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Catalog Data

Vassos, John  Search this
Hohner  Search this
Physical Description:
plastic (overall material)
metal (overall material)
enamel (overall material)
box: 1 1/2 in x 5 3/4 in x 2 in; 3.81 cm x 14.605 cm x 5.08 cm
Object Name:
Place made:
Date made:
ca 1953
<p>This harmonica was made by Hohner, Germany, about 1953, and designed by painter and Industrial designer John Vassos. It is a Comet model in a crescent-shape, with 16 double holes and 32 reeds. It has a purple plastic comb with metal cover plates attached with screws. Accessioned with an original plastic box. The harmonica is enameled:</p>
<p>COMET<br>[Hohner logo]<br>M.HOHNER<br>MADE IN GERMANY</p>
<p>(and printed on the box):</p>
<p>Painter and Industrial designer John Vassos (1898-1985), was born in Sulina, Romania to Greek parents who moved when he was a child to Istanbul, Turkey. After the end of WWI, Vassos emigrated to the United States. He was trained as an artist and entered the fledgling field of industrial design in the 1920s. In addition to designing products, he wrote and illustrated books, painted murals, undertook commercial art commissions, was a founder and first president of the earliest professional design organization in the U.S. (the American Designers Institute) and co-founded one of the first programs in industrial design education. While working for RCA Victor, Vassos was responsible for the designs for radios with the first horizontal dial, the first push-button tuning, the first legless console case, and the first plastic case. As was typical, Vassos worked for numerous companies and designed a wide variety of products ranging from an RCA electron microscope (1934) to Waterman's first Lucite pen (1928) to the turnstile for the Perey Company (1929).<p>
<p>John Vassos Papers are housed in the Smithsonian Archives of American Art.</p>
Currently not on view
Credit Line:
Gift of Paul Johnes
ID Number:
Catalog number:
Accession number:
See more items in:
Cultural and Community Life: Musical Instruments
Music & Musical Instruments
Popular Entertainment
Data Source:
National Museum of American History