A Hupfeld Sinfonie-Jazz Orchestrion, Circa 1927, style No. 19,
Lot 24W
A Hupfeld Sinfonie-Jazz Orchestrion,
Circa 1927, style No. 19,
Sold for US$ 61,000 inc. premium

Lot Details
A Hupfeld Sinfonie-Jazz Orchestrion, Circa 1927, style No. 19, A Hupfeld Sinfonie-Jazz Orchestrion, Circa 1927, style No. 19, A Hupfeld Sinfonie-Jazz Orchestrion, Circa 1927, style No. 19, A Hupfeld Sinfonie-Jazz Orchestrion, Circa 1927, style No. 19,
A Hupfeld Sinfonie-Jazz Orchestrion,
Circa 1927, style No. 19,
Identification numbers:
Piano 181096, Werk 82811 stamped on a brass tag pinned to the left-hand side of the case

With a total of 36 pipes, with eighteen of each for lotus flutes and saxophone, with vibrato function, the piano with mandolin attachment accompanied by nine fox-trot bells, the bass drum with tympani effect, snare drum, tympani-beaters, crash cymbal, tap cymbal, hi-hat cymbal, woodblock with both forte and piano hammers, and triangle, in striking oak cabinet in the Art Deco taste, with plain double-hinged roll-bar doors, the flat and slightly reserved plain pediment over roll-moulded edge, the main central panel diagonally veneered with open squared-fret spandrels, and applied rounded appliqué of a stylised crown with scroll base, flanked by vertical panels with relief carved detail, matching appliqués of diamond lozenges centred by bar-form electroliers with wood mounts, plain hinged keyboard lid bearing the maker's banner title inside, straight square keyboard under-tier supports, on wheels.

With 100 rolls.
8'3" high 5'9"wide 3'deep


  • Provenance:
    Found in a German museum, this instrument was sold to Mr. Mark Yaffe by Mr. Tim Trager.

    The Golden Age of Automatic Musical Instruments, Arthur A. Reblitz, 2001, p.98

    Ron Cappel and Company

    The Hupfeld empire was established in 1892 when Ludwig Hupfeld, a talented mechanic, musician, and businessman, acquired J.M. Grob & Co., of Leipzig. The company went on to sell automatic pianos, organs, and orchestrions and by 1911, when it moved into its immense new factory in Böhlitz-Ehrenberg, it was far and away the largest maker of automatic musical instruments in the world. In the same decade, popular products ranged from the Phonola player piano to various coin pianos and orchestrions to the Phonoliszt-Violina.

    In 1914, the four-year-long Great War put an end to Hupfeld's worldwide exports, and domestic production was curtailed. After the peace treaty of November 1918, the company expanded its efforts, and by the 1920s enjoyed a great business. Products of the decade included the ever-popular Phonola player piano, the Tri-Phonola reproducing piano, the Helios, Pan, and Animatic orchestrions, the Phonoliszt-Violina, and, in time, the Violina-Orchestra and the Sinfonie-Jazz. Each of these was made in multiple models and case variations. The Animatic instruments were made in keyboard (mostly) and cabinet models and generally replaced the much larger Helios and Pan orchestrions.

    In 1924 Hupfeld introduced the metal-pneumatic, a unit valve that was intended to revolutionize the automatic musical instrument business by replacing the traditional wooden valve decks with a mechanism claimed to be more reliable and resistant to the effects of dryness and humidity. An expansion program had been underway, and in addition to its main factory in Böhlitz-Ehrenberg, Hupfeld now owned several piano manufacturers. Good times were beginning to take hold, and it was expected that prosperity, difficult to attain as Germany was suffering from its instigation of the war, would continue.
    Despite new models business was not well with the Hupfeld line of pneumatic instruments. Sales and profits declined, and by 1925 there was a financial crisis. The metal-pneumatic unit valve, installed in many different instruments, developed corrosion problems and turned into a maintenance disaster. Production was halted, and the old wood deck went back into use. This was necessarily done without fanfare, and the only public notice was the lack of further advertising for this supposed innovation.

    By this time the Zimmermann Brothers company had great influence with Hupfeld, as they supplied pianos for the various products. A bank that had outstanding loans with Hupfeld forced the company to merge with Zimmermann. Abruptly, the old era ended and the new began. In 1926 the company was reorganized as Leipziger Pianoforte- und Phonola-Fabriken Hupfeld-Gebr. Zimmermann A.G.
    The Zimmermanns removed Ludwig Hupfeld from management and fired most of the staff involved in making automatic musical instruments. A 1927 brochure included these instruments:

    Animatic Phonoliszt Grand Piano, Model III B (grand piano with expression)
    Animatic Phonoliszt Upright Piano Model 12
    Animatic Phonoliszt Upright Piano Model 8
    Animatic-Clavitist Model 19, Sinfonie-Jazz Orchestra
    (usually called the
    Sinfonie-Jazz Model 19)
    Animatic-Clavitist Model 21
    Helios-Piano Model 21
    (keyboard model; no longer were the Class I to III models being made)
    Kino-Pan (Pan Orchestra components in a low-profile cabinet, with double roll changer, for film accompaniment)
    Phonoliszt-Violina Model B (the A had been discontinued by this time)
    Violina-Orchestra Model I (in oak case, no keyboard, based on the Phonoliszt-Violina, with added instruments including pipes, fitted with a distant blower; no original examples exist. Likely the Model II, with keyboard, was available, but not illustrated.)
    Violin-Pipe Piano (keyboard style with case extension).

    At the time, a few other models were offered as well, such as different case designs. The Sinfonie-Jazz was one of the most popular of these late models. Versions are known to have included the Model 9, Model 10, and the Model 19, the last being the largest in the line.
    By the end of the 1920s, the phonograph and, in particular, the radio had diminished the market for automatic pianos and orchestrions to close to the vanishing point, a situation that was true of America as well. At the autumn 1928 Leipzig Trade Fair, the Hupfeld displays included a Sinfonie Jazz Orchestra No. 10, a Helios Piano with lotus flute and saxophone, an Atlantic piano orchestrion, a Pan Orchestra, and a Violina Orchestra.

    On Sunday, January 13, 1929, there was a huge fire at the Hupfeld factory. Although extensive damage was done, manufacturing continued for most products, but it is likely that the Sinfonie-Jazz Model 19 had been discontinued by this time. In 1930, the line included the Phonola player piano, Tri-Phonola reproducing piano, Animatic coin pianos and orchestrions, radios, disc phonographs, Radiosonant loudspeakers, Rola table billiards, Biophonola film-sound apparatus, and Hupfeld solo and orchestral pipe organs. An organ installed in the Capitol Theatre in Leipzig drew wide attention, although the Hupfeld theatre organ business was started too late ever amount to much.
    At the Leipzig Trade Fair in the spring of 1932, the Sinfonie-Jazz Orchestrion with Tango Accordion was displayed, possibly the last orchestrion model made by the company. At the same event the Rotoplex-Anlage combination record player and radio that could store 32 discs, Hupfeld-Atlantic and Hupfeld-Kobus loudspeakers, Rola billiard tables (small, for home use), and other products were shown.

    Rolls with 98 holes were specially made for the Sinfonie Jazz, numbered in a series from 50,000, to 61,000, of the Animatic type—a line of coin-operated Hupfeld pianos and orchestrions—but for this instrument, with a special SJ prefix. Most rolls were arranged to emphasize the lotus flute rank, a series of tremulant flute pipes, which when played solo and one note at a time produced a haunting melody with attractive vibrato effects.
    The Sinfonie-Jazz was popular in its time, and although the production quantity is not known today, it probably involved at least several hundred instruments. Dance halls, restaurants, cafés, and hotels were among the most popular customers. The Style 19 was the top of the line with regard to popular models, but smaller versions were marketed as well.
    It may be the case the Sinfonie-Jazz rolls were the last made at the Hupfeld for any orchestrions. The latest roll bulletin seen, issued in 1933, had three new offerings, SJ 60185 to 60187, the last being the Argonne March.

    It is perhaps quite fitting that in the closing years of the automatic mechanical instrument manufacturing era, the world was entering what was to be referred to later as 'The Electric Age'. Most houses were connected to a national electricity supply towards the end of the 1920s and although light and heat were the primary uses within the home, there was always space in the rooms of larger and richer addresses for the odd unusual and interesting luxury.

    This instrument is a fine example of one of the last machines made in the midst of the closing years of the golden age – a satisfying conclusion of a long career for the builders of these fascinating machines.
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