Sohmer & Company
National Museum of American History
P.O. Box 37012
MRC 601/Room 1100
Washington, DC 20013-7012
43 cu. ft.: 21 document boxes; 53 flat oversize boxes; 11 oversize folders.
When Sohmer & Co. was founded in 1872 by Hugo Sohmer and his partner Joseph Kuder, it became one of 171 piano manufacturers in New York City. Over the next 110 years, Sohmer & Co. was one of the few active and successful family-owned and operated piano-making ventures in the United States. Nationally known for tonal quality and fine craftmanship, the firm's product, in the music trade, came to be referred to as "The Piano-Maker's Piano." Upon the death of Hugo Sohmer in 1913, his son, Harry J. Sohmer, assumed company leadership. In 1940 Harry incorporated the company and upon his death in 1971, his son, Harry J. Sohmer, Jr., became president. When Sohmer & Co. was purchased by the Pratt Read Corporation in 1982, it moved to Ivoryton, Conn., and left Steinway & Sons as the only piano manufacturer in New York. In 1986 the Ivoryton factory was sold to Sohmer,which continued to make pianos there until a lack of skilled workers and financial losses forced its closing, Dec. 1988. In 1989 the Sohmer company was sold to the Falcone Custom Grand Piano Company, Haverhill, Massachusetts. Financial records, 1895-1962 : Includes journals, general ledgers, and private ledgers. Marketing records, 1901 to as late as 1983, include catalogs, brochures, fliers and postcards published by Sohmer. Advertising records, 1880-1989, include art work and mechanicals, reprints, proof sheets, and scrapbooks of advertisements. They reflect Sohmer & Co.'s heavy dependence on advertising. Early scrapbooks also include newspaper clippings relating to Hugo Sohmer s brother William and his activities in New York City politics. No corporate records, personnel records (including payroll and job desriptions), articles of incorporation, executive records, minutes, or annual reports. Photographs: Pictures of company personnel, activities, and facilities, and celebrities seated at Sohmer pianos. There is little correspondence. Correspondence: Small amount, consisting primarily of testimonial letters of satisfied Sohmer customers.