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Wurlitzer 1880 Catalog
Wurlitzer 1882 Catalog
Wurlitzer 1893 Catalog
Wurlitzer 1898 Journal
Wurlitzer 1908 Journal
Wurlitzer 1910 Journal
Wurlitzer 1929 Catalog

Wurlitzer Instruments


Cincinnati, OH



The roots of the Wurlitzer family dates back to the 17th century. Wurlitzer Logo

In 1853, The Wurlitzer family arrived in Cincinnati, having already been skilled at the manufacturer of musical instruments.

In 1856, Rudolph Wurlitzer founded The Wurlitzer Co. as a dealer and opened outlets in several cities. And, he started making pianos in 1880. 1865 opened in Chicago. 1872, brother Anton joined and they became Wurlitzer Bros. In 1890 incorporated as Rudolph Wurlitzer Co

Besides Rudolph, but there was also E.H. Wurlitzer of Boston, who was an instrument maker that was bought out in 1901 by, and became a partner with Harry Bettony. Bettony took over his former bosss company, which became Cundy-Bettony.

The original Wurlitzer Lyric trombones were produced before 1906 and read Made by Rudolph Wurlitzer on the bell. Starting in 1906 they read Lyric, Wurlitzer and were made by Conn.

  • 1853 Franz Rudolph Wurlitzer (1831-1914) emigrates from Saxony to Cincinatti
  • 1857 Rudolph Wurlitzer, bookkeeper, #96 Main St. (he establishes an instrument importing business this year)
  • 1861 R.W., musical instruments, #123 Main St., upstairs; brother Anton Frances Wurlitzer (1839-1901) has now joined him as a clerk
  • 1865 a branch opens in Chicago on Wabash Ave.
  • 1867 brother Constantine (1846-1934) immigrates to US and joins them as a clerk
  • 1868 moves to #115 Main St.
  • 1872 now R. Wurlitzer & Bro., #115 Main St., with Anton
  • 1880 W. & Bro., #115 Main St., manufacturer & importer of musical instruments, regular & ‘Excelsior’ models of brass
  • 1889 son Howard Eugene Wurlitzer (1871-1928) joins the company and develops the organ business
  • 1891 moves to #23 W. 4th St. and incorp. as R. Wurlitzer Co.
  • 1893 offering ‘Cincinnati’, ‘Courtois’, ‘Professional’, & ‘Besson’ model cornets as well as ‘Amateur Superior’ & ‘Popular Superior’ trombones
  • 1894 son Rudolph Henry Wurlitzer (1873-1948) joins the company as director & develops the violin dept.
  • 1896 moves to #117-121 East 4th St.
  • 1899 Anton retires
  • 1904 son Farny Reginald Wurlitzer (1883-1972) joins the company as a sales rep after studying manufacturing in Germany
  • 1912 Rudolph retires as president; Howard takes his place
  • 1914 a branch opens in San Francisco, CA, #985 Market St.
  • 1925 offering Martin Handcraft instruments as well as their own ‘Lyric’ and ‘Professional’ model brass, the ‘Innovation’ trumpet, the new ‘Melody’ trumpet, and the new ‘Vocal’ cornet in C/Bb/A; Chicago store at #329-331 S. Wabash; NYC store at #120 W. 42nd; SF store at #250 Stockton; LA store at #814-818 S. Broadway
  • 1927 son Rudolph Henry becomes president
  • 1929 offering the new ‘Master’ trumpets & trombones by Martin as well as their own ‘Lyric’ & ‘Professional’ models
  • 1931 son Farny becomes president
  • 1941 the main office is moved to Chicago and R. C. Rolfing becomes president
  • 1967 William Herleman becomes president
  • 1969 The Wurlitzer Co., #375 Boylston St., Boston

Brass Instruments:

  • R. Wurlitzer: 1857-1871, probably all German imports
  • R. Wurlitzer & Bro.: 1872-1890, probably all German imports
  • R. Wurlitzer Co.: 1891-1940, these are a mixture of domestic and imported instruments; models include ‘Monarch’, ‘Perfection’, ‘Lyric’, ‘Lyric Liberty’, ‘Lyric Victory’ (probably after WWI),
  • ‘American’, ‘Majestic’, ‘Artist Special’,
  • ‘Professional’ (if serial number starts with ‘P’ then made by Pan American),
  • ‘Symphony’ (if there is an anchor or ‘B&F’ on the middle valve then made by Bohland & Fuchs of Austria), and ‘Melodie’.

All brass that I have found photos of date to c.1940 or earlier with very few past the 1920s so perhaps they got out of the band instrument business during the Depression and focused instead on the organs.

Repair shop in 1898

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