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Seydel Harmonicas

 
 
 
Beginnings- around 1847

In the 17th century the Seydel family were miners in Sachsenberg-Georgenthal / Saxony.

When mining was discontinued in Saxony Vogtland, the brothers Johann Christian Seydel and Christian August Seydel began working as instrument makers.

Both subsequently became approved harmonica makers. This was decreed by the court of Untersachsenberg on October 27th, 1847.
The certificate contains the first documented reference to the company, with Christian August Seydel being registered as the company founder.
The factory was established in Klingenthal at the foot of the famous 'Aschberg' (literally ‘Ash Mountain’) and was to become one of the biggest harmonica factories in the whole of Saxony.
In 1882 C.A. Seydel died and his son Richard took over.

One year later his brother Moritz joined them and from that day the company was named 'C.A.Seydel Söhne'. (C.A. Seydel and Sons).
 
 
1880-1914
 
From 1880 to World War 1 - Seydel allover the world.

Early in the 1870s C.A. Seydel made some connections to North America, which were strengthened by his sons Richard and Moritz.

By the 1890s, Seydel harmonicas were being sold around the world.”

 
During World War One
 
 
The factories grew and extended steadily, until towards the end of World War
One, Seydel's son-in-law, Hugo Bischoffsberger and his sons Emil, Hugo and
Curt inherited the factory.

During the war, as the only instruments a soldier could carry around with
him and play, harmonicas had become urgent war supplies!


Both sides of the line, the men accompanied their songs with a harmonica and
could even play the Blues - although they couldn't have known at the time
how important that term would become
 
 
Seydel in Australia

In Australia, SEYDEL developed a special relationship with a legendary music-store chain to create an Australian cultural icon. In 1902, Frank Albert took over Albert's Music Stores and began importing instruments. Albert began creating a “Boomerang” series of products in the late 1890s, and, after World War I ended, chose C.A. SEYDEL SÖHNE to manufacture a line of harmonicas for sale in the Australian music stores.

According to Albert's, now a music-industry giant in Australia, the relationship between Albert's and SEYDEL began in the 1890s. The first Boomerang harmonicas were made in 1924. Thanks to the quality of the instruments and Albert's keen marketing skills, the Boomerang became a resounding success for both companies.

Albert send the templates for the Boomerang to Germany by ship and he and SEYDEL management became close friends over the many years of their working relationship.

There were multiple versions of the Boomerang, from standard-looking diatonics to double-reed instruments and diatonics similar to the Bandmaster only featuring Boomerang-shaped megaphone vents in the covers. There was even a Boomerang chromatic.
That relationship continued even after World War II, when SEYDEL was a nationalized company behind the Iron Curtain. Seydel continued creating Boomerang models until Albert's death in 1962.

 
Between the wars -1918 to 1939

Richard Seydel had been the exclusive owner of the company since 1910.
His sons and his son in law, Hugo Bischoffsberger, had been his assistants
and after the First World War, which had destroyed almost all of their
trading connections, they took over the leadership of the company.

They had to fight to recover their sales position from nearly zero.

However, success began to follow with at least 800 factory and home workers
being employed.

In 1925 Richard Seydel died.
The following years were to become very hard ones for the whole domestic
musical instrument industry, which hit rock bottom in the years 1929/30.
The situation forced a merger with three other domestic companies, however
the arrangement didn't last.

After 1931 the situation improved again. A new boom occurred and the
increasing number of employees was a measure of the success. During this
time the 'Boomerang' became a bestseller.
 
World War 2 - era of the women

After the beginning of World War 2 Hugo Bischofsberger was called up to join the army.

That left two women in charge of the company. From 1939 Margarete Seydel and Hedwig Bischoffberger became the chairmen.

Hedwig had joined the factory business a long time before - she had been the right hand woman of her former boss.
 
After 1946
 
1947 the company is about to celebrate a great event:

100 years of Seydel harmonicas

However, the split of Germany into an Eastern and Western part will become bitter reality for the two owner families:

Under Russian occpation the the company is declared to be under gouvernmental administration.
Shortly afterwards it's named VEB plant 5 of the Klingenthal Harmonika Works. Then in 1953, together with other formerly private companies, the VEB Harmona (United Harmonica works) was created, which operated separately from the larger Klingenthal Harmonica Works.
In 1964, when harmonica demand was very low, VEB Harmona was merged with the VEB Klingenthal Harmonica Works.

Diversification ended and there were only a few models produced, but in huge quantities.
It is said, that the production was delivered by weight in containers.

Up to 400 people worked in the old factory on the bottom of Aschberg and during the 1950s a new extension was built, which is the home of Seydel's current production.
 
 
Reunification (after 1989)
 
 
Forty years after the reunification of Germany, politics again would write the history of the company:
In July 1991, the harmonica factory was returned to the family.
With the remaining tools, production was restarted. With the money pumped into Eastern Germany after reunification, a restoration of the newer factory building was possible.

Because of a drop out of the entire eastern market, the number of employees was decreasing constantly. However, in spite of the dismal business, a remarkable process began that would define the company‘s future:
Works manager Karl Pucholt recognized that the key to success for the young 'old' company was in the very niche markets the established Western competition had ignored for years.
Pucholt developed a new plastic comb, wonderful ergonomic coverplates and had reedplates produced that were more than one octave lower than the usual tonal spectrum of a Diatonic harmonica.
Seydel had occupied its first niche!


Now, there was enough time for employees to build custom tunings on demand and Seydel had found another service without competition.
As company’s image improved among top players, so did their requests for our special instruments.
However, these developments came much to late. In November 2004, the company became insolvent.
 
 
The Comeback

In November 2004 the insolvency of the company with its traditional manufacturing methods had become public and nobody would have bet even one cent on its future survival.
Literally at the last minute an investor was found: the music enthusiasts of Niama Media.

Everybody was impressed by the loyal attitude of the staff, they kept holding on and kept the company going, though the loan hadn't been paid for months.

Everyone in the investors group realized the importance of preserving the companies nearly 160-year history and its important role in the weak economic infrastructure of the Klingenthal community. They wholeheartedly supported the harmonica manufacturing and fostered a determination that, in the future, the company should be one of the best.


An ideal chairman was found in the person of mangement expert Lars Seifert, a young native of Klingenthal.

The priority now is for retooling which is quickly under way.
Seydel has the ambition to be a company that produces for the individual customizer - the possibilities for ordering different custom tunings will be upgraded and the product line will be aligned to the very top of the market.
In addition an efficient distribution system will be built up - all of these approaches together will guarantee the motto of the company:

My Sound, my Seydel.
 

 

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