© 2005 - 2022 P. Missin - Details

US Patent 627569

Carl Ernest Brown's patent of June 27th 1899 was simply titled "Musical Instrument", but this combination of upright box zither and simple diatonic harmonica was marketed for a few years under the name of Harp-O-Chord. This instrument had three bass strings and three sets of chord strings, presumably tuned so as to give the tonic, subdominant and dominant chords to accompany the melody played on the harmonica that was set into the top of the instrument. This invention was also covered by German Patent 107606, issued the following year. Amazingly enough, there is a another page on the internet devoted to Carl Brown, his Harp-O-Chord and the Harp-O-Chord Company of Columbus, Ohio. It is no surprise to learn that Brown invented many other things, my personal favorite being his foot pumped shower attachment for bath tubs.

Reactions to the Harp-O-Chord were mixed. An 1899 issue of The Music Trades said that it "bids fair to achieve popularity", but the Ashbury Park Press of the same year described it as "an instrument of torture invented by an Ohio man". Brown, however, had no doubts about his instrument's merit and had a sizeable factory built in Columbus for their production and also promised that you could make big money selling them:

He also managed to secure distributors outside of the US:

Sadly, the Harp-O-Chord proved no more popular than most of the other novelty instruments from that time and production came to an end some time in the early 1900s.

Return to Harmonica PatentsReturn to Main Index