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Sohmer & Co. Records

Author:
Falcone Custom Grand Pianos  Search this
Donor:
Pratt, Read and Company  Search this
Creator:
Sohmer & Company  Search this
Collector:
National Museum of American History (U.S.). Division of Musical Instruments  Search this
Names:
Sohmer & Company  Search this
Kuder, Joseph  Search this
Sohmer, Harry J.  Search this
Sohmer, Harry J., Jr.  Search this
Sohmer, Hugo  Search this
Sohmer, William  Search this
Extent:
43 Cubic feet (82 boxes and 11 map-folders)
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Photographs
Sales catalogs
Photographic prints
Advertisements
Scrapbooks
Clippings
Journals (accounts)
Ledgers (account books)
Place:
Ivoryton (Conn.)
New York (N.Y.) -- Musical instruments industry
Date:
1872-1989
Scope and Contents:
The records of Sohmer & Co., date from 1872 through 1989. They fall into fourteen series based primarily on function. Legal, financial, inventory & appraisal, manufacturing, marketing, advertising, and sales are the major series. Photographs, awards, family papers, publications about Sohmer, general publications, "miscellaneous" and correspondence are the remaining series. The records are especially strong in the areas of advertising, finances, and marketing. The collection does not contain corporate records, articles of incorporation, executive records, minutes, annual reports, or personnel records such as payrolls or job descriptions.
Arrangement:
The collection is divided into 14 series.

Series 1: Stock and Legal Records, 1882-1985

Series 2: Financial Records, 1887-1962

Series 3: Inventory & Appraisal Records, 1891-1980

Series 4: Manufacturing Records, 1872-1967

Series 5: Marketing, 1901-1989

Series 6: Advertising Records, 1880-1983

Series 7: Sales Records, 1923-1982

Series 8: Photographs, circa 1920-1964

Series 9: Awards, 1876-1976

Serioes 10: Sohmer Family Papers, 1945-1970

Series 11: Publications about Sohmer, 1883-1986

Series 12: General Publications, 1912-1985

Series 13: Miscellaneous Records, 1894-1983

Series 14: Correspondence, 1892-1987
Historical:
When Sohmer & Co. was founded in 1872 by Hugo Sohmer and his partner Joseph Kuder, it became one of 171 piano manufacturers in New York City. Over the next 110 years, Sohmer & Co. was one of the few active and successful family-owned and operated piano-making ventures in the United States. Nationally known for tonal quality and fine craftmanship, the firm's product, in the music trade, came to be referred to as "The Piano-Maker's Piano."
Biographical:
Born to an eminent physician in Dunningen, Wurtemberg, Germany on November 11, 1846, Hugo Sohmer enjoyed a first class education. Riding the last major wave of German immigration, which had brought piano makers such as Albert Weber, George Steck, John and Charles Fischer, and Henry E. Steinway to America, Hugo arrived in New York City in 1862. He became an apprentice in the piano making house of Schuetze & Ludolf. To learn more about European piano making, Hugo returned to Germany in 1868 and travelled extensively throughout Europe. In 1870 he returned to New York and by 1872 the 26 year old Sohmer and his partner, Josef Kuder, began manufacturing pianos in the 149 East 14th Street factory previously utilized by J.H. Boernhoeft and most recently by Marschall & Mittauer.

Josef Kuder, originally from Bohemia, Austria Hungary, learned piano making in Vienna between 1847 and 1854. Kuder arrived in New York in 1854 and became a pianomaker with Steinway & Sons which had been founded in 1853. In 1861 he returned to Vienna; he worked there until returning to New York in 1864, where he worked for Marschall & Mittauer until joining Sohmer.

Concentrating on tonal quality and response, Sohmer & Co. began producing pianos which were recognized in 1876 by an award from the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia. In the waning years of the nineteenth century Sohmer & Co. received other awards including a diploma from the Exposition Provinciale in Montreal, Quebec in 1881, the gold medal at the Great New England Fair in Worcester, Massachusetts in 1889, and an award from the World's Columbian Commission in 1893 in Chicago.

By 1883 additional factory space, located on East 23rd Street and formerly used by Carhart & Needham, was occupied to accomodate increased production. In three years this space proved inadequate and forced the renting of an extension to the original factory. The main office and salesrooms were located at 31 West 57th Street in New York City. Meanwhile, in 1884 Sohmer invented the first five foot "baby" grand piano which was applauded for its musical brilliance and depth of tone. In the early 1900's Sohmer produced grand pianos in four sizes: Concert, Parlor, Baby & Cupid.

Limited space and increased production soon became issues again, and in 1887 the company moved its factory and special machinery to Astoria, Long Island. This factory, located at 31st Avenue and Vernon Boulevard, remained in continuous operation until 1982, when the Adirondack Chair Co. bought the building and Pratt Read acquired the company.

During the 1880s a number of letters patent were granted to Sohmer for such piano improvements as the agraffe bar for tone augmentation, and the aliquot string, which were auxiliary strings "arranged in conjunction with the regular strings for the purpose of giving forth reverberatory or sympathetic waves of sound, thus augmenting the general tone results of each unison." (Spillane, History, 256.)

In 1894 Hugo Sohmer took competitor Sebastian Sommer to court for stenciling the name "Sommer" on the fallboard of his pianos. Sohmer declared that "Sohmer" was a trademark used as an emblem to distinguish the piano from others, especially the Sommer piano which he considered inferior. The court in this equity case dismissed the case on the grounds that Sohmer had not proven damages accruing from the advertising and sale of the Sommer piano.

By 1907 Sohmer & Co. was producing 2,000 pianos per year. Additionally, with Farrand & Co. of Detroit, Sohmer was making the Sohmer Cecilian player piano. On June 8, 1913 Hugo Sohmer died in Scarsdale, N.Y.; 20 days later, Josef Kuder died as well. Hugo was survived by his wife, Elizabeth; a daughter, Adelaide S. Weber; and a son, Harry J. Sohmer, born in 1886. Company leadership was assumed by Harry J. Sohmer after Hugo's death.

During the 1920s Sohmer began a special department in its plant for the manufacture of period pianos. According to Harry Sohmer, the 1930s were difficult. He recalled that, once only one piano in 29 days was shipped. The number of American piano manufacturers dropped from 140 to 22 during this time. It was during this time that Harry's cousins, Frank and Paul Sohmer joined the company as consultants. However, through its pioneering efforts in the introduction of a console vertical piano known as a "Spinet," Sohmer revitalized the industry. (Taylor, "Piano Family.") This console vertical piano has been called "The Musicians' Console.

Primarily because of its concentration on the console vertical pianos Sohmer & Co. never cultivated famous performers in the way that Steinway and Baldwin did. While publicly acknowledging that it never entered into the competition for artistic endorsement (an acknowledgement which perhaps worked to its favor), Sohmer & Co. relied upon a most comprehensive and innovative advertising strategy stressing integrity, quality and craftsmanship in the pursuit of the ideal tone and touch.

In 1940 Harry incorporated the company as Sohmer & Co. and led it, with his sons Harry J. Sohmer, Jr., (born 1917) as production manager and Robert H. Sohmer (born 1920), as process engineer. By 1969 Harry Jr. was vice president in charge of production and Robert was production engineer/ treasurer. In 1971 Harry Sr. died and Harry Jr. became president.

In 1982 Pratt Read Corporation, a long established manufacturer of piano keyboards, acquired Sohmer & Co. for an undisclosed amount, and moved the operations to its Ivoryton, Connecticut factory, while retaining the Sohmer name. The Sohmer brothers retained their positions in the company. At the time of its purchase Sohmer & Co. employed 120 people, produced 2500 pianos yearly, and grossed $5 million in sales. Harry J. Sohmer, Jr., grandson of the founder, in expressing his feelings about the move and the Sohmer piano, compared his piano to old New York beers saying that "they were strictly New York products and in a way so were we." He concluded by saying, "We were always identified with this city. Sohmer was a New York piano." (Prial, "Sohmer Piano.")

By July 1983 under Pratt Read's management Sohmer was producing 6 pianos per day, only 50% of the expected capacity according to H.B. Comstock, president of Pratt Read. In 1986 the Ivoryton factory was sold to a group of investors organized as Sohmer Holding Co., who continued to make pianos there until a lack of skilled workers and financial losses forced its closing in December 1988. In an effort to fill the backlog of orders, Sohmer president Tom Bradshaw opened a new facility in Elysburg, Pennsylvania. A retail showroom was maintained in Ivoryton. In 1989, the Sohmer company was sold to the Falcone Custom Grand Piano Company of Haverhill, Massachusetts.

References

Cox, Erin. "Labor Woes a Main Factor in Sohmer Closing," The Pictorial Gazette West, 3 (December 8, 1988), 1, 22.

Dolge, Alfred. Piano and their Makers. 1911; rpt. New York: Dover Publications, 1973.

Loesser, Arthur. Men, Women and Pianos: A Social History. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1954.

Musical Merchandise Review. "Sohmer Pianos Underway at Conn. Pratt Read," July 1983, 91.

The Music Trades. "Pratt, Read Acquires Sohmer & Co. Piano Maker,"August 1982, 18.

Piano and Organ Purchaser's Guide, 1907, 1930. Prial, Frank J. "Sohmer Piano, and 110 Years of Craft, will leave Astoria," New York Times, August 13, 1982, B1, B4.

Purchaser's Guide to the Music Industries. 1956, New York: The Music Trades, 1956, 58 60.

Spillane, Daniel. History of the American Pianoforte: Its Technical Development, and the Trade. 1890; rpt. New York: Da Capo Press, 1969.

Taylor, Carol. "Piano Family Stays in Tune," New York World Telegram & Sun, August 15, 1958.
Materials in the Archives Center, National Museum of American History:
Pratt Read Corp. Records (AC0320)

Chickering & Sons Records (AC0264)

Steinway Piano Co. Collection (AC0178)
Provenance:
Collection donated by Pratt Read Corporation, August 11, 1989.
Restrictions:
Collection is open for research.
Collection is open for research.
Rights:
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Topic:
Musical instrument manufacturing  Search this
Piano makers  Search this
advertising -- History  Search this
Keyboard instruments  Search this
Piano  Search this
advertising  Search this
Genre/Form:
Photographs -- 20th century
Sales catalogs
Photographic prints
Advertisements
Photographs -- 1850-1900
Scrapbooks
Clippings
Journals (accounts)
Ledgers (account books)
Citation:
Sohmer & Co. Records, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
Identifier:
NMAH.AC.0349
See more items in:
Sohmer & Co. Records
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ep835d3556b-26b5-4ae0-90bc-8c018159dbb3
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmah-ac-0349
Online Media:

Agency history, 1980-1994

Creator:
National Museum of American History (U.S.) Department of Social and Cultural History  Search this
Subject:
Kulik, Gary  Search this
Crouch, Tom D  Search this
Crew, Spencer R. 1949-  Search this
Golovin, Anne Castrodale  Search this
Harris, Elizabeth M  Search this
Kidwell, Claudia Brush  Search this
National Museum of American History (U.S.) National Numismatic Collection  Search this
National Museum of American History (U.S.) National Philatelic Collection  Search this
National Museum of American History (U.S.) Division of Graphic Arts  Search this
National Museum of American History (U.S.) Division of Musical History  Search this
National Museum of American History (U.S.) Division of Musical Instruments  Search this
National Museum of American History (U.S.) Department of Social and National History  Search this
National Museum of American History (U.S.) Division of Political History  Search this
National Museum of American History (U.S.) Division of Ceramics and Glass  Search this
National Museum of American History (U.S.) Division of Costume  Search this
National Museum of American History (U.S.) Division of Domestic Life  Search this
National Museum of American History (U.S.) Division of Community Life  Search this
National Museum of American History (U.S.) Division of Textiles  Search this
National Museum of American History (U.S.) Department of Cultural History  Search this
National Museum of American History (U.S.) Department of National History  Search this
National Museum of American History (U.S.) Department of the History of Science and Technology  Search this
National Museum of American History (U.S.) Division of Photographic History  Search this
Type:
Mixed archival materials
Date:
1980
1980-1994
Topic:
Social history  Search this
Historical museums  Search this
Museum curators  Search this
Local number:
SIA AH00113
Data Source:
Smithsonian Institution Archives
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_arc_217766

Tony Alderman Country Music Collection

Creator:
Alderman, Alonzo (Tony) Elvis, 1900-1983 (musician)  Search this
Names:
Hill Billies (Musical group)  Search this
Old Fiddlers' Convention  Search this
Stoneman, Ernest V.  Search this
Former owner:
National Museum of American History (U.S.). Division of Community Life  Search this
National Museum of American History (U.S.). Division of Musical Instruments  Search this
Extent:
4 Cubic feet (5 boxes)
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Correspondence
Audiotapes
Clippings
Papers
Sheet music
Date:
1927-1983
Summary:
Alonzo Elvis "Tony" Alderman played country music with the Galax Dixie Concert Band and The Hill Billies. During the 1950s through 1970s he recorded old-time and early country music, primarily at festivals and conventions. Alderman recorded many of the open-reel audiotapes in the collection at the Old Time Fiddlers Convention in Galax, Virginia.
Scope and Contents:
The collection is divided into two series. Series one contains 98 1/4" open reel audiotapes primarily of the Galax Fiddler's Convention (1959-1963) made by Tony Alderman and three audio disc recordings. Series two contains manuscript materials including bills and receipts, correspondence, sheet music, newspaper clippings, performance announcements, and publications.
Arrangement:
The collection is organized into two series.

Series 1, Audiovisual, 1950-circa 1970

Series 2, Manuscript Materials, 1927-1976
Biographical / Historical:
Alonzo Elvis "Tony" Alderman, (1900-1983) was introduced to old-time music at an early age by his relatives in Galax, Virginia. Alderman learned to play trumpet, French horn, and, inspired by Earnest "Pop" Stoneman, the country fiddle. He first performed publicly with the Galax Dixie Concert (brass)Band.

In the late spring of 1924, he formed a group with John Rector, Al Hopkins, and Joe Hopkins. Rector convinced the band to record a record. Unfortunately, due to technical problems the recording session was unsuccessful.

Undaunted, the quartet travelled to OKeh Studios in January of 1925 where they recorded six songs under the supervision of Ralph Peer. When Peer asked the band's name Al Hopkins replied, "We're nothing but a bunch of hill billies from North Carolina and Virginia. Call us anything." Reportedly Inspired by his reply, Peer named the group "The Hill Billies."

"The Hill Billies" released their first record in February 1925. In May of that year while performing at a fiddler's convention sponsored by the Ku Klux Klan in Montana, Tennesee, they recruited Charlie Bowman from Gray Station, Tennessee to join them. Later that year 'The Hill Billies' left OKeh and joined the Combined Vocalion Brunswick Company to work with artist and repertoire man Jim O'Keefe. On the Vocalion label the band's name remained the same, but on the Brunswick label it changed to "Al Hopkins and His Buckle Busters."

For the next several years, the "Pine Hill Billies" performed across the country, made several more records, and broadcast on WRC radio in Washington, D.C. After the group disbanded in 1932,Tony Alderman moved to Washington, D.C. to work as an x-ray technician, as well as an investor, and he experimented with aerial photography.

In 1970, Alderman retired to Golden Beach in St. Mary's County, Maryland. He joined the "Over the Hill Gang" and played at local celebrations, including solos for the National Council for Traditional Arts festivals, the Smithsonian Institution's Festival of American Folklife, and various holiday celebrations held by the Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of American History.
Related Materials:
University of North Carolina. Southern Folklife Collection

Letter. Tony Alderman to Archie Green, 1961. Archie Green Collection (#20002).
Restrictions:
Collection is open for research. Only reference copies of the audiotapes and audio discs may be used.
Rights:
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Topic:
Country music  Search this
Music -- Performance  Search this
Musical saw music  Search this
Musicians  Search this
Genre/Form:
Correspondence -- 1930-1950
Audiotapes
Clippings
Papers
Sheet music
Citation:
Tony Alderman Country Music Collection, 1927-1976, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution.
Identifier:
NMAH.AC.0211
See more items in:
Tony Alderman Country Music Collection
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ep8113fefca-fadf-48df-86c6-7ff0749315c7
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmah-ac-0211

Scott Odell at Work

Author:
Nielsen, Kim  Search this
Subject:
National Museum of American History (U.S.) (NMAH)  Search this
National Museum of American History (U.S.) Division of Musical Instruments  Search this
National Museum of History and Technology (U.S.)  Search this
Physical description:
Color: Black and White; Size: 10w x 8h; Type of Image: Person, candid; Medium: Photographic print
Type:
Photographic print
Person, candid
Date:
1982
Topic:
Odell, Jay Scott  Search this
Restoration  Search this
Smithsonian Institution--Employees  Search this
Zither  Search this
Musical instruments  Search this
Standard number:
82-1125-36A
Restrictions & Rights:
No restrictions
Data Source:
Smithsonian Archives - History Div
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sic_8830

Postcard of Painting of an Organ

Author:
Eichenfield, Lisa Compton  Search this
Subject:
Hoover, Cynthia A (Cynthia Adams)  Search this
Crace, Frederick 1779-1859  Search this
Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum  Search this
National Museum of American History (U.S.) Division of Musical Instruments  Search this
Physical description:
Number of Images: 2; Color: Color; Size: 5.9w x 4.1h; Type of Image: Postcard; Medium: Paper
Type:
Postcard
Paper
Date:
September 25, 1978
Topic:
Postcard  Search this
Organs  Search this
Musical instruments  Search this
Art  Search this
Painting  Search this
Standard number:
SIA2013-07741 (front) and SIA2013-07742 (back)
Restrictions & Rights:
No restrictions
Data Source:
Smithsonian Archives - History Div
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sic_13966
Online Media:

Postcard of Organ at Klosterkirche St. Urban

Author:
Unknown  Search this
Subject:
Fesperman, John T  Search this
National Museum of American History (U.S.) Division of Musical Instruments  Search this
National Museum of History and Technology (U.S.)  Search this
Physical description:
Number of Images: 2; Color: Color; Size: 5.8w x 4.1h; Type of Image: Postcard; Medium: Paper
Type:
Postcard
Paper
Place:
Switzerland
Date:
July 24, 1968
Topic:
Postcard  Search this
Organs  Search this
Musical instruments  Search this
Church buildings  Search this
Standard number:
SIA2013-07735 (front) and SIA2013-07736 (back)
Restrictions & Rights:
No restrictions
Data Source:
Smithsonian Archives - History Div
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sic_14019
Online Media:

Postcard of Organ at La Chaise-Dieu

Author:
Unknown  Search this
Subject:
Fesperman, John T  Search this
National Museum of History and Technology (U.S.)  Search this
National Museum of American History (U.S.) Division of Musical Instruments  Search this
Physical description:
Number of Images: 2; Color: Color; Size: 4.1w x 5.9h; Type of Image: Postcard; Medium: Paper
Type:
Postcard
Paper
Place:
France
Date:
July 1, 1968
Topic:
Postcard  Search this
Church buildings  Search this
Organs  Search this
Musical instruments  Search this
Standard number:
SIA2013-07737 (front) and SIA2013-07738 (back)
Restrictions & Rights:
No restrictions
Data Source:
Smithsonian Archives - History Div
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sic_14020
Online Media:

Postcard of Organ at Oude Kerk Amsterdam

Author:
Unknown  Search this
Subject:
Fesperman, John T  Search this
National Museum of American History (U.S.) Division of Musical Instruments  Search this
National Museum of History and Technology (U.S.)  Search this
Physical description:
Number of Images: 2; Color: Black and White; Size: 3.5w x 5.4h; Type of Image: Postcard; Medium: Paper
Type:
Postcard
Paper
Place:
Netherlands
Date:
August 13, 1965
Topic:
Postcard  Search this
Organs  Search this
Musical instruments  Search this
Church buildings  Search this
Standard number:
SIA2013-07739 (front) and SIA2013-07740 (back)
Restrictions & Rights:
No restrictions
Data Source:
Smithsonian Archives - History Div
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sic_14021
Online Media:

Postcard of Organ at St. Michaelskerk

Author:
Unknown  Search this
Subject:
Fesperman, John T  Search this
National Museum of American History (U.S.) Division of Musical Instruments  Search this
National Museum of History and Technology (U.S.)  Search this
Physical description:
Number of Images: 2; Color: Color; Size: 4.1w x 5.625h; Type of Image: Postcard; Medium: Paper
Type:
Postcard
Paper
Place:
Netherlands
Date:
1976
Topic:
Postcard  Search this
Organs  Search this
Musical instruments  Search this
Music  Search this
Church buildings  Search this
Standard number:
SIA2013-07743 (front) and SIA2013-07744 (back)
Restrictions & Rights:
No restrictions
Data Source:
Smithsonian Archives - History Div
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sic_14022
Online Media:

Postcard to James Weaver

Author:
Tarr, Edward H  Search this
Subject:
Weaver, James Merle  Search this
National Museum of American History (U.S.) Division of Musical Instruments  Search this
Museum of History and Technology (U.S.)  Search this
National Museum of History and Technology (U.S.)  Search this
Physical description:
Number of Images: 2; Color: Color; Size: 5.9w x 4.1h; Type of Image: Postcard; Medium: Paper
Type:
Postcard
Paper
Date:
May 14, 1969
Topic:
Postcard  Search this
Standard number:
SIA2013-07745 (front) and SIA2013-07746 (back)
Restrictions & Rights:
No restrictions
Data Source:
Smithsonian Archives - History Div
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sic_14023
Online Media:

Leedy Manufacturing Co. Photograph Album

Creator:
Leedy Manufacturing Co.  Search this
Former owner:
National Museum of American History (U.S.). Division of Musical Instruments  Search this
Names:
Leedy, Ulysses G., 1867-1931  Search this
Extent:
0.15 Cubic feet (1 box)
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Albums
Photographs
Place:
Indianapolis (Ind.) -- 1920-1930
Date:
circa 1925
Summary:
Photograph album documenting the Leedy Manufacturing Company, a maker of precussion instruments.
Scope and Contents:
This album documents the Leedy Manufacturing Co.'s production of a variety of percussion musical instruments, such as drums, tympani, xylophones, vibraphones, etc. There is a group portrait of the executive staff, assembled near the door of the plant: it is marked "Indianapolis" and "1925," along with the names "Leedy," [George H.] "Way," "Elsie Way," "Kuerst," and "Winterhoff." The work force stands outside the factory in another image, and interiors depict office scenes and manufacturing stages for several types of instruments. Machine shops and other work areas show workers and craftsmen operating belt-driven machine tools, lathes, drill presses, stamping presses, saws, etc. Storage areas for lumber and hides (for drum heads) are shown, as well as stock rooms for finished instruments and packing and shipping operations. The album contains 38 silver gelatin photoprints mounted on canvas pages, 6-3/4" x 10-3/4", several imprinted "Hoosier Photo Co." The album cover is plain and untitled.
Arrangement:
One album of photographs. Photographs unarranged; they were separated from the album covers and the original image order, which did not seem significant, was not preserved.
Biographical / Historical:
As a child, Ulysses G. Leedy (1867-1931) bought his first drum from a Civil War drummer near his home in Fostoria, Ohio, and played for coins near the Baltimore & Ohio railroad station. He joined the 15th regimental drum corps in Ohio at age 14 and the Fostoria town band and orchestra at 18. Later, he became a member of the Great Western Band and was featured on drums and xylophone. He traveled widely as a musician and realizing the need that he and other percussionists had for a snare drum stand, he invented the first practical folding snare drum stand in 1890. Also in 1890, Leedy purchased parts from various manufacturers and made his first drum with the assistance of his father, a cabinet maker. After taking a position with an Indianapolis theater orchestra, he concurrently manufactured and sold drums, obtaining the wooden shells from his father and assembling drums in his basement.

Eventually Leedy resigned his theater position in order to devote his full attention to his burgeoning manufacturing business. In 1895 he and Sam Cooley, a clarinetist from the same orchestra, pooled $50.00 each and began to make Leedy drums, at first under the name of Leedy & Cooley , then the Leedy Manufacturing Company. The original factory was established in a room of the Cyclorama Building in Indianapolis. The firm prospered and a variety of instruments gradually were added to its product line. In 1902 Herman Winterhoff, a cellist, trombonist, and theater orchestra colleague, joined Leedy and Cooley to tune bells and xylophones, and Leroy Jeffries was hired as a mechanic and designer.

Leedy became sole owner in 1903. A brick factory building was erected in Indianapolis in 1903, but the rapidly expanding firm soon outgrew this facility and a three-story concrete building was erected adjacent to it in 1910. In 1920 the first building was razed and additions were made to the second building. By 1927 the expanded Leedy factory contained 78,450 square feet of space.

In 1916 Winterhoff, then a vice-president of the firm, began experimental work on vibrating tones in the steel marimba (Marimbaphone) and produced a device called the Vibratone, which had two rows of resonators moving up and down alternately. This and another model, with butterfly fans in the tops of the resonators which rocked back and forth in a semicircle, were unsuccessful due to noise. Finally in the 1920's Winterhoff and the Leedy engineers devised a practical instrument with rotating fans in the resonators which made complete, even revolutions. This Vibraphone, as it was called, soon became a familiar instrument in dance bands. The company's failure to realize the professional potential of this instrument led to the introduction of copies of the unpatented design by competitors.

The firm's line expanded to over 900 items, including sound-effect instruments for silent films. The most important products were the tympani designed by factory superintendent Cecil Strupe (patented 1923), using a foot pedal with a ratchet-and-pawl system clutch, linked to cables connected to the tensioning screws, with copper bowls formed in a hydraulic press.

C. G. Conn Co. Ltd., a leading band instrument manufacturer in Elkhart, Indiana, the "band instrument capital of the world," acquired control of Leedy in 1929, and in 1930 Leedy's operations were moved to Elkhart. The production of "Leedy" instruments was discontinued in 1958.

Sources

1. J-Leedy Mfg. Co., Inc. "Fifty Years of Drum Progress." Elkhart, Ind., 1945. Photocopy in Division of Musical Instruments. This publication contains several reproductions of images from the album as well as similar pictures not found in the album.

2. Leedy publications, including the catalog above, give 1895 as the date of the firm's inception, although 1900 is cited in the article on Leedy Manufacturing Co. by Edmund A. Bowles in: Stanley Sadie, ed. The New Grove Dictionary of Musical Instruments. New York: Grove's Dictionaries of Music, 1984, Vol. 2, p. 512. Perhaps 1900 was the date of incorporation under the Leedy Manufacturing Co. name.

3. Leedy, op. cit ., p. 2

4. Bowles, op. cit

5. Ibid. Again, Bowles disagrees with Leedy company publications, stating that the Conn purchase occurred in 1927. The Leedy catalogs presumably are more reliable. Other articles in The New Grove Dictionary of Musical Instruments provide additional information about connections between Leedy and other firms: Bowles, "Ludwig," Vol. 2, p. 543; Bowles, "Slingerland Drum Co., Vol. 3, p.405; and Carolyn Bryant, "Conn," Vol 1, p. 473.

6. Small captioned portrait of George H. Way in Leedy Mfg. Co., Inc. Leedy. World's Finest Drummers' Instruments, Catalog T. Elkhart, Ind. [1933], p. 1. Catalog in Warshaw Collection, National Museum of American History Archives Center. Cf . group portrait in album.
Provenance:
Purchased in 1985 from Keith Douglas de Lellis.
Restrictions:
Collection is open for research.
Rights:
Probably public domain due to expired copyrights. SI Negative Nos. 86-403 to 86-440. Fees for commercial use.
Topic:
Drums -- 1920-1930  Search this
Marimbaphones -- 1920-1930  Search this
Manufacturing -- 1920-1930  Search this
Craftsmen -- 1920-1930  Search this
Xylophones -- 1920-1930  Search this
Musical instruments -- 1920-1930  Search this
Genre/Form:
Albums -- 1920-1930
Photographs -- Black-and-white photoprints -- Silver gelatin -- 1920-1930
Citation:
Leedy Manufacturing Co. Photograph Album, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
Identifier:
NMAH.AC.0188
See more items in:
Leedy Manufacturing Co. Photograph Album
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ep8488d9f0b-f759-4174-ab86-eb047a4764d9
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmah-ac-0188

Adrien-Francois Servais Papers

Author:
Servais, Joseph  Search this
Collector:
Servais, Adrien-Francois, 1807-1866 (musician)  Search this
National Museum of American History (U.S.). Division of Musical Instruments  Search this
Names:
Fishoff, Joseph  Search this
Extent:
0.5 Cubic feet (1 box)
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Correspondence
Lithographs
Photographs
Date:
1842-1884
Summary:
Five letters of Adrien-Francois Servais, a nineteenth century cellist, pioneer in the use of the endpin in performance, and owner of the "Servais" Stradivarius cello.
Scope and Contents:
Five letters of Adrien-Francois Servais, describing his personal experiences as he traveled and gave concerts, including three from his son Joseph Servais (1850-1885), dated September 7, 1871, June 7, 1877, and December 30, 1884. Also includes a photograph of Adrien-Francois Servais with cello with an endpin and a lithograph of Francois Servais, signed and dedicated to Joseph Fishoff.
Biographical / Historical:
Adrien-Francois Servais was among the first of the nineteenth century virtuosi whose exploration of the capabilities of the cello stimulated composers to consider that instrument's capabilities. Renowned for his acrobatic technique, which dazzled audiences throughout Europe, and his expressive style and powerful tone, Servais was once described as "the Paganini of the cello."
Provenance:
Collection donated by Miss Charlotte Bergen, 1981.
Restrictions:
Collection is open for research.
Rights:
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Topic:
Musicians -- 1830-1880  Search this
Cello  Search this
Musical instruments  Search this
Genre/Form:
Correspondence -- 19th century
Lithographs -- 19th century
Photographs -- 1850-1900
Citation:
Adrien-Francois Servais Papers, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
Identifier:
NMAH.AC.0195
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ep82b6d2562-ef41-4ac4-8d3b-f3e71a235696
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmah-ac-0195

Helen May Butler Collection

Creator:
Young, Helen May Butler  Search this
Names:
Helen May Butler's Ladies Military Band.  Search this
United States. Congress. Senate -- 1930-1940  Search this
Butler, Helen May  Search this
Former owner:
National Museum of American History (U.S.). Division of Musical Instruments  Search this
Extent:
1 Cubic foot (3 boxes, one oversize folder)
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Programs
Scrapbooks
Sheet music
Correspondence
Advertising fliers
Postcards
Posters
Clippings
Photographs
Place:
Saint Louis (Mo.) -- 1890-1920
Boston (Mass.)
Charleston (S.C.)
Buffalo (N.Y.)
Date:
1899-1937
bulk 1902-1902
Scope and Contents:
The materials cover the career of a woman bandmaster with an all women's traveling military band from 1898-1913, with the bulk of the material ca. 1902. Contents include clippings, photographs, programs, sheet music, hand noted music, posters, post cards, advertising fliers, letters, telegram, biographical article announcing candidacy for U.S. Senate seat in 1936, and "The Flood of 1937" section of the Cincinnati Post, February 13, 1937. Bands included Helen May Butler's Ladies Military Band, Talma Ladies Orchestra, U.S. Talma Ladies Military Band.
Arrangement:
The collection is arranged into one series.
Biographical / Historical:
Helen May Butler, woman bandmaster, directed an all-women traveling military band from 1898 to 1913. "Music for the American people, by American composers, played by American girls" was one of the band's mottoes. Born in New Hamphire in 1873, she pursued a variety of musical studies and became an accomplished performer in both violin and cornet. She announced candidacy for a U.S. Senate seat in 1936.
Provenance:
Collections donated by Helen May Butler Young, June 1962.
Restrictions:
Collection is open for research.
Rights:
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Topic:
Women musicians -- 1890-1920  Search this
Bands (Music) -- 1890-1920  Search this
Bandmasters -- 1890-1920  Search this
advertising  Search this
Music -- Performance -- 1890-1920  Search this
Musicians -- 1890-1920  Search this
Floods  Search this
Brass bands -- 1890-1920  Search this
Genre/Form:
Programs
Scrapbooks
Sheet music
Correspondence -- 1930-1950
Advertising fliers -- 1890-1920
Postcards
Posters -- 1880-1900
Clippings -- 1890-1920
Photographs -- 1900-1950
Citation:
Helen May Butler Collection, 1899-1937, Archives Center, National Museum of American History
Identifier:
NMAH.AC.0261
See more items in:
Helen May Butler Collection
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ep87154ddaa-d4cc-4d1c-9023-e2158eab4075
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmah-ac-0261
Online Media:

James Stutsman Band Book Collection

Collector:
Stutsman, James  Search this
National Museum of American History (U.S.). Division of Musical Instruments  Search this
Names:
Maurer, Fred  Search this
Maurer, J.B.  Search this
Extent:
0.15 Cubic feet (1 box)
Container:
Box 1
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Sheet music
Place:
Wilton Junction (Iowa)
Date:
1875
Scope and Contents:
The set consists of nine books with a fragment of a tenth which seems not to be related to the other nine. Eight of the nine books, which are basically intact, offer a complete enough assortment to produce a usable performance set. The 1st althorn is missing, but the 2nd alto is present. Also, possibly missing are: 2nd Eb cornet, 2nd Bb tenor, and the snare drum.

The books include: Bass drum; 2nd Bb cornet; IInd Eb Alto; Eb Bass; IInd Bb cornet; ist Eb cornet; Bb Bass; ist Bb tenor; and Ist Bb cornet.
Biographical / Historical:
This is a set of manuscript brass band parts used by a municipal band in Wilton Junction, Iowa. It was bought by the father of the donor at a local auction in Wilton Junction. Most of the books are signed "Fred Maurer's Book," and one is signed "J. B. Maurer's Book". Presumably, Mr. Fred Maurer was the leader and/or arranger.
Provenance:
This collection was purchased from James Stutsman, 1984. The donor acquired this material from his father, who bought it at an auction in Wilton Junction, Iowa.
Restrictions:
Collection is open for research.
Rights:
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Topic:
Music  Search this
Musicians -- 1870-1880  Search this
Bands (Music) -- 1870-1880  Search this
Band, Municipal  Search this
Musical performances  Search this
Musical instruments  Search this
Genre/Form:
Sheet music -- Manuscripts -- 19th century
Citation:
Item title and date, James Stutsman Band Book Collection, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution.
Identifier:
NMAH.AC.0258
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ep8c304c3fb-7fed-42b3-89b7-7db79d99d0ac
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmah-ac-0258

Curatorial Records, 1933-2017

Creator:
National Museum of American History (U.S.) Division of Culture and the Arts  Search this
Subject:
Fesperman, John T  Search this
Hoover, Cynthia A (Cynthia Adams)  Search this
Sturm, Gary  Search this
Wedderburn, Alexander J  Search this
Ostroff, Eugene  Search this
Griffith, Fuller  Search this
Olmsted, Arthur J  Search this
Kainen, Jacob  Search this
Delaney, Michelle Anne  Search this
Grassick, Mary K  Search this
Perich, Shannon Thomas  Search this
Haberstich, David  Search this
Hasse, John Edward 1948-  Search this
National Museum of American History (U.S.) Division of Music, Sports, and Entertainment  Search this
National Museum of American History (U.S.) Division of Musical History  Search this
National Museum of American History (U.S.) Division of Musical Instruments  Search this
National Museum of History and Technology Division of Musical Instruments  Search this
National Museum of American History (U.S.) Division of Cultural History  Search this
Physical description:
11 cu. ft. processed holdings
23.08 cu. ft. unprocessed holdings
Type:
Manuscripts
Audiotapes
Color photographs
Black-and-white photographs
Color transparencies
Black-and-white transparencies
Brochures
Clippings
Floor plans
Phonograph records
Video recordings
Electronic records
Digital images
Color negatives
Black-and-white negatives
Compact discs
Digital versatile discs
Electronic mail
Date:
1933
1933-2017
Topic:
Musical instruments  Search this
Music--History  Search this
Budget  Search this
Museum curators  Search this
Museums--Collection management  Search this
Photography--History  Search this
Professional associations  Search this
Congresses and conventions  Search this
Speeches, addresses, etc  Search this
Museums--Public relations  Search this
Committees  Search this
Gifts  Search this
Local number:
SIA RS00540
Restrictions & Rights:
Materials less than 15 years old Restricted. Records may contain personally identifiable information (PII) that is permanently restricted. Contact reference staff for details
See more items in:
Curatorial Records 1933-2017 [National Museum of American History (U.S.) Division of Culture and the Arts]
Data Source:
Smithsonian Institution Archives
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_arc_220023

Dizzy Gillespie Donates Trumpet to NMAH

Subject:
Gillespie, Dizzy 1917-  Search this
National Museum of American History (U.S.) Division of Musical Instruments  Search this
National Museum of American History (U.S.) (NMAH)  Search this
Date:
October, 1986
Topic:
Celebrities  Search this
Gifts  Search this
Musical instruments  Search this
Data Source:
Smithsonian Archives - History Div
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sic_2016

Concerts at NMNH, NMHT and HMSG

Subject:
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden  Search this
National Museum of American History (U.S.) Division of Musical Instruments  Search this
National Museum of American History (U.S.) (NMAH)  Search this
National Museum of History and Technology (U.S.)  Search this
National Museum of Natural History (U.S.)  Search this
Division of Performing Arts  Search this
Smithsonian Chamber Players  Search this
Date:
November, 1976
Topic:
Concerts  Search this
Jazz  Search this
Data Source:
Smithsonian Archives - History Div
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sic_949

An exhibition of American violin makers before 1930 / Gary Sturm, William L. Monical

Author:
Sturm, Gary  Search this
Monical, William L  Search this
American Federation of Violin and Bow Makers  Search this
National Museum of American History (U.S.) Division of Musical Instruments  Search this
Physical description:
ix, 57 p. ; 28 cm
Type:
Exhibitions
Date:
1987
[c1987]
Topic:
Violin makers  Search this
Bowed stringed instruments  Search this
Musical instruments--Construction  Search this
Call number:
ML811 .S93 1987
ML811.S93 1987
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_330905

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