So, went antiquing today...

Decided since my wife really likes doing this, and it is kinda neat, might as well look for some stuff I like as well. Looked for harmonicas, pipes, other instruments, comics, old books, that kind of stuff.

Anyway, found an old American Ace harp. Its in F, in the original box. FR Hotz is the manufacturer.

After doing a bit of searching when I got home, I found out FR Hotz was bought out by Hohner in the early 20th century but the acted as an independent company until the late 20’s. I also discovered that the American Ace is still manufactured by Hohner as a cheaper, kinda specialty harp.

Was interested to know though if anyone could give any more details on the company or harp itself. Any databases out there on vintage harps? Mine is in the original box, but the box has suffered some obvious issues over the years. Most of the boxes have pictures of planes on them, the plane being from around each time period, starting with bi-planes and now having a modern fighter jet. My box is missing the plane pic, but other patterns on the box show it could be an earlier biplane box.

It has a wood comb (red). The reed plates are showing some pretty good tarnish and there is some on the plate covers in a few spots.

It still sounds pretty decent, though the 1 hole draw does sound a bit flat. Can’t really tell yet since I was hesitant to do any real playing until I can clean the thing up.

Anyway, just wondering if anyone had any info.


Hohner had a habit of buying up companies and using their names on their cheaper harps. If it is an antique (by that I mean 1950s or 1960s) it will have been made in Ireland. but if it’s a biplane, I don’t know. It could go either way.

The Hotz company ended in 1930, it was bought out by Hohner and the old Hotz factory became a Hohner branch factory, but the Hotz people were still there and F.R. Hotz’s grandkids were managing it. Kind of in the same way Hohner used to own Hering. At what point Hohner closed it down, I don’t know. I would suspect that they didn’t reopen it after World War II. The ones from Ireland appear to have been made starting in the 1950s. As far as labor costs go, Ireland was the China of the 1950s.

Either way, it was made by the Hotz folks, I’m sure. Whether they were owned by Hohner at the time, I don’t know. Can I see some pics?

F.R. Hotz was the hot dog back in the 1800s. It was the first company that Hohner copied. Back in the 1860s or so, Hohner quality wasn’t that great and they looked at Hotz’s designs to improve their own stuff. There was a lot of junk floating around in those days, and Hohner was relieved to find something decent he could copy.

Hotz was founded around 1830. That makes it one of the very first harmonica companies. Hotz was located in Knittlingen, Germany. I don’t know if you are familiar with octave harmonicas, but they are two harmonicas - one per reedplate seperated by a divider. There is a blow and draw reed in each hole - blow and draw are on the same reedplate. One of the harmonicas is exactly one octave lower than the other.
Anyway, Hotz invented this harmonica. That design is called Knittlinger. The comb is pretty thick, with a divider in the middle. Each hole has a blow and draw reed. Tremolos use a different design, called the Vienna system, invented by the Wilhelm Thie company in Vienna. It has one reed in each hole.

Back to Knittlinger, with a blow-draw reed in each hole. Hohner, like everybody else, copied this comb. It was used primarily for octave harmonicas.
Around 1910, Hohner took Hotz’s comb to solve a problem as old as the harmonica itself - how to make a practical chromatic. There have been chromatics as long as there have been harmonicas, but there was a need for a simpler one. Hotz’s design had two harmonicas - tuned one octave apart. Hohner took this Knittlinger design and instead put two harmonicas tuned one half step apart, with a slide to channel air to one or another.
Chromatic harmonicas still use the Hotz comb design. The XB 40 also uses it and you’ll find it of course, still on octave harmonicas, like the Seydel Concerto and Hohner Auto Valve. Not all octave harmonicas have used the Knittlinger comb - I have a Seydel from the 1920s that uses Vienna - but it has typically been Knittlinger for octaves and Vienna for tremolos. I think this is only due to the legacy of the two companies - Hotz invented the octave harp, Thie invented the tremolo.

That’s probably more than you wanted to know about Hotz, but that’s the Hotz legacy. Anything specific you’d like to know about the Hotz company?

Thanks for the reply!

Good info.

This is the type of harmonica I was talking about. Knittlinger style. It is Hotz’s true legacy.
Elk River Bluesified Concerto Demonstration Key: A

Most popular ones on the site. It allows me to meet and talk to many people who came to share the experience

Cool Dave. Thanks for the demo.