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Old Geezer

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  1. With all due respect to Rick Nielson, who owns the harmonica you pictured, I believe that he is wrong in his dating. That one, along with a few others by Brunnbauer, is also found in 'John Whiteman's Harmonica Anthology' - a HUGE collection of all kinds of harmonicas, every one pictured. Whiteman also dates it to 1893. I would be willing to bet that neither of them (or the owners of the harmonicas, since they come from a few different collections) have ever taken off the cover plates to look at the reeds. Without seeing the example that is in the Bates collection, it's impossible to tell just what it is, since here are some that have dates in the 1880s on their cover plates. Your explanation about he differences in the building pictured and the actual structure sounds about right. I do apperciate and thank you for your responses to my questions. Regards, Paul N.
  2. Here's another Exhibition harmonica that I have. This one was made by Philip Brunnbauer & Sohn in Vienna sometime before 1880 (because it has hand made reeds). I believe that it was also made for the Phila. Centennial Expo, but I'm not certain. It is of the wrong style to have been made before about 1870, so that would provide the lower limit and the hand made reeds would provide the upper limit as to when it could have been produced. As a reverse type it has an Exhibition Building with the legend 'Registered Exhibition Harmonica'. Since the inscription is in English, it had to have been made for a fair in an English speaking country, and the only ones in the 1870's were Dublin and Phila. Can anyone identify this hall, or was it just some Austrian's idea of what an Expo building should look like? Fig. 1 is the top cover plate with the maker's name. Fig. 2 is the bottom showing the main device - the Expo building. Both plates are also hand painted with flowers and insects. Thanks for your time and help. Paul N.
  3. Hi, I do not know for sure if these were made for a Fair-connected event or not. I am reasonably certain that they were, though, because of the unusual 'eagle and letters' design on them. There are other harmonicas out there made by Thie, as well as a couple of German manufacturers and another Austrian maker, that were also made for sale there, but they do not have the eagle or the letters. In any case, after the Fair was over any remaining stock would have been put up for sale by the makers' American agents. Just to get rid of them, if for no other reason. Here is copy of some correspondence I had with Mr. Jeffery Ray, of the Philadelphia History Museum, Mr. Neupert, Thank you for your inquiry to the Philadelphia History Museum. I do not know your harmonica directly but I can tell you that the Centennial and the celebration here in Philadelphia was one of the first great branding opportunities in American retail. There is a very good chance that it was made to be sold at the Centennial, especially if the firm exhibited at the Centennial I regret that the museum's copies of the Catalogs of the event are packed away and not accessible. That said, the inclusion of the word Philadelphia, along with the eagle, and 1876 on the piece makes me think that it is a made-to-be-sold-in-Philadelphia-sold Centennial piece. This is just an opinion, but it is a fairly well educated one. Jeffrey Ray -- Jeffrey R. Ray Senior Curator Philadelphia History Museum at the Atwater Kent These 'eagle and letters' designs had some sort of meaning to someone or some group at the Fair. Maybe they had something to do with a ceremony of some sort, or Civil War Veterans groups. I don't know, and I am trying to find out. By the way, I sent an eMail to the contact person at the Expo Museum (ExpoMuseum / 1876 Centennial Exposition, Philadelphia) about all this, but I never had the courtesy of a reply.
  4. If you mean how do I know that the Rapp harmonica dates from the time of the 1876 Expo, and not a later one like the 1893 Chicago Expo. That's easy. First, it has to do with the reeds - the little metal strips that make the music. These were all hand made. The automatic reed milling machine was patented in 1878, and by 1879 or 80 every maker would have had one. They could spit out thousands of reeds per hour, made to whatever pitch ( C, D, E etc.) that was desired. Before this, a skilled workman stamped out a thin strips of some kind of metal - German silver, in this case - and proceeded to file them to the length and width desired, and then file the top and bottom surfaces to get the required pitch. How long this took, I do not know - but it was all very labor-intensive This harmonica has about 36 hand made reeds. Next, the presence of the American eagle indicates that it had to have been made for the American market. Finally, because the eagle device is the same as the Thie harmonica pictured - and that one was most certainly made for sale at the 1876 Expo - I am quite certain that Rapp & Sohn made this one for that Expo as well. There is no lead in this one, by the way. The reed plates are brass, the reeds are German silver (copper, nickel and zinc) and the cover plates are tinned steel.
  5. I collect old harmonicas and I recently picked up an old Austrian instrument that I believe was made for sale at the 1876 Expo. (Please see fig. 1) It was made by a very small maker in Austria, Rapp & Sohn in Vienna. For a device, it has the Great Seal of the United States - an American eagle with a shield on its breast, a ribbon in its beak, and an olive branch and arrows held in its talons. (Look at the eagle on the back of a dollar bill.) The letters 'P' and 'B' are on either side of it. The reason I believe that it was made for the 1876 Expo is seen in the next two figures. This harmonica was made by Wilhelm Thie in Vienna and on one side has his name with two circles on either side and with ‘Philadelphia above each circle. On the other side is the American Great Seal with ‘18’. . .‘76’ and 'H' 'P' on either side of it. Does either of these designs mean anything to anyone on this list? The letters have nothing to do with either of the manufacturers or the types of harmonicas, so they must have had some meaning at the Expo. But What? Thank you for your time and help. Paul N. I knew this was going too smoothly. I put the wrong photo in as fig. 1 and had to delete it and then upload the correct one. The Rapp & Sohn harmonica is now fig. 3. Also, while I'm at it, I should explain that Vienna was a major producer of harmonicas in the mid-nineteenth century. Mostly small factories. They were all gone by 1915.
  6. Introduction and questions

    Hi, Jim While I've been a member of the Buffalo & Erie Co. Hist. Soc'y for some time, and like local history, I've never gotten too interested in either the Pan-Am Expo or the Teddy Roosevelt site for some unknown reason. My grandmother (born 1882) was at the Expo and used to tell me about the 'Trip to the Moon' ride that was there. It must have really impressed her. She always said how 'lifelike' it was. If I remember correctly, that ride went from the Expo to Coney Island, where it stayed for a few years. (There's a site somewhere, that deals in old amusement ride and amusement park history. That site goes into that particular ride pretty thoroughly, I believe. It might instead be in a site devoted to the history of Coney Island. I don't remember now.) One of her sisters was there on another day and got to shake McKinley's hand - the day before he got shot. They had to walk about 5 miles from Tonawanda, NY to get there, by the way. Regards Paul N.
  7. I was in the Navy from 1966 – 1970. The ship I was on, the U.S.S. Repose (a hospital ship) was on its way to the U.S after several years in Viet Nam. Since we were on the way home and the Captain was going to retire at the end of the voyage, we made the Grand Tour of the Pacific. We went from Viet Nam to Subic Bay, Philippines and from there to Hong Kong and to Japan. The ship tied up in Kobe for a three or four days stay, and any of the crew who didn’t have to work that day – and wanted to go – was put on a bus and taken to the World’s Fair site. Once there, we were turned loose and told to be back at the bus at a certain time for the trip back to the ship. So a few friend and myself set out. We found the Pavilion of the USSR and found out that there was a wait of a few hours to get in. We couldn’t wait that long, so we went around to the back of the building and found some Russian who understood just enough English to know what we wanted. He took us in through the back door, behind all the exhibits, and led us to the beginning. About all that I remember of this place is that there were too many pictures of Lenin and a lot of cheesy plastic models of their various Sputnik satellites. So much for that place. We then found the American Pavilion and tried to get in through the back door there, too, because of the long lines. They had a sample of the Moon rocks there that would have been interesting to see. We couldn’t get in, however. We then wandered around a bit, and went through the Pavilion of Saudi Arabia, which was all open and deserted – no line at all. Then we found Heaven! The City of Munich, Bavaria, had a beer garden set up there. That’s where we spent the rest of our time at the 1970 World’s Fair in Osaka. I don’t remember if it was German beer, or Asahi beer they had, though. It tasted great, though. Those reading this should keep in mind that when you’re in your early twenties, in the Navy, and going back to the ‘Real World’ after spending some time on a hospital ship in a war zone, your idea of ‘Culture’ is a lot different from what a regular tourist’s may be. I’m afraid that’s all that I can recall of that trip. From Kobe, the ship sailed to Pearl Harbor and then to Alameda, CA and eventually to Long Beach CA. In August, I got out and went back home.
  8. Introduction and questions

    Hi, I'm new to this list. My name is Paul Neupert, I am 67+ (hence the 'Old Geezer'), and live near Buffalo, NY. While I know very little about World's Fairs and Expos, I was at the one in Osaka Japan in 1970 and will provide some memories of that visit in the Osaka Fair section. I do, however, have a lot of questions about the 1876 U.S. Centennial Expo in Phila., PA. I collect old harmonicas, and I have one that has an unusual design on the cover plates. and I wonder if anyone can identify it. If anyone likes a challenge, this should be one. As soon as I get a chance I will post all the information along with some photos in the appropriate section. I have another one with a picture of a building on it that hopefully can be identified. That will be for another time.
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