons, August Martin Jr (b.1864), Rudolph (b.1865), Charles (b.1870), Oscar (b.1872), and one daughter Lena (b. 1867) [2]. August Jr, Rudolph, and Oscar would all work in the shop constructing and finishing musical instruments. In January of 1891, August Jr and Rudolph would join their father as partners to the business while Oscar maintained their publications such as The Violin World periodical [5].

August Sr died in 1895 but the firm continued operation due to August Jr's ambition. In 1917, the firm was ordered to liquidate due to the requests of Rudolph's widow [10]. August Jr died in 1928 and Oscar continued to run the business until his death in 1946 when it ceased entirely [8].

Gemünder Instrument Catalog

Only one extant catalog has been documented and it remains in the possession of the Library of Congress. I requested an excerpt from this 1895 catalog and have provided photos of the guitars and mandolins here. There is another section on violins which can be found here:


Explanation of Gemünder's process of aging their violins

The storefront was described as being "heavily stocked with violins and guitars (a large proportion of which are imported from Germany, France, and England) with a full assortment of bows and strings from Italy, and with a number of very fine instruments of the firm's own manufacture..." [6]. 



They produced instruments with solid Brazilian Rosewood, bird's eye maple, and mahogany





Sources

[1] https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:2W6K-MRF
[2] https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33SQ-GYB4-949X?i=22&cc=1417683&personaUrl=%2Fark%3A%2F61903%2F1%3A1%3AMZ6N-4D7
[3] https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33SQ-GR6R-N4Z?i=38&cc=1488411&personaUrl=%2Fark%3A%2F61903%2F1%3A1%3AMJB4-Z1W
[4] https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33S7-9RZ7-7W6?i=28&cc=1810731&personaUrl=%2Fark%3A%2F61903%2F1%3A1%3AX7DD-4FL
[5] https://books.google.com/books?id=sFVGAQAAMAAJ&pg=PA27&dq=August+Gem%C3%BCnder&hl=en&newbks=1&newbks_redir=0&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwip-uWL4ODxAhWHPM0KHfJ6DbMQ6AF6BAgGEAI#v=onepage&q=August%20Gem%C3%BCnder&f=false
[6] https://books.google.com/books?id=zmgoAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA221&dq=August+Gem%C3%BCnder&hl=en&newbks=1&newbks_redir=0&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjmypi-4eDxAhUTCM0KHf8LA-k4ChDoAXoECAMQAg
[7] https://books.google.com/books?id=JRtMAQAAMAAJ&pg=RA23-PA27&dq=August+Gem%C3%BCnder&hl=en&newbks=1&newbks_redir=0&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjmypi-4eDxAhUTCM0KHf8LA-k4ChDoAXoECAYQAg#v=onepage&q=August%20Gem%C3%BCnder&f=false
[8] https://www.immigrantentrepreneurship.org/entries/george-gemunder/#_edn55
[9] https://books.google.com/books?id=RAhJAQAAMAAJ&pg=PA553&dq=August+Gem%C3%BCnder&hl=en&newbks=1&newbks_redir=0&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjG6qeQ7uDxAhWJGs0KHYEcAbI4FBDoAXoECAIQAg#v=onepage&q=August%20Gem%C3%BCnder&f=false
[10] https://books.google.com/books?id=IpgyAQAAMAAJ&pg=PA275&dq=August+Gem%C3%BCnder&hl=en&newbks=1&newbks_redir=0&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjG6qeQ7uDxAhWJGs0KHYEcAbI4FBDoAXoECAMQAg#v=onepage&q=August%20Gem%C3%BCnder&f=false