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Ivan J. Hlad's Tamburitza Mfg. Co. Ad [7] 1707 S. Racine Avenue, Chicago Tamburitza Mfg. Co Ivan J. Hlad Undated photograph attributed t...

Ivan John Hlad and the Tamburitza Mfg. Co - Fort Recovery, Ohio and Chicago, Illinois

Ivan J. Hlad's Tamburitza Mfg. Co. Ad [7]
1707 S. Racine Avenue, Chicago

Tamburitza Mfg. Co

Ivan J. Hlad

Undated photograph attributed to Ivan Hlad [7]
  • 1888 
    • Born December 12th in Hrvatsko Zagorje, Croatia [1]
  • Apprenticed in Zagreb in the factory of Terezija Kovačić
  • Apprenticed in Graz, Austria with a builder named Kocman [9]
  • 1912
    • Ivan Hlad and his wife immigrated to the United States and left their two young children behind in Europe with family
  • 1917
    • Ivan was working at the Kimball Piano Company [2]
  • 1920
    • Ivan listed his occupation as 'maker of musical goods' at a 'music factory'
    • Living at 1834 Racine Avenue with his wife Anna [3]
  • 1925
    • November 5th, became a naturalized citizen and lived at 1920 S. Racine Avenue
  • 1934
    • Married Helen Galik, 16 years his younger [8]
  • 1975
    • April 8th, Ivan died at the age of 85
    • He lived in a quaint home at 2403 S Kedvale Avenue in Chicago [1]


Ivan had two sons, Michael and Slavco. Both men were interviewed by folklorist Richard March in 1977 and their audio interviews touch on Ivan's life.

According to Michael,
  • Ivan started in a partnership in Fort Recovery after immigrating
  • Three people got together expecting to become millionaires
  • An old man financed them but it was clear the men didn't know what they were doing
  • The old man put Ivan’s wife on a train to Chicago
  • Also threatened to kill Ivan so he went to Chicago
  • Ivan worked at the Kimball Piano Company for two years
  • Started working at 1920 Racine
  • Then moved to 1707 Racine which is where he stayed "for quite a while"
  • In 1928, Michael Hlad, Ivan’s son, immigrated to the United States
  • Michael helped Ivan out on the weekend and evenings


The Tamburitza Manufacturing Company of Fort Recovery, Ohio was founded in 1917, according to their own literature, and began when Ivan J. Hlad opened his his own facility. Ivan's firm was under the name (translated by /u/KajJaZnamKak) "First Croatian tambura factory and musical partitions printing press in Chicago, Illinois, Ivan Hlad as the owner" and built instruments as well as 

Sanborn Fire Insurance Map showing 1707 S. Racine Ave c.1914
A four story building with a two story building behind it
Image Credit: Library of Congress

Less than ten years later, the Tamburitza Manufacturing Company began taking shape in Fort Recovery, Ohio under the leadership of Ivan Hlad and Andrija Franic. 

In 1927 the company was formally established with an initial capital stock of $50,000. H. W. Long was the President, Edward Koch was the Vice President, Frank E. Hoke was the secretary, G. W. Reuter was the treasurer, and A. Franic was the general manager.
1926 Page on the Tamburiza Mfg Co
from Almanak i statistika juz̆nih slavena
Image Source: HathiTrust - Babel

The above ad is in Croatian but an incredible Reddit user on /r/Translator named /u/KajJaZnamKak translated the page ad into English an hour after he said he would. I'm incredibly grateful for his work.
The largest factory of "tamburitzas" in the world!

(Founded in 1917)

Printing press for all types of scores, adapted for tamburitzas in 8 or 9 sections.

Our credo is: "Meticulous and timely craftsmanship and efficient service!"

(Photo of the building) – This is our own bulding.

Tamburitza Manufacturing Co.

Hlad and Franić, the owners. Forth Recovery, Ohio.

We make tamburas by Farkaš and Syrmian system. It is an honour to present this large and modern factory to Yugoslav people, where we create all kinds of tamburas, in accordance with modern and scientific principles.

Our workshop was created back in 1917 in Chicago, IL under the name "First Croatian tambura factory and musical partitions printing press in Chicago, Illinois, Ivan Hlad as the owner". The factory was always the most acclaimed and recognizable among our people in the United States. To confirm this, perhaps the best proof is that the workshop evolved in such a short period of time into a big and modern factory. Thus, our production of tamburitzas is arguably the largest in the world. We're doing business with most tamburitza players in the United States, and own more than two thousand certificates and accolades from tamburitza clubs and individuals all over the United States.

Our factory is equipped with modern machines and devices. We employ able and skillful workers. The production of tamburitzas is supervised by Mr Ivan Hlad, who, with his his knowledge and skill garnered huge praise and recognition among our people in the USA. We are always having tamburitzas in storage, and are willing to send them as soon as we get the order.

We're also creating the best types of gusle. We are always ready to send the price list of gusle for free.

The quality of our tamburas are guaranteed. If the customer is dissatisfied with the sound or the make of the instrument, we will do a full refund. Our factory is the only one who is willing to give such guarantee. Our factory is also connected with publishing all kinds of scores for tamburitzas. The score publishing section is supervised by A[ndrija] Franić, who is recognized by his skill and knowledge among our tamburitza players in the United States.

Excellent craftsmanship of Mr Hlad and musical knowledge of Mr Franić is merged together. Thus we provide tamburitza players with the best tamburitzas and the best notations for tamburas.

Mr Hlad and Mr Franić invented an appliance, which is put into tambura to increase the loudness of the tambura for 65%. The appliance's name is Master Tone Amplifier. We can insert the amplifier to offer the replacement for the other tambura, or we do a full refund. We send our tambura price list to anyone on demand, for free. For inquiries, money or money orders, we are available at:

Tamburiza Manufacturing Co.

Fort Recovery, Ohio


Milutin Farkaš was a Croatian composer and conductor famous for various musical pieces written for tamburitza. He also reformed the way tamburitzas should be played in 1894.

Gusle and tamburitza are types of musical instruments, most common for the Balkans. This is why the advertisement was beamed towards Yugoslav emigres

1944 Letter from Ivan Hlad to a New Zealand musician
Image Source: Kura Auckland Libraries
Reproduced with permission

Translation of letter from Hlad Tamburitza Manufacturing Co. – Chicago, 25 April 1944

Dear Sir,

I received your letter and am sending you the prices of the instruments and the strings. If you do go ahead and purchase please add the cost of postage to New Zealand as we do not pay for international deliveries.

Furthermore, you will need to contact your consul with details of how many instruments and sets of strings, plus the cost of postage so that you can get a license from him. You need to send this licence to me with your order.

You may also need to go to the U.S. consulate in your area.  Ask your consul about this. I won’t be researching this for you as I haven’t the time. I am too busy. Whatever you need to do is not my business. I had one order that came without a licence and I had to do all the paperwork. I was not paid for this work or my time. This licence is called PRIORITIES EXPORT LICENCE.

I have the strings, as designated in the price list, already cut to size and sorted for each type of tamburitza. You can order these by the dozen.

For the Bisernica and Kontrašica: number 1

Brać I: number 4

Brać II & III: number 4 & 8

Bugarija II: numbers 4,6 &8

Bugarija I: numbers 2,4 & 6

Farkaš Čelo, Brać twisted wire strings, 25 cents each or $2.75 per dozen.

That’s all for now. If you can’t write in our language, reply in English.


Ivan Hlad

He is also mentioned in this 1946 article but I have yet to figure out how to access the whole text


[11] Michael Hlad Interview - Library of Congress

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