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Sohmer & Company, trade literature

Container:
Box 1, Folder 6
Type:
Archival materials
Date:
1872
Collection Restrictions:
Collection is open for research.
Collection 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.
Collection Citation:
John R. Anderson Piano Trade Literature and Ephemera Collection, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
See more items in:
John R. Anderson Piano Trade Literature and Ephemera Collection
John R. Anderson Piano Trade Literature and Ephemera Collection / Series 1: Piano Trade Literature and Ephemera
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ep888b7e29a-5018-4630-b514-c9c97f8348bb
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nmah-ac-1257-ref768

Sohmer & Company, research notes

Container:
Box 14, Folder 1
Type:
Archival materials
Date:
1890-2006
Collection Restrictions:
Collection is open for research.
Collection 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.
Collection Citation:
John R. Anderson Piano Trade Literature and Ephemera Collection, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
See more items in:
John R. Anderson Piano Trade Literature and Ephemera Collection
John R. Anderson Piano Trade Literature and Ephemera Collection / Series 3: Research Notes
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ep81b46b7b1-4c1c-4fad-9eac-b7f115de78ec
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nmah-ac-1257-ref873

Wurlitzer Company Records

Creator:
Rudolph Wurlitzer Company  Search this
Names:
All-American Mohawk Company  Search this
Apollo Piano Company  Search this
Beach-Carlisle Violin Company  Search this
Caldwell Piano Company  Search this
Central Discount Company  Search this
Dayton Photo Products Company  Search this
DeKalb Piano Company  Search this
Dekleist Musical Instruments Company  Search this
Deutsch Wurlitzer  Search this
Eagle Radio Company  Search this
Everett Piano Company  Search this
Fox Theatres Corporation  Search this
Lyric Piano Company  Search this
Milner Music Company  Search this
Morsatti, Inc.  Search this
North Tonawanda Barrel Organ Company  Search this
Robert L. Loud Music Company  Search this
Rudolph Wurlitzer Company  Search this
Southern Ohio Radio Corporation  Search this
Western Industries Corporation  Search this
Wunderlich Piano Company  Search this
Wurlbild Corporation  Search this
Wurlitzer Acceptance Corporation  Search this
Wurlitzer Company  Search this
Wurlitzer Company of California  Search this
Wurlitzer Grand Piano Company  Search this
Youngstown Music Company  Search this
Rolfing, R.C.  Search this
Wurlitzer, Farny  Search this
Wurlitzer, Rembert  Search this
Wurlitzer, Rudolph  Search this
Extent:
56 Cubic feet
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Minute books
Account books
Financial records
Stock records
Reports
Advertisements
Sales records
Audits
Cashbooks
Ledgers (account books)
Annual reports
Photographs
Journals (accounts)
Price lists
Trade catalogs
Publications
Employee records
Marketing records
Commercial catalogs
Place:
DeKalb (Ill.)
North Tonawanda (N.Y.)
Corinth (Miss.)
Cincinnati (Ohio)
Date:
1860-1984
Summary:
The collection documents the history and development of the Wurlitzer Company and consists of company publications, business records, employee files, manufacturing records, sales and marketing records, product information, publicity, advertising, photographs, audiovisual materials, and organ installation drawings.
Scope and Contents:
The collection documents the history and the development of the Wurlitzer Company. Materials include company publications, business records, employee files, manufacturing records, sales and marketing records, product information, publicity, advertising, photographs, audiovisual materials, and organ installation drawings. The material in the collection spans from 1856-1986, although information prior to 1899 is sparse.
Arrangement:
The Collection is arranged into fourteen series.

Series 1: Wurlitzer Company Histories, Company Events, and General Business Materials, circa 1880-1987; undated

Series 2: Publications, 1910-1989; undated

Series 3: Advertising and Promotional Materials, 1911-1978

Series 4: Product Information, 1860-1984; undated

Series 5: Photographs of Wurlitzer Manufacturing Plants, Employees, Stores, and Dealerships, 1869-1970; undated

Series 6: Photographs of Wurlitzer Products and Product Sales Promotions, 1900-1978; undated

Series 7, Photographs Used in Wurlitzer Advertising and Public Relations, 1904-1970; undated

Series 8: Wurlitzer Employee Records and Related Materials, 1909-1961; undated

Series 9: Production and Shipping Records, 1905-1987

Series 10: Shipping and Sales Records for Wurlitzer Dealerships, Wurlitzer Retail Stores, and Rembert Wurlitzer, Incorporated, 1917-1952

Series 11, Records of Stock Certificates, Meeting Minutes, and Related Financial and Legal Documents, 1907-1972

Series 12, Rudolph Wurlitzer Company Financial Records, 1893-1986

Series 13, Maps and Charts, 1931-1976

Series 14, Organ Installation Drawings, 1920-1931; undated
Historical Note:
The Wurlitzer Company began in 1856 when Rudolph Wurlitzer, a Cincinnati bank clerk, sold seven hundred dollars worth of musical instruments he had bought from family and friends in Germany. The busi¬ness was incorporated in Ohio in 1890 under the name the Ru¬dolph Wurlitzer Company." For the first fifty years, Wurlitzer was primarily a retail instrument business operating out of its Cincinnati Store headquarters. Although fire destroyed the com¬pany's headquarters in 1904, a new building was completed in time to celebrate Wurlitzer's fiftieth anniversary in 1906.

In 1908, the Wurlitzer Company bought the DeKleist Musical In¬strument Manufacturing Company in North Tonawanda, New York. The Rudolph Wurlitzer Manufacturing Company continued produc¬tion of automatic musical instruments including player pianos, military bands and pianorchestras. In 1910, the Wurlitzer Company bought the Hope-Jones Organ Company and began to manufacture unit-or¬chestra pipe organs at their North Tonawanda plant. These were pipe organs equipped with bells, gongs, horns and sirens. They became known as Mighty Wurlitzers and provided the musical back¬ground in silent movie houses all over the world and were also built for churches and private homes. In 1919, Wurlitzer bought the Melville-Clark Piano Company of DeKalb, Illinois. Wurlitzer pianos were then manufactured at the DeKalb facilities under a variety of names: the Apollo Piano Company, the DeKalb Piano Company and the Wurlitzer Grand Piano Company. Each name des¬ignated a different quality, price range and style.

With the decline of sales during the 1920s and 1930s, pro¬duction of automatic musical instruments ceased until the manu¬facture of the first jukebox in 1934. In 1930, the Julius Bauer Piano Company was purchased and continued to build pianos in that name until shortly before World War II. For a brief time, radios and refrigerators were made by the Wurlitzer controlled Air-Amer¬ican Mohawk Corporation. It was not a successful venture and ended in the mid-1930s. Many of the Wurlitzer retail stores were, at that time, in bad locations and needed repairs. The solutions to these problems came about with a reorganization of the company in 1935. With the reorganization, many retail stores were sold, piano manufacturing was consolidated in DeKalb and many subsidiaries were dissolved or absorbed completely into the Wurlitzer Company.

During World War II, Wurlitzer halted production of musical in¬struments. The company's defense production efforts were rec¬ognized in 1943 and 1944 when it is North Tonawanda and DeKalb plants received the Army-Navy "E" Award. In 1946, peacetime production resumed and the Wurlitzer Company introduced two new instruments: the electric organ in 1947 and the electric piano in 1954. In 1956, the Wurlitzer Company celebrated its centennial. That same year a new plant at Corinth, Mississippi, was completed. Later, plants were opened in Holly Springs, Mississippi (1961), Logan, Utah (1970) and Hullhorst, West Germany, (1960). The new facilities replaced those at North Tonawanda and DeKalb. The North Tonawanda plant ceased production of jukeboxes in 1974, becoming the company's engineering and research center. In 1973, the DeKalb plant ended production of pianos maintaining only mar¬keting and administrative offices. In 1977, the Wurlitzer Com¬pany's corporate headquarters moved to DeKalb, including the en¬gineering and research center from North Tonawanda.

Wurlitzer's three sons had assumed leadership of the company after his death in 1914. Each son acted as president then, chair of the board, successively. The company hired R.C. Rolfing in 1934 as vice-president and general manager. His re¬organization helped the company through the Depression years. Rolfing succeeded the last of the founder's sons in 1941 as pres¬ident of the company and in 1966 as chair of the board. Farny Wurlitzer, Rudolph's youngest son, died in 1972. A.D. Arsem succeeded Rolfing in 1974 as chair of the board. George B. Howell succeeded W. N. Herleman as president of the company.
Related Materials:
Materials in the Archives Center

Steinway & Sons Records and Family Papers, 1857-1919 (AC0178)

Chickering & Sons Piano Company Collection, 1864-1985 (AC0264)

Sohmer & Company Records, 1872-1989 (AC0349)

William J. Lenz Piano Tuning Collection, circa 1903-1955 (AC0511)

Janssen Piano Company Records, 1901-1929 (AC0512)

John R. Anderson Piano Trade Literature and Ephemera Collection, circa 1850-1990 (AC1257)

Warshaw Collection of Business America's Piano and Organ related materials (AC0060)
Provenance:
Collection donated by Northern Illinois University, and Regional History Center, 1994, November 11.
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:
Violin -- Manufacture  Search this
Radio -- Receivers and reception  Search this
Coin-operated machines  Search this
Accordion  Search this
Jukeboxes -- Manufacture  Search this
Harp -- Manufacture  Search this
Piano -- History  Search this
Player organ  Search this
Accordion -- Manufacture  Search this
Piano makers  Search this
Organ -- Manufacture  Search this
Organ -- History  Search this
Wurlitzer organ  Search this
Musical instrument makers  Search this
Mechanical organs  Search this
Mechanical musical instruments  Search this
Musical instruments  Search this
Genre/Form:
Minute books
Account books
Financial records
Stock records
Reports
Advertisements
Sales records
Audits
Cashbooks
Ledgers (account books)
Annual reports
Photographs -- 19th century
Journals (accounts)
Price lists
Trade catalogs
Publications
Employee records
Marketing records
Commercial catalogs
Citation:
Wurlitzer Company Records, 1860-1984, Archives Center, National Museum of American History
Identifier:
NMAH.AC.0469
See more items in:
Wurlitzer Company Records
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ep8b6b1ed59-da9e-468e-ae2e-8bcd065f8cb2
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmah-ac-0469
Online Media:

Warshaw Collection of Business Americana Subject Categories: Pianos

Creator:
Warshaw, Isadore, 1900-1969  Search this
Extent:
4.59 Cubic feet (consisting of 8 boxes, 2 half boxes, 5 folders, 7 oversize folders, 2 map case folders, 2 flat boxes (partial), plus digital images of some collection material. )
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Ephemera
Business ephemera
Date:
undated
1842-1965
Summary:
A New York bookseller, Warshaw assembled this collection over nearly fifty years. The Warshaw Collection of Business Americana: Pianos forms part of the Warshaw Collection of Business Americana, Subseries 1.1: Subject Categories. The Subject Categories subseries is divided into 470 subject categories based on those created by Mr. Warshaw. These subject categories include topical subjects, types or forms of material, people, organizations, historical events, and other categories. An overview to the entire Warshaw collection is available here: Warshaw Collection of Business Americana
Scope and Contents:
This collection consists primarily of advertising cards, business cards, bookmarks, printed advertisements, scattered correspondence on letterhead stationery, pamphlets, bills/receipts, trade catalogs, fans, photographs, patents, song books, articles and books from manufacturers and distributors of pianos and piano parts. There is a substantial amount of materials for each company especially for the bigger and better known piano manufacturers. A number of these companies also sold organs. Among the materials there is a small number of programs, hymn books and music books.

A large amount of the materials are images. Most of the images are of pianos and organs found primarily in the trade catalogues and on printed advertisements. The images on the printed advertisements are similar to those in the trade catalogues and include the same information such as dimensions of the piano, style name, price, type of wood frame, and attractive features. The piano is shown as a focal point of family life. Pianos are considered as important furnishings for the home. Manufacturers advertised pianos as companions and the source of inspiration, pleasure and entertainment. Images depicting women and family life are also particularly strong in this collection.

There are a number of publications which discuss the history of piano manufacturing companies. These publications are included with the company related materials. Other publications include primers, early American hymn books, instructions on how to play piano and old favorite songs.

The material is organized alphabetically by name of company. There are seven folders of material grouped by type: business cards, patents, shipping documents, clubs, schools, general images and shipping documents.
Brand Name Index:
Brand Name :: Company Name :: Type of Product

Beckwith :: Sears Roebuck & Co. :: Piano

Bijou :: Calenberg & Vaupel :: Piano

Bradbury :: F. G. Smith & Co. :: Piano

Capen :: Brockport Piano Mfg. Co. :: Piano

Conover :: Cable Co. :: Piano

Crown :: Geo. P. Bent Mfg. Co. :: Piano

Kingsbury :: Cable Co. :: Piano

Orchestrella :: Aeolian Company :: Piano

Pianola :: Aeolian Company :: Piano

Separable :: Calenberg & Vaupel :: Piano

Weber Pianola :: Aeolian Company :: Piano

Wellington :: Calenberg & Vaupel :: Piano
Materials in the Archives Center:
Archives Center Collection of Business Americana (AC0404)
Forms Part Of:
Forms part of the Warshaw Collection of Business Americana.

Missing Title

Series 1: Business Ephemera

Series 2: Other Collection Divisions

Series 3: Isadore Warshaw Personal Papers

Series 4: Photographic Reference Material
Related Materials:
Researchers interested in other collections in the Archives Center that relate to the manufacture of pianos and piano parts should consult the following collections:

Sohmer & Company Records, 1872-1989, Collection #349

Steinway Piano Company Collection, 1850-1906; 1953, Collection #178

Pratt-Read Corporation Records, 1839-1990, Collection #320

Chickering & Sons, 1823-1985, Collection #264

Wood & Brooks Company Records, ca. 1900-1960, Collection #457

Wurlitzer Company Records, 1864-1984, Collection #469

William Lenz Piano Tuning Collection, Collection #511
Provenance:
Pianos is a portion of the Business Ephemera Series of the Warshaw Collection of Business Americana, Accession AC0060 purchased from Isadore Warshaw in 1967. Warshaw continued to accumulate similar material until his death, which was donated in 1971 by his widow, Augusta. For a period after acquisition, related materials from other sources (of mixed provenance) were added to the collection so there may be content produced or published after Warshaw's death in 1969. This practice has since ceased.
Restrictions:
Collection is open for research. Some items may be restricted due to fragile condition.
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:
pianos  Search this
Piano makers  Search this
Genre/Form:
Ephemera
Business ephemera
Citation:
Warshaw Collection of Business Americana Subject Categories: Pianos, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution
Identifier:
NMAH.AC.0060.S01.01.Pianos
See more items in:
Warshaw Collection of Business Americana Subject Categories: Pianos
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ep8858e9075-921b-47a0-9831-86916aceccc7
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmah-ac-0060-s01-01-pianos
Online Media:

John R. Anderson Piano Trade Literature and Ephemera Collection

Names:
John Broadwood and Sons Limited  Search this
Mason & Hamlin  Search this
Sohmer & Company  Search this
Steinway & Sons  Search this
Weber Piano Company  Search this
Wm. Knabe & Co.  Search this
Former owner:
Anderson, John R.  Search this
Extent:
6 Cubic feet (14 boxes, 1 map folder)
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Notes
Pamphlets
Manuals
Ledgers (account books)
Ephemera
Brochures
Advertising cards
Advertisements
Price lists
Photographs
Trade catalogs
Trade cards
Date:
circa 1700-2011, undated
Content Description:
The addendum consists of trade literaure and ephemera on the subject of pianos.
Arrangement:
The collection is arranged into three series.

Series 1: Piano Trade Literature and Ephemera, 1850-1990, undated

Series 2: Photographs, undated

Series 3: Research Notes, 1700-2011, undated
Biographical / Historical:
A retired government employee, Anderson is a piano enthusiast and collector. He conducted extensive research on early piano makers.
Related Materials:
Materials in the Archives Center

Pratt, Read Corporation Records (NMAH.AC.0320)

Sohmer and Company Records (NMAH.AC.0349)

Steinway & Sons Records and Family Papers (NMAH.AC.0178)

Wurlitzler Company Records (NMAH.AC.0469)

South Carolina Historical Society

Siegling Music House Records, 1820-1972
Provenance:
The collection was donated by John R. Anderson in 2011.
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.
Occupation:
Musical instrument makers  Search this
Topic:
Piano -- History  Search this
Organ (Musical instrument)  Search this
Musical instruments  Search this
Harpsichord makers  Search this
Harpsichord  Search this
Piano makers  Search this
Research  Search this
Postcards  Search this
Genre/Form:
Notes
Pamphlets
Manuals
Ledgers (account books)
Ephemera
Brochures
Advertising cards
Advertisements
Price lists
Photographs -- 20th century
Trade catalogs
Trade cards
Citation:
John R. Anderson Piano Trade Literature and Ephemera Collection, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
Identifier:
NMAH.AC.1257
See more items in:
John R. Anderson Piano Trade Literature and Ephemera Collection
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ep8d76e940a-676b-41e8-91c7-fdb8612e42c2
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmah-ac-1257

Fifth Avenue Association

Collection Creator:
Jacques Seligmann & Co  Search this
Container:
Box 36, Folder 11
Type:
Archival materials
Date:
1923-1936
Collection Restrictions:
Use of original papers requires an appointment.
Collection Rights:
The Archives of American Art makes its archival collections available for non-commercial, educational and personal use unless restricted by copyright and/or donor restrictions, including but not limited to access and publication restrictions. AAA makes no representations concerning such rights and restrictions and it is the user's responsibility to determine whether rights or restrictions exist and to obtain any necessary permission to access, use, reproduce and publish the collections. Please refer to the Smithsonian's Terms of Use for additional information.
Collection Citation:
Jacques Seligmann & Co. records, 1904-1978, bulk 1913-1974. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
See more items in:
Jacques Seligmann & Co. records
Jacques Seligmann & Co. records / Series 1: Correspondence / 1.3: General Correspondence
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/mw92dda3a63-c94b-4626-87f3-dd4890b046a7
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-aaa-jacqself-ref9706
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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:

Notebook of Photo Prints of pianos

Collection Author:
Falcone Custom Grand Pianos  Search this
Collection Donor:
Pratt, Read and Company  Search this
Collection Creator:
Sohmer & Company  Search this
Container:
Box 11, Folder 5
Type:
Archival materials
Date:
1934-1955
Collection Restrictions:
Collection is open for research.
Collection is open for research.
Collection 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.
Collection Citation:
Sohmer & Co. Records, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
See more items in:
Sohmer & Co. Records
Sohmer & Co. Records / Series 8: Photographs
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ep8bd0ec979-4b9c-4e2b-b6d9-3fca2da36b68
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nmah-ac-0349-ref236

Piano Construction 1957 1961 and undated

Collection Author:
Falcone Custom Grand Pianos  Search this
Collection Donor:
Pratt, Read and Company  Search this
Collection Creator:
Sohmer & Company  Search this
Container:
Box 12, Folder 16
Type:
Archival materials
Collection Restrictions:
Collection is open for research.
Collection is open for research.
Collection 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.
Collection Citation:
Sohmer & Co. Records, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
See more items in:
Sohmer & Co. Records
Sohmer & Co. Records / Series 8: Photographs
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ep8f6f0a3f3-5ac4-448e-9064-e6e9fc86ec1e
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nmah-ac-0349-ref252

Top View of Sohmer Grand Piano

Collection Author:
Falcone Custom Grand Pianos  Search this
Collection Donor:
Pratt, Read and Company  Search this
Collection Creator:
Sohmer & Company  Search this
Container:
Box 13, Folder 1
Type:
Archival materials
Date:
undated
Collection Restrictions:
Collection is open for research.
Collection is open for research.
Collection 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.
Collection Citation:
Sohmer & Co. Records, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
See more items in:
Sohmer & Co. Records
Sohmer & Co. Records / Series 8: Photographs
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ep80aae8bdd-a7e3-4a6e-b190-b9e992d131f3
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nmah-ac-0349-ref253

Pianos

Collection Author:
Falcone Custom Grand Pianos  Search this
Collection Donor:
Pratt, Read and Company  Search this
Collection Creator:
Sohmer & Company  Search this
Container:
Box 13, Folder 2
Type:
Archival materials
Date:
undated
Collection Restrictions:
Collection is open for research.
Collection is open for research.
Collection 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.
Collection Citation:
Sohmer & Co. Records, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
See more items in:
Sohmer & Co. Records
Sohmer & Co. Records / Series 8: Photographs
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ep8521e6dad-ddf9-43b4-8d42-0ccdb93d4720
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nmah-ac-0349-ref254

Lake Placid Club Exterior Views

Collection Author:
Falcone Custom Grand Pianos  Search this
Collection Donor:
Pratt, Read and Company  Search this
Collection Creator:
Sohmer & Company  Search this
Container:
Box 13, Folder 3
Type:
Archival materials
Date:
undated
Collection Restrictions:
Collection is open for research.
Collection is open for research.
Collection 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.
Collection Citation:
Sohmer & Co. Records, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
See more items in:
Sohmer & Co. Records
Sohmer & Co. Records / Series 8: Photographs
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ep8b353af46-4ced-4b0d-a2ff-8fb0ecb498b2
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nmah-ac-0349-ref255

Lake Placid Club Interior Views

Collection Author:
Falcone Custom Grand Pianos  Search this
Collection Donor:
Pratt, Read and Company  Search this
Collection Creator:
Sohmer & Company  Search this
Container:
Box 13, Folder 4
Type:
Archival materials
Date:
undated
Collection Restrictions:
Collection is open for research.
Collection is open for research.
Collection 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.
Collection Citation:
Sohmer & Co. Records, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
See more items in:
Sohmer & Co. Records
Sohmer & Co. Records / Series 8: Photographs
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ep86b518f9c-8099-4729-bb5f-2c1a2bd5696d
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nmah-ac-0349-ref256

Exterior View of Washington Irving High School NY

Collection Author:
Falcone Custom Grand Pianos  Search this
Collection Donor:
Pratt, Read and Company  Search this
Collection Creator:
Sohmer & Company  Search this
Container:
Box 13, Folder 5
Type:
Archival materials
Date:
undated
Collection Restrictions:
Collection is open for research.
Collection is open for research.
Collection 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.
Collection Citation:
Sohmer & Co. Records, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
See more items in:
Sohmer & Co. Records
Sohmer & Co. Records / Series 8: Photographs
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ep8a4951b86-d0bd-43b8-9be1-6e72f01aea9e
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nmah-ac-0349-ref257

Exterior Views of Hotels which Feature Sohmer Pianos

Collection Author:
Falcone Custom Grand Pianos  Search this
Collection Donor:
Pratt, Read and Company  Search this
Collection Creator:
Sohmer & Company  Search this
Container:
Box 13, Folder 6
Type:
Archival materials
Date:
undated
Collection Restrictions:
Collection is open for research.
Collection is open for research.
Collection 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.
Collection Citation:
Sohmer & Co. Records, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
See more items in:
Sohmer & Co. Records
Sohmer & Co. Records / Series 8: Photographs
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ep84fdd8e33-1b19-4c94-b2d5-f845cde8bb6b
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nmah-ac-0349-ref258

Celebrities

Collection Author:
Falcone Custom Grand Pianos  Search this
Collection Donor:
Pratt, Read and Company  Search this
Collection Creator:
Sohmer & Company  Search this
Container:
Box 13, Folder 7
Type:
Archival materials
Date:
undated
Collection Restrictions:
Collection is open for research.
Collection is open for research.
Collection 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.
Collection Citation:
Sohmer & Co. Records, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
See more items in:
Sohmer & Co. Records
Sohmer & Co. Records / Series 8: Photographs
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ep888132522-e4c7-497e-a4f5-1e11a1c9abd5
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nmah-ac-0349-ref259

Harry J. Sohmer Sr.

Collection Author:
Falcone Custom Grand Pianos  Search this
Collection Donor:
Pratt, Read and Company  Search this
Collection Creator:
Sohmer & Company  Search this
Container:
Box 13, Folder 8
Type:
Archival materials
Date:
undated
Collection Restrictions:
Collection is open for research.
Collection is open for research.
Collection 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.
Collection Citation:
Sohmer & Co. Records, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
See more items in:
Sohmer & Co. Records
Sohmer & Co. Records / Series 8: Photographs
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ep82ab8de0f-0ad7-49cd-bddf-b4512588864a
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nmah-ac-0349-ref260

Interior Views of Sohmer Piano Settings

Collection Author:
Falcone Custom Grand Pianos  Search this
Collection Donor:
Pratt, Read and Company  Search this
Collection Creator:
Sohmer & Company  Search this
Container:
Box 13, Folder 9
Type:
Archival materials
Date:
undated
Collection Restrictions:
Collection is open for research.
Collection is open for research.
Collection 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.
Collection Citation:
Sohmer & Co. Records, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
See more items in:
Sohmer & Co. Records
Sohmer & Co. Records / Series 8: Photographs
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ep84598efba-3864-400a-86a2-690086a1ec74
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nmah-ac-0349-ref261

Interior Views of Sohmer Showrooms

Collection Author:
Falcone Custom Grand Pianos  Search this
Collection Donor:
Pratt, Read and Company  Search this
Collection Creator:
Sohmer & Company  Search this
Container:
Box 76, Folder 1
Type:
Archival materials
Date:
undated
Collection Restrictions:
Collection is open for research.
Collection is open for research.
Collection 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.
Collection Citation:
Sohmer & Co. Records, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
See more items in:
Sohmer & Co. Records
Sohmer & Co. Records / Series 8: Photographs
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ep88ca1e2d3-cf20-4e58-8bba-e79d41fdf699
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nmah-ac-0349-ref262

Portraits of Hugo Sohmer Harry J. Sohmer Sr. and Frank J. Sohmer

Collection Author:
Falcone Custom Grand Pianos  Search this
Collection Donor:
Pratt, Read and Company  Search this
Collection Creator:
Sohmer & Company  Search this
Container:
Box 82, Folder 4
Type:
Archival materials
Date:
undated
Collection Restrictions:
Collection is open for research.
Collection is open for research.
Collection 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.
Collection Citation:
Sohmer & Co. Records, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
See more items in:
Sohmer & Co. Records
Sohmer & Co. Records / Series 8: Photographs
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ep8f5d56174-cf7a-4f06-9a0e-17fac5c61f0d
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nmah-ac-0349-ref263

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