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JJul 16, 2009 2:16 AM GMT
Anyone know anything about gretsch harmonicas? My wifes' grandfather played one when he was in the Navy; it's stamped with made in Germany-US Zone. He has since passed and I never herd him play(I bareley got to know him.)
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Gretsch is an American company, the rock a billy archtops and all that. We can assume Gretsch didn't make it, but had it made by Kostler.
Kostler was originally an ethnic German company in Czechoslavakia in the 1880s or 1890s. After World War II, the Russians kicked all the Germans out of Czechoslavakia, since Hitler's reason for taking over the Sudatenland was there were so many Germans living there, back to the old Kaiser Wilhelm II's creed "Ein Volk, Ein Reich" and whatnot.
So, Kostler had to go. They tried to get absorbed into Hohner, that didn't work, so the Kostler family went to Hesse, which was in the U.S. Zone. This turned out to be a pretty sweet move for Kostler, cause Hohner was in the French zone and all their harps had to be delivered to the French garrison. Thus, Kostler was in the premiere position to sell harps to the U.S. So when Gretsch wanted a harmonica, there was really only one place to get it, from Kostler.
By the 1950s, Kostler started making electric organs and stuff. But in the 1960s, musical instruments declined worldwide, I suppose because of TV, This is the point where a lot of folks went out of business. Kostler, instead, reinvented itself and gradually shifted to making plastic automobile parts. THey made their last haps around 1973.
Your harp, since it says U.S. Zone, would have been made from 1946-1949 and most likely in 1948 or 1949.
Kostler is still in business, making automobile parts.
I just saw a Gretsch on Ebay. It was a Swing Band. Definitely Kostler.