© 2005 P. Missin - Details

US Patent 1720991

The most famous of all the player harmonicas is the Rolmonica. Awarded to Joseph Le Roy Banks of Baltimore, Maryland, this 1929 patent covered the basic design of the Rolmonica, a case containing a harmonica and two rollers to hole the music roll, with a single mouthpiece at the front of the case:

A couple of years later, Banks was granted US Patent 1798055 for some improvements to the design. The Rolmonica was also covered by French Patent 655427, British Patent 310219 and Swiss Patent 135770, all from 1929, Danish Patent 42480 from 1930, plus Austrian Patent 124380 and German Patent 529926, both issued in 1931.

Banks held several other harmonica related patents. In 1924, he was awarded German Patent 399194 in partnership with Clausen & Co., for a harmonica comb design similar to that used by Hohner on their short lived "Virtuoso" range :

In 1925, he was granted US Patent 1560497 for an earlier version of a player harmonica:

This design was also covered by German Patent 403580. He also held US Patents 1662948 and 1662949, both from 1928, which covered processes involved in the production of the music rolls used by the Rolmonica and similar instruments. In addition, he held several patents not connected with music, including a 1923 patent for heat transmissions systems for power plants, another patent from that same year for vehicle crankshafts and his last patent from 1946 for a toy typewriter for the J. L. Schilling Company.

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