Treasures from the
Alan G. Bates Harmonica Collection
On Display at the NMM
The NMM celebrated the arrival of the new millenium with the grateful acceptance of the Alan G. Bates Harmonica Collection and Archive, consisting of more than
2,500 instruments, plus some 600 harmonica recordings and extensive
archival materials and ephemera, including posters and other colorful
marketing materials. This inclusive collection tells the story of the
harmonica from its first beginnings in Europe in the 1820s to its current
popularity around the world. Filling what had been a major gap in the
NMM's encyclopedic collections, the Bates Collection is an unparalleled
resource in terms of quality and uniqueness, second only to the Deutsches Harmonika Museum in Trossingen,
Germany, and contains many unique items found nowhere else.
This small exhibition of instruments and other objects, listed below,
shares with you but a few of the many treasures in the Bates Collection.
The NMM has also loaned a second exhibit of vintage harmonicas from the
Bates Collection to The Music
Man Square in Mason City, Iowa, where it is
currently on view.
1) Harmonica by M. Hohner, Trossingen, Germany, ca. 1995. Blues
Harp, owned and played by Stevie Wonder, soul musician. NMM 9642.
2) Cane harmonica, France, ca. 1890. Textured silver handle, hallmarks, and ebonized stick with brass ferrule. NMM 8949.
3) Cane harmonica, England, ca. 1900. Ten sounding holes with a
pattern of 14 escape holes on the back side. NMM 8948.
4) Cane harmonica by Swaine & Adeney, London, ca. 1860-1915. Ten
sounding holes. NMM 9280.
5) "Fiddle Tone" toy harmonica by Spec-toy-culars, U.S.A., ca. 1950.
Red plastic violin with a playable, 4-hole harmonica mounted in the end.
6) "Mamma/Next to None" toy harmonica, Japan, ca. 1950. NMM 9617.
7) "Marine Orchestra"
bell harmonica by M. Hohner, Trossingen, ca.
1920. A rare variety with tulip-shaped bells, not listed in any
8) Double-sided bell harmonica, Germany, ca 1885. Unusual trademark
includes a logo, stamped Dresden, 1876. NMM 8636.
9) Four-sided Mira harmonica by Andreas Koch - a major Hohner
competitor in Trossingen - ca. 1920. A rare example, of which no others
have been reported. NMM 7717.
10) "Banana-Band" by F. A. Rauner, Klingenthal, Germany, ca. 1925.
Harmonica is mounted inside a wooden banana. NMM 8494.
11) "Koh-i-Noor" jeweled harmonica by F. A. B÷hm, Klingenthal, ca.
1925. NMM 8978.
12) "Clover Harmonophone" by Ferdinand Strauss Co., ca. 1900. A
player can sing through the mouthpiece or get a "wa-wa" effect by waving
one's hand in front of the "funnel" opening. With original box and
instruction book. NMM 8409.
13) "Tom Sawyer" harmonica by H. Rauner, Klingenthal, after 1936.
Promoted and sold by Borrah Minevitch, leader of the Harmonica Rascals.
14) "Huckleberry Finn" harmonica by H. Rauner, Klingenthal, after 1936.
Promoted and sold by Borrah Minevitch, leader of the Harmonica Rascals.
15) "Echo Elite" harmonica by M. Hohner, Trossingen, ca. 1950.
Catalogs describe it as "Streamlined" and "Ultra Modernistic." NMM
16) Full-size "Miniature Boomerang" harmonica by C. A. Seydel S÷hne,
Klingenthal, ca. 1930. Made for the Australian market. NMM 9085.
17) "Baby Deluxe Boomerang" harmonica by C. A. Seydel S÷hne,
Klingenthal, ca. 1930. Miniature harmonica shaped like an Australian
boomerang, in hinged case. NMM 8362.
18) "Boomerang Grand" chromatic harmonica attributed to C. A. Seydel
S÷hne, Klingenthal, ca. 1935. One of many models made for the Australian
market. The cardboard box is stamped, Made in Switzerland, perhaps
because of growing hostilities. NMM 8509.
19) "The Auto" harmonica
by M. Hohner,
Trossingen, ca. 1924-1930. Cover
plates are brass, stamped in the shape of an open-top touring car of the
period. NMM 8281.
20) "Gold-Fisch" harmonica by Andreas Koch, Germany, first introduced
in 1905. More than a toy! NMM 9232.
21) Miniature "Saturday Night Special" harmonica, Japan, ca. 1950.
Built for the American market. Plays eight notes. NMM 8721.
22) "The Kentucky Home" harmonica by C. H. Meinel, Schlo▀meinel,
Germany, ca. 1900. Sliding covers allow easy access to the reeds. NMM
23) "The Finest Liliput-Harmonica" by A. A. Schlott, Klingenthal, ca.
1930. A miniature harmonica stamped with the outline of a violin on both
sides, complete with its original little tin box. NMM 8243.
24) Pitch Pipe, Germany, ca. 1925. Adjusts to play major or minor
triads in any of twelve keys. NMM 9177.
25) Pitch Pipe in A and C, made in the form of miniature brass
binoculars, ca. 1900. NMM 7686.
26) Pitch Pipe by Cook & Read, U.S.A., ca. 1877. Chromatic.
Fan-shaped top stamped PAT. DEC. 26, 1876/STANDARD/COOK & READ. NMM
27) Pitch Pipe by James Bazin, Massachusetts, ca. 1825. Ingenious,
variable-pitch, brass pitch pipe. NMM 8924.
28) Miniature harmonica, nine carat gold-plated, ca. 1930. The
smallest, fully playable model known. NMM 7509.
29) "Aero Band"
harmonica by M. Hohner, Trossingen, ca. 1909-1924. Both the cover plates and the box depict a zeppelin, with
central pictures of Hohner and Ferdinand von Zeppelin. NMM 8148.
30) Harmonica in C by M. Hohner, Trossingen, for Tiffany & Co, New
York. Sterling silver (92.5) case work. NMM 8443.
31) "Merry Gipsies" novelty harmonica, Germany, ca. 1950. A zany
combination of harmonica, cymbals, and drum, create a "Gipsy Band." NMM
32) Harmonica by Filipp (Philipp) Brunnbauer, Vienna, ca. 1885. Built
for exhibition with brass covers that still show traces of the original
gold plating and enameled flowers. NMM 9597.
33) "Loudspeaker" harmonica, imported from Germany for re-sale by the
Ferdinand Strauss Harmonica Co., New York, patented November 10, 1925.
With original box and instruction booklet. NMM 7820.
34) "Musical Cigar" harmonica by F. A. B÷hm, Klingenthal, ca. 1930.
Complete with ash! NMM 9155.
35) "Babe's Musical Bat" by F. A. Rauner, Klingenthal, 1927.
Five-holes, plays ten notes. Babe Ruth game souvenir from the 1927
pennant game with the Pirates. NMM 8244.
36) Figurine of a man with a harmonica and guitar. Limited-edition
polystone, made in China by Loomco Products, 1994. NMM M-174.
37) From left to right:
Pin, "Ring My Chimes, Gil Chimes Orchestra, 914-664-4141," ca.
1950. NMM M-213.
Pin, "Jerry Murad's Harmonicats," by Badge-a-Minute, LaSalle,
Illinois, ca. 1955. NMM M-214.
Pin, unidentified harmonica trio, by Badge-a-Minute, LaSalle, ca.
1950. NMM M-215.
Pin, "Borrah Minnevitch", ca. 1950. NMM M-216.
Pin, "Borrah Minnevitch, Johnny Puleo, Ernie Morris, and other
'Rascals' from the movie, The Rascals, starring Jane Withers," ca. 1938.
Pin, sailor on a warship playing a Hohner harmonica, by
Badge-a-Minute, LaSalle. NMM M-218.
Pin with Hohner's logo, "Hohner Boy," by Badge-a-Minute,
LaSalle, Illinois, ca. 1950. NMM M-219.
Pin with Hohner's logo, "Hohner Boy," by H.A.S. Novelties,
Toronto, Ontario, ca. 1950. NMM M-220.
Miniature harmonica attached to a pin by M. Hohner, Trossingen.
The instrument plays. NMM 7231.
Pin, "National Harmonica League." NMM M-223.
Pin, gold-plated, a ten-hole harmonica and the letters HPI, by
Entenmann-Roverco, Pico Rivera, California. NMM M-224.
Pin, "Chromatic" ten-hole harmonica. NMM M-225.
Pin, "Golden Melody" harmonica by M. Hohner, Trossingen. NMM
Pin, "Chromatic" ten-hole harmonica. NMM M-227.
Pin, "The 64 Chromonica harmonica," by M. Hohner, Trossingen. NMM
Pin, Hohner's "Meisterklasse 580" harmonica by Future Primitive,
U.S.A. NMM M-229.
Pin, "Marine Band" harmonica by M. Hohner, Trossingen. NMM
38) "Monte Cristo" harmonicas attributed to Charles Weiss, Trossingen,
ca. 1898. Imported for re-sale by Lyon & Healy Music Company, Chicago.
Boxed set of three in A, D, and G. Wooden combs painted silver; metal
cover casings are gold, silver, and copper. Original, flip-top wooden
case, lined with red silk. Nos. 8955, 9800, 9801.
39) Pipeolion by
Christian Weiss, Trossingen, introduced in 1907.
Unique instrument with ten brass horns, each containing two reeds. Only
made for four or five years. Never copied! Examples with original box
are rare. NMM 9486.
40) Harmonette by M. Hohner, Trossingen, 1926-1933. Octave-tuned
harmonica is mounted in a harp-shaped wooden resonator. NMM 7899.
41) "Fidelio" bell harmonica by Andreas Koch, Trossingen, ca. 1925.
Unusual mounting arrangement for the two bells. NMM 9602.
42) "Trumpet Call"
harmonica by M. Hohner, Trossingen, introduced in
1906. The five brass horns are purely decorative. The most desired
of all harmonicas by most collectors, but not particularly rare. Original
box. NMM 8293.
43) "Trumpet Call"
harmonica by M. Hohner, Trossingen, ca. 1923,
although there are no decorative trumpets. High-relief designs with
cherubs and trumpets on both brass cover plates. NMM 8121.
44) Recessed bell harmonica,
ca. 1895, based on the trademarks. A rare example with one bell recessed into the
cover plate on each side. NMM 7848.
45) Echo-Luxe "Century of Progress" harmonica by M. Hohner,
Trossingen, 1933. Commemorates the 1933-34 Chicago World's Fair.
Produced in different enameled patterns and colors. NMM 7711.
46) "Trumpet Organ" by Andreas Koch, Trossingen, ca. 1910. Early example, with five brass horns and cylindrical resonating chamber.
Competed with Hohner's "Trumpet Call," but which came first is not known.
47) Hohnerette, model 3B, by M. Hohner, Trossingen, introduced in
1906. Called a high-class blow accordion, this example has five brass
decorative horns, ten buttons for blow/draw notes, a bass key, and a chord
key. Original box. NMM 8334.
48) Rolmonica player harmonica patented by Rolmonica Corp., Baltimore,
ca. 1928. Blow or draw and turn crank to play one of hundreds of songs
available on paper rolls. NMM 7868. (The Bates Collection also includes
an all-metal prototype Rolmonica, ca. 1925, for which each paper roll has
its own crank [NMM 7988]. The later, commercial models have a
spring-loaded crank, as part of the instrument.)
49) "Examina" harmonica-testing bellows by M. Hohner, Trossingen, ca.
1920. Though still made today for use in music shops, this example is one
of the first designs, now obsolete. NMM M-251.
50) Four-sided, paddle-wheel harmonica, Germany, ca. 1885.
Hand-engraved floral decorations on each cover plate. NMM 9291.
51) "Tremolo Sextet" harmonica by M. Hohner, Trossingen, ca. 1939.
Tuned in six keys. NMM 9212.
52) Three-sided harmonica by Georg Bruckbauer, Vienna, ca. 1880.
Sometimes called "paddle wheels." NMM 8989.
53) Double-sided harmonica with handles by Jos. Tyszka, Budapest, ca.
1888. Rare example by a non-German maker. NMM 9197.
54) "Polyphonia" chord harmonica by M. Hohner, Trossingen, ca. 1936. Used for
playing chord accompaniment in C, F, and G. NMM 9348.
55) Six-sided, paddle-wheel harmonica, Germany, ca. 1885. One of the smallest "paddle-wheels" known. Ornate, hand-engraved floral and zigzag patterns. Harmonicas in C, G, D, A, E, and B minor, attached at each end with star-shaped mounts. NMM 10259.
56) From left to right:
Miniature harmonica in A, Japan. Pearl model. NMM 8144.
Miniature harmonica, Japan. NMM 8147.
Miniature harmonica in A, China. OK Golden Cup model. NMM
Miniature harmonica, Japan. Airplane model. NMM 8151.
Miniature harmonica in A, in Germany. Memory model. NMM 8369.
Miniature harmonica in A, Brazil, ca. 1990. Hering model. NMM
Miniature harmonica, campaign promotion for Edward J. Barrett,
Secretary of State, 1945-1953. NMM 9156.
Miniature harmonica, Japan. Ace model. NMM 9814.
Miniature harmonica, Japan. Ace model. NMM 9815.
Miniature harmonica, Japan. Ace model. NMM 9816.
Miniature harmonica, Japan. Ace model. NMM 9817.
Miniature harmonica, Japan. Ace model. NMM 9818.
"Echo Elite Harmonica" prototype pin by Hohner, Trossingen, ca.
1957. NMM M-276.
"Chromonica I Deluxe" prototype pin by Hohner, Trossingen, ca.
1957. NMM M-277.
"Chromonica I Deluxe" prototype pin by Hohner, Trossingen, ca.
1957. NMM M-278.
"Chromonica II Deluxe" prototype pin by Hohner, Trossingen, ca.
1957. NMM M-279.
57) Harmonetta by M. Hohner, Trossingen, ca. 1970. An internal jungle
of springs, wires, and levers made this complex instrument obsolete in
about 20 years. Yet, people still play it! Has solfege markings, rather
than note names. NMM 8469.
58) "Marine Band" harmonica by M. Hohner, Trossingen, ca. 1930. A
very rare design, not shown in Hohner catalogs. NMM 9596.
59) Chord harmonica by M. Hohner, Trossingen, ca. 1960. Plays 48
major, minor, diminished, and augmented chords in several keys.
Rhinestones were added later by the owner. NMM 8169.
60) "Chromatica" bass harmonica by M. Hohner, Trossingen, after 1936.
Provides the bass notes in harmonica ensembles, especially trios (like the
Harmonicats). NMM 8704.
61) Organola by M. Hohner, Trossingen, ca. 1902. With features of both a conventional diatonic harmonica and a blow accordion, the organola was patented in England in 1901 and the USA in 1902. It was advertised in Hohner catalogs of the time and pictured in the June 1903 issue of Music Trade Review. Bought and played by George G. Donaldson (1868-1930), a photographer on F Street in Washington, DC, for 33 years, who was a member of a harmonica band, played dulcimer and banjo, and owned some 15 folk instruments. Two other organolas are known, one at the Deutsches Harmonika Museum in Trossingen, the other in a private collection in The Netherlands. This example is the only one that survives with its original box. NMM 10265.
62) Double harmonica by G. A. Doerfel, Brunndöbra (Klingenthal), ca. 1900. Tremolo/concert model, stamped with an early steam locomotive spewing smoke and "TRADE MARK" beneath. NMM 9376.
63) Harmonica by C. H. Meinel (Schlo▀meinel), Klingenthal, ca. 1906. This model was issued to commemorate the launching in 1906 of the Mauritania, a passenger ship of the Cunard line, that held the speed record until 1929. Its sister ship, the Lusitania, was sunk by a German submarine in 1915 (World War I). Original box. NMM 8508.
64) Harmonica, Germany, ca. 1898. The Roosevelt Rough Rider Concert model, with an unidentified trademark of two circles, an eight-point star, and the word, CELEBRATE. Commemorates the exploits of Lt. Col. Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt and his Rough Riders in Cuba in June 1898 during the Spanish-American War. NMM 7803.
65) Harmonica by Christian Weiss, Trossingen, 1912. Metalla model, stamped on back, Die neue [the new] RESONANZ-METALL-HARMONIKA. A very rare, all-metal harmonica. See Alan Bates' article in the Harmonica Collectors International Newsletter, Fall 2001. NMM 10226.
66) Harmonica by C. A. Seydel Söhne, Untersachsenberg-Georgenthal (Klingenthal), ca. 1924. In the shape of a zeppelin to honor the U.S. Navy's Los Angeles, first flown in 1924, carrying 20 passengers. The harmonica projecting beneath the zeppelin is the cabin, with 11 "portholes" through which the sound issues. Designed for export, it is stamped on both sides, MUSIC-MASTER, TRADEMARK, MADE IN SAXONY. NMM 7735.
67) Harmonica by M. Hohner, Trossingen, 1910. This rare Coronation Harp was built when King George V of England ascended to the throne in 1910. Inside the box is a label with a photo of George on the left, Queen Mary on the right, and the Union Jack between them. NMM 9502.
68) Accordina d'apres [after] A. Borel by Marcel Dreux and Thierry Benetoux (tuning workshop), LeThor, France, and Guy Duchŕne (tuning workshop), Paris, ca. 2001. Invented and manufactured originally in the 1930s by Alain Borel, this version features stainless steel reeds and a synthetic wind chest, solving problems linked to condensation. Described as "between an accordeon and a harmonica," it is blown through a mouthpiece on the side and played by depressing one or more of the 44 buttons which activate the reeds, not unlike the buttons that activate the reeds in the mid-19th-century mÚlophone by Jacquet, Paris, exhibited immediately to its right. The sound can be modulated by pressing in the curved front or back sides. On the bottom end is a spit valve. Revived primarily for playing jazz. NMM 10255.
69) Harmonica by Andreas Koch, Trossingen, ca. 1925. Sirena model in the shape of a cat, gold finish, but a simple, child's toy, with only six reeds. Ex coll.: Deutsches Harmonika Museum, Trossingen (by trade). NMM 10230.
70) Harmonica patented in England, May 27, 1902, by Carl Strauss, 355 Broadway, New York, and in Germany in 1903. Original cylindrical box labeled U.S.A. Coin Harp / No. 200 / The latest novelty / Made in Germany. One end has a glass cover over a "dexterity puzzle" with 7 pockets and 7 tiny white balls that, with a little patience, can all be maneuvered into the pockets. The other end is a coin holder with a spring-loaded plate that pushes down, when a U.S. nickel is inserted. Three Liberty Head nickels (dated 1904, 1905, and 1910) currently reside there, but easily slide out, when pushed with one's thumb. All 20 notes play with a nice tone. This is not a cheap toy. NMM 10268.
71) Tremolo harmonica with dual bell attachment by Otto Weidlich, Brunnd÷bra (Klingenthal), ca. 1920. Maker identified by his registered trademark, Empress, and a swan, both stamped on each side. Original slip-top box. NMM 10261.
72) Wooden model developed by Joe Lederfine (b. 1917), Brooklyn, New York, ca. 1939, during the early design and development of the harmonichord, of which he was the inventor (see 73, below). NMM M-353.
73) Harmonichord by Jolie Musical Instrument Corporation, New York, ca. 1941. Plastic case with brass reeds, built during World War II, when harmonicas could not be imported from Germany and there were tight restrictions on the use of metal for things other than military supplies and equipment. A simplified version of an instrument with key-operated valves first submitted to the U.S. Patent Office by Joe Lederfine, Brooklyn, on November 7, 1939, and for which he received a patent in the U.S. and Canada on January 7, 1941. Played with the fingers and marketed as "The Easiest-to-Play Harmonica Ever Made." Sold for $2.00. The original, pink box (not exhibited) is stamped on the back, Princeton Music School, 14111 Chicago Street, Dolton, Illinois. NMM 10237.
(Also included in the Alan Bates Collection, but not exhibited because the plastic [Bakelite] of which they are molded is subject to deterioration, when exposed to light, are two prototypes of the models for which Joe Lederfine first submitted his patent application.)
74) One of three surviving printer's blocks of wood and lead, used to print ads to market the harmonichord in the 1940s. This one reads (reversed letters), as follows: THE AMAZING NEW HARMONICA / Played with the Fingers! / [graphic - harmonichord]. The image was printed in black on a one-page brochure about the instrument that also survives in the Alan Bates Collection. NMM M-354.
National Music Museum
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