© 2005 P. Missin - Details

German Patent 117595

Granted in 1901 to Ferdinand Strauss of New York, this was for a harmonica whose cover extended into a flared trumpet-like shape, marketed under the name Harmonophone. The acoustic enhancement of such a device is not particularly dramatic, but the visual appeal of the instrument was immeasurably enhanced. Similar instruments were made by Carl Essbach, C. H. Meinel, F. A. Rauner, Johann Schunk, C.A. Seydel Söhne (under the name brand name of Clover*) and others. Then there was the Hohner Trumpet Call and its various imitators. Obviously Strauss had to do something to set their products aside from the competition, so a series of US Design Patents followed.

US Design Patent 68717 was granted in 1925 to Henry Katz, an employee of the F. A. Strauss Corporation, featuring a harmonica with a gramophone-like horn projecting from the rear of the instrument:

This is their famous Loudspeaker model. Despite the 14 hole shown on the harmonica in the patent, I've only ever seen this as a 10-hole diatonic. One particularly cool aspect was the way that the horn could be rotated to point in different directions. Not an acoustically useful feature, but a great visual element.

US Design Patent 68751, also granted to Henry Katz at the same time as the previous patent, had the harmonica mounted in a tube, with the loudspeaker horn stuck on one end:

Strauss also made a version of this instrument with a horn at each end, but what is even better than a harmonica with two horns? Of course...

US Design Patent 74704 issued in 1928 to Ferdinand Strauss himself, featured a harmonica with three horns, sold under the name Strauss Accordeon Harmonica:

A couple of months later, Strauss came back to his senses and returned to the single horn design with US Design Patent 75194, for their Loutone model:

Fortunately, his sanity did not hold up for too long and in 1929 he was awarded US Patent 1705076 for what the patent claimed was a "Removable Harmonica Mouthpiece For Wind Instruments". Actually, this was merely an attempt to try to cash in on the coolness of the saxophone without the harmonica player having to go to the trouble of learning a new instrument, being simply a vaguely sax-like horn added to the back of a harmonica:

Here is an advertisement from 1928 showing various harmonicas from the Strauss range:

* As an addendum to the above, it may be worth mentioning the Clover Harmonophone. As well as having the same name as the Strauss Harmonophone, the two designs were remarkably similar. Clover was a brand name used by the Seydel company and their Harmonophone boasted on its cover US PATENT NO- 423642 MAR. 18 1890. This patent was issued to US-based instrument dealer John F. Stratton, but the accompanying illustrations show a very different design to the Harmonophone:

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