Author Topic: Who Invented the Richter System Harmonica?  (Read 508 times)

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Offline John Broecker

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Who Invented the Richter System Harmonica?
« on: February 17, 2023, 12:30:34 PM »
Hello, SlideMeisters.

This was first published by this writer,
in Harp News, the quarterly journal
of the Milwaukee Harmonica Club,
April 2006 edition.

First, we should ask, what is a Richter
System harmonica?

A Richter System harp is a diatonic harp,
10-hole, blues harp reed placement, with
one exhale and one inhale reed per reed
chamber, with 2 reed plates.

It is usually factory-installed in one major key,
but it may also be set in minor keys (natural
minor or harmonic minor).

On a Richter harp, the top reed plate is exhale
reeds, the bottom reed plate is inhale reeds.
This is the definition of the Richter System harps.


The Richter system harps were designed to permit
chordal playing, melody only, or melody and chords
(harmonies). The Richter system has missing scale
notes in holes 2,3 and 10, to allow for simple chords.

According to Martin Haffner and Lars Lindemuller,
in their book, Harmonica Makers of Germany &
Austria,
published by the Deutsches Harmonika
Museum,
Trossingen, Germany, the inventor was
Joseph Richter, of Haidau, (today's Novy Bohr),
Czechoslovakia (today's Czech Republic).

But, there were 2 harmonica makers in Haidau,
at that time. Both were Richters, and possibly
brothers.

Anton Richter (1814-circa 1885), and Joseph
Richter (1812-1881) had separate harmonica
companies. Joseph was a significant maker
of harmonicas, starting his company circa 1828.

That was only 7 years after the first patented
harmonica, the "Aeoline" or Mundaeoline",
a set of pitch pipes, assembled by Christian
Buschmann,
a 16-year-old clockmaker's
apprentice in Berlin, Germany.

In 1867, Joseph moved his company to Regens-
burg, Germany. He is credited with the Richter
system harps first made circa 1857, in Haidau,
possibly earlier.

Joseph, a sign painter by trade, has said that he
toured an accordion factory, and, noticing the way
the bellows were out for one reed plate, and the
bellows in for the other reed plate, he wondered
if the same idea could be used for harmonicas.

The rest, is history.

Both Anton & Joseph were thought to be brothers,
but there is no evidence of that.

It's possible, say Haffner & Lindenmuller, that the
Anton Richter company of Klingenthal, Germany
(1885-'90), may have been a part of the C.A.
Seydel
company, or a sub-contractor,  at that
time. The Anton Richter company was in business
until 1895.

The Joseph Richter company was in business to
shortly after 1900.

Best Regards, Stay Healthy

JB
« Last Edit: February 18, 2023, 10:53:48 AM by John Broecker »
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