© 2005 P. Missin - Details

British Patent 19296

Granted in 1899 to Edward John Matthews of London, a cabinet maker by trade. The inventor states:

This invention relates to improvements in mouth organs, and has for its principle object to provide a musical instrument of this class in which the performer can produce the semi-tones perfectly distinct from the natural tones, by means of a mechanical arrangement which throws the performer's breath, with which the notes are produced, of the natural notes on to the semi-tones, at will.

The mechanical arrangement in question is a cylindrical unit at the front of the harmonica.

Rotating this unit directs the breath to either the upper or the lower reedplate. The inventor talks about tuning one set of reeds "in the usual, or German Manner", ie the typical diatonic tuning, with the second reedplate "is so tuned to be capable of producing the lower F natural, A natural and top G natural, if tuned in C, or corresponding notes in other keys, in addition to the intermediate semi-tones". Presumably he meant "B natural" instead of "G natural". He also adds that the reeds "may be tuned in octaves or in unison to provide a tremolow" (sic).

This design was also protected by German Patent 108228, issued in 1900, which gave a somewhat clearer illustration of the instrument:

Return to Harmonica PatentsReturn to Main Index