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The Manufacturers of Automated Instruments from Leipzig - Products and Patents between 1876 and 1930


Catalogue by Birgit Heise

Translation: Maria Heyne

This database contains approximately 600 pages of text and provides complete listings and descriptions of the manufacturers of automated instruments from Leipzig in the German language.
Organized by makers, the following information is presented:

  • Manufacturers’ names, including all name changes
  • All addresses
  • Information regarding the companies’ history
  • Prizes and awards
  • Trademarks
  • Information regarding the company owner as well as other important people
  • Business details such as net profit and capital stock
  • publications existantes concernant la firme
  • Published literature covering the company

The reader has the option of searching by entering either the name of the manufacturer or the name of a specific person. Results will include all data and facts (see company name index). A search by product is possible as well (product index), if, for example, the maker of the instrument is unknown.

We appreciate any further information regarding the companies and products and kindly ask you to use the "contact" link.


In addition to company-specific publications including numerous sales catalogues (i.e. catalogues of Ernst Holzweißig succ.), the following materials have been used to build the database:

Address books of the city of Leipzig between 1876 and 1930 (LAB)
Public records in the city archives
Company Assets in the Sächsischen Staatsarchiv (Saxony State Archives)
Chamber of commerce reports
World address books of the musical instrument industry by Paul de Wit 1890-1926
Journal of instrument making (Paul de Wit, Leipzig, since 1880)

Leipzig as a production center for automated instruments

Between 1880 and 1930, Leipzig experienced a period of growth that was exceptional for the central European area. The city, which has a long-standing tradition of making keyboard and wind instruments, became a world-renown production center of automated instruments. This development brought about economical as well as cultural advantages and took place in two steps. Between 1880 and 1900, numerous kinds of perforated disc players dominated the market. Between 1900 and 1920, thousands of pneumatic pianos and piano orchestrions were distributed from Leipzig. Automated instruments from Leipzig were considered a worthy acquisition for half a century, as can be seen from these figures:

  • More than 100 specialized companies existed in this field in Leipzig; between 20 and 30 factories produced simultaneously. Additionally, there were local delivery companies for keys, mechanics, motors etc.
  • Several companies, employing between 300 and 1500 workers, were among the largest of their kind (POLYPHON, HUPFELD, POPPER, SYMPHONION, LÖSCHE, ADLER, PAUL EHRLICH).
  • The core companies (excluding the delivery companies) employed roughly 3500 workers before the First World War.
  • In 1887 alone, approximately 52,000 automated instruments were manufactured by the three largest companies in Leipzig; roughly half of them were exported to all parts of the world.
  • Approximately 700 models of automated instruments (including approx. 300 musical combs, 200 pianos and orchestrions, as well as 70 organettes) were developed.
  • Roughly 1000 patents and registered patterns came from Leipzig.

Which types of musical instruments came from Leipzig?

1. Organetten



Organettes with perforated discs were developed in 1882 by Paul Ehrlich in Leipzig, the main production location. The automated free reed aerophone instruments contained wind channels and bellows. A crank operated both the bellows and the part of the instrument containing musical information (disc, perforated band, cylinder, and others). The opening and closing of the valves for tone production was automated with the help of a lever mechanism, which was set in motion whenever the disc (or cloth) moving above it contained a hole corresponding to the respective tone. Most models were equipped with a range between 16 and 26 pitches and operated with the use of air suction.
Especially the organettes of PAUL EHRLICH, but also those of PHÖNIX and EUPHONIKA, were distributed worldwide. Most models of these makers were sold as table (jewel case) instruments. The cases of the instruments of all three makers had similar characteristics. The range of the PAUL EHRLICH 16 (Helikon) included up to 36 pitches (Salon-Ariston), the PHÖNIX 14 (all children’s instruments) could produce up to 42 tones, and the EUPHONIKA ranged between 16 and 36 pitches. The reeds were made from brass or steel; better models were equipped with high-quality free reeds imported from the USA. Experts, however, were able to distinguish the instruments of the different makers. PHÖNIX instruments were said to have the most pleasant timbre, the Aristons made by PAUL EHRLICH were best known due their huge disc repertoire, and EUPHONIKA distinguished themselves by means of volume and effects, such as dancing figurines.

Organette models produced in Leipzig including production start and manufacturers:

1876 Fabrik Leipziger Musikwerke vormals PAUL EHRLICH Orchestrionette
1881 Fabrik Leipziger Musikwerke vormals PAUL EHRLICH Non plus ultra
1882 Fabrik Leipziger Musikwerke vormals PAUL EHRLICH Ariston
1886 Leipziger Musikwerke PHÖNIX Phönix
1891 Leipziger Musikwerke PHÖNIX Laetitia, Ariosa
1896 Leipziger Musikwerke EUPHONIKA Amorette
1897 Leipziger Musikwerke PHÖNIX Intona
1901 Zimmermann, Julius Heinrich Orgophon
1904 Ehrlichs Musikwerke Emil Ehrlich Ehrlichs Instrument Nr.7
1905 Leipziger Musikwerke PHÖNIX Diana
1905 Neue Leipziger Musikwerke Adolf BUFF-HEDINGER Empire
1906 Neue Leipziger Musikwerke Adolf BUFF-HEDINGER Ariston, Helikon Z, Monopol
1909 Leipziger Musikwerke PHÖNIX Lucia
1912 Holzweissig, Ernst Amorette
1913 Leipziger Musikwerke PHÖNIX Otero
1920 Holzweissig, Ernst Diana, Intona, Phönix, Ariosa

2. Automated Harmonicas 

An accordion (bandoneón or concertina) was used to create sounds. The discs and cylinders were set in motion by clockworks or a mechanism coupled with the bellow movement (“Nuremberg scissors”). Similar to the organettes, the opening and closing of the air channels was automated through the use of stechers and claves.
The accordion bellows allowed the player to regulate the volume by adjusting the strength of the push and pull. The otherwise pre-set music could thus be interpreted somewhat individually, which proved to be an advantage to other automated instruments such as the organette.

Older models of the brands Sonatina and Euphonika were operated with round perforated discs. However, as with other perforated disc players, the piece of music only lasted one full rotation of the disc and would then start from the beginning. It is thus not surprising that continuously successful sales were not achieved until the introduction of the Tanzbär (“Dancing Bear”). The paper music rolls allowed for a much longer playing time. Another advantage was the innovative operation: the usage of an additional crank (Ratschenhebel) allowed for the perforated strips to unroll independently from the bellow motion, which in turn made it possible for the player to regulate tempo in addition to volume.

Leipzig manufacturers, product names, and date of production start:

1895 Leipziger Musikwerke SONATINA Sonatina
1896 Leipziger Musikwerke EUPHONIKA Euphonika
1905 (ca.) Zuleger, A Tanzbär


3. Automated Harmoniums

A conventional harmonium, often using suction airflow, served as the resonator. Similar to automated pianos, perforated discs or music rolls were used in Leipzig during the 1890s; after 1900, only harmoniums using music rolls were produced. The transition from the music roll to the valve was done mechanically in earlier models and pneumatically after 1900 with the use of a perforated music roll.

Mechanically operated Harmoniums

Leipzig manufacturers, product names (when available), and date of production start:

1887 Grob, J.M. (Klavier- und Harmonium-Vorsetzer)
1888 Fabrik Leipziger Musikwerke vormals PAUL EHRLICH Daimonion (Klavier-Harmonium)
1892 Hupfeld, Ludwig  


Pneumatically operated Harmoniums 

Leipzig manufacturers, product names (when available), and date of production start:

1908(ca.) Hörügel, M.  
1908 Popper, Polyphon Mystikon, Klavier-Harmonium
1910 Mannborg  
1910 Neue Leipziger Musikwerke Adolf BUFF-HEDINGER Premier
1910 Hofberg, Magnus Hofbergs Auto-Harmonium
1913(ca.) Hupfeld, Ludwig Clavimonium (Klavier-Harmonium)
1914(ca.) Popper Estrella
1914 Hofberg, Magnus Combinations-Auto-Harmonium
1920(ca.) Zuleger, A. Harmonola
1926(ca.) Hörügel, M. Hera

4. Musical Combs

The musical comb (tone comb, comb reeds) is the only resonator constructed exclusively for automated instruments. Vibrating reeds of different length and weight are cut out of a steel plate and sound when struck. While this comb had already been used in Swiss music boxes since 1820, it was first combined with round perforated discs in Leipzig. Rotating cogwheels (Sternenrädchen) were thus set into motion, and in turn struck the comb reeds to produce sounds. The discs, which were between 11 and 85 cm in diameter, were mostly made from steel.
Thiese types of mechanic disc players were invented by Paul Lochmann (→SYMPHONION) in Leipzig, the main center of production. With the invention of the Sternenrädchen cogwheels (patent in Great Britain only, patent no. 11261 of September 22, 1885), the expedient connection between perforated disc and musical comb could be accomplished. From small jewelry boxes to crank-operated cupboards with clockworks: These types of disc players sold successfully all over the world. Lochmann thus created an entire branch of industry with several thousand workers.

Additionally, musical comb disc players with collapsible boxes featuring a much longer playing time were produced in Leipzig.

Leipzig manufacturers of perforated disc players with product names and start of production:

1886 Symphonion Symphonion
1890 Brachhausen & Rießner Polyphon
1890 Fabrik Leipziger Musikwerke vormals PAUL EHRLICH Elly
1891 Orphenion-Musikwerke Lyraphon
1892 Orphenion-Musikwerke Orphenion
1893 Fabrik Leipziger Musikwerke vormals PAUL EHRLICH Monopol
1894 Komet Musikwerke Komet
1894 Neumann, A. Enterpephon
1895 Kalliope Musikwerke Kalliope
1895 Polyphon Polyphon
1896 Adler Adler
1896 Sirion Sirion
1896 Weigel, C.H.  
1897 Musikwerke Orpheus Orpheus
1897 Fabrik mechanischer Musikwerke Troubadour Troubadour
1898 Musikwerke Tannhäuser Tannhäuser
1898 Troubadour Musikwerke Troubadour
1899 Original Musikwerke Paul Lochmann Original
1900 Adler Fortuna
1900 Zimmermann, J.H. Fortuna
1901 Phänomenal-Musikwerke Phänomenal

Leipzig manufacturers of collapsible box disc players with product names and start of production:

1891 Fabrik Müllerscher Musikwerke Hymnophon
1891 Plagwitzer Musikwerke ARIOPHON Ariophon
1891 Leipziger Musikwerke LIBELLION Libellion






5. Mechanically operated Zithers 


This mechanically operated instrument is based on a zither without fingerboard. Controlled by perforated discs or music rolls, the strings of the instrument were caused to vibrate to an extend that allowed for the production of sounds similar to those of the concert zither. The Chordephon zither, made by a company with the same name, enjoyed long-lasting success. The crank-operated instrument, which used perforated discs as well as clockworks, was available with 30, 44, or 60 strings. 

Leipzig manufacturers and their products with start of production:

1892 Hupfeld, Ludwig Cymbalpianette
1895 Hupfeld, Ludwig Arpanetta
1895 Fabrik mechanischer Zithern Chordephon Chordephon
1922 Popper Triola




6. Mechanically operated Percussion Instruments


Automated percussion instruments manufactured in Leipzig mainly consisted of children’s toys. Boys’ and children’s ensembles mainly used mechanically operated bell lyres (portable glockenspiels) and small, crank operated drums in order to produce automated march rhythms and drum rolls. These bell lyres and automated drums completed small marching bands and could be operated by any child regardless of their skills in drumming and music reading. 

Leipzig manufacturers of glockenspiels and their product names with start of production:

1896 Uhlig, Schwerin & co Kaleidophon
1906 Leipziger Musikwerke EUPHONIKA Glockenspiel

Leipzig manufacturers of mechanically operated drums with start of production:

1903 Meinel, Ottomar  
1904 Apollo Musikwerke  
1905 Herkules-Musikwerke  




7. Automated String Instruments


Between 1884 and 1930, Leipzig produced 28 patents and 38 registered patterns for mechanically operated string instruments. However, few of these ideas were realized. The Pentaphon bowed zither (POLYPHON) was popular for some time, but the automated violins by DIENST and POPPER hardly sold. One exception was the Violina made by HUPFELD; genuine violins with revolving horsehair bows (circular bows) were a highlight in the production of automated instruments and hence remained in demand until about 1930.

Instruments made in Leipzig with start of production and manufacturers:



Pentaphon, Polyphon-Streichmusikwerk
1907 Popper Animochord
1908 Hupfeld, Ludwig Violina

Dienst, E.

Dienst’s selbstspielende Geige
1930 Popper Violinovo





8. Mechanically operated Pianos, Player Pianos and Vorsetzer



8.1. Mechanically operated Pianos and Piano Players (Vorsetzer)

Starting in 1887, automated pianos operated by perforated discs were produced in Leipzig. Earlier models featured a box (Vorsetzer), which would be placed in front of the piano. The automated player piano contained between 24 and 36 playing levers, which functioned as pianist fingers. The disc could be set into motion with the rotation of a crank. The playing levers would jump into the stamped out holes and thus strike the keys lying underneath forcefully. Playing forte and piano was somewhat limited.
Starting in 1892, Leipzig factories produced automated pianos with integrated mechanics inside the instruments. Instead of discs, perforated strips made from paper and cardboard were used.

Leipzig manufacturers and their models with start of production:

1887 Grob, J.M Clavierspieler
1887 Fabrik Leipziger Musikwerke vormals Paul Ehrlich Clavier-Automat
1892 Hupfeld, Ludwig Klavierspieler



Selbstspielende Klaviere

1888 Fabrik Leipziger Musikwerke vormals Paul Ehrlich Daimonion (mit Harmonium)
1892 Fabrik Leipziger Musikwerke vormals Paul Ehrlich Drehpiano
1892 Hupfeld, Ludwig Mechanisches Klavier
1907 (ca.) Hupfeld, Ludwig Elektrisches Klavier
1912 Original Musikwerke Paul Lochmann Original-Orchester-Klavier Nr. 50

8.2. Pneumatic Vorsetzer and Player Pianos

Due to their monotonous timbre, mechanically operated pianos were not suited for the interpretation of challenging masterpieces. Nuanced, individual key pressure was made possible with the use of pneumatic mechanics using air suction and perforated paper rolls.
The bellows were operated by either two foot pedals (similar to the harmonium), or via a motor. While the American-made Pianola became increasingly popular toward the end of the 19th century, similar instruments had been manufactured in Leipzig since 1900.
Certain player pianos, such as the Phonola by HUPFELD, required a certain amount of artistic skill. The playing of the music roll could be influenced with the use of the pedals and various levers controlling volume and tempo (“artistic playing”).
“Reproductive playing”, however, required no further operation in addition to listening. With the introduction of the DEA System in 1907, HUPFELD created a reproductive piano of the highest standards. Some later models, including, for example, the 1920 Triphonola by HUPFELD, allowed for both artistic and reproductive playing.

Leipzig manufacturers and models with start of production:

1901 Frömsdorf, R. & co. Pianetta
1901 Hupfeld, Ludwig Phonola
1903 Apollo Musikwerke  
1904 Ehrlichs Musikwerke Emil Ehrlich Phonabella
1904 Stichel, F. Claviola
1905 Neue Leipziger Musikwerke Adolf Buff-Hedinger Premier
1906 Neue Leipziger Musikwerke Adolf Buff-Hedinger Playola
1906 Ehrlichs Musikwerke Emil Ehrlich Orphobella
1906 Pianotist Pianotist









1899 Paul Ehrlich  
1899 Frömsdorf Helios
1904 Hupfeld Phonoliszt, Universal
1905 Hupfeld Phonoliszta, Clavitist
1906 Neue Leipziger Musikwerke Adolf Buff-Hedinger Playotist
1907 Neue Leipziger Musikwerke Adolf Buff-Hedinger Premier
1907 Stichel Claviola
1907 Hupfeld Phonola-Piano, DEA
1908 Neue Leipziger Musikwerke Adolf Buff-Hedinger Marcando-Premier, Primavolta
1908 Popper Stella
1908 Symphonion Symphoniola
1909 Popper Regent
1909 Symphonion Nuancierungsklavier
1909 Leipziger Orchestrionwerke Paul Lösche Kunstspiel-Piano
1910 Neue Leipziger Musikwerke Adolf Buff-Hedinger Melodant-Premier
1910 Popper Welt-Piano „X“ Nr. 4
1911 Neue Leipziger Musikwerke Adolf Buff-Hedinger Elektra
1911 Popper Estrella
1912 Polyphon Polyphona
1912 Förster, H. & co  
1913 Popper Superba
1919 Riedel, W.  
1919 Döhnert, Otto  
1920 Wöhle & co  
1920 Bachmann  
1920 Kästner  
1920 Hupfeld, Ludwig Triphonola
1923 Birnbaum & co.  
1926 Popper Electro-Flügel
1926 Leipziger Orchestrionwerke Paul Lösche Selecta
1926 Kästner Autopiano Nola de luxe
1927 Leipziger Orchestrionwerke Paul Lösche Artista, Astra, Jazzband-Pianos
1927 Riedel, W. Jazzband-Piano Preziosa
1927 Pyrophon Pyrophon
1927 Kästner Autopiano Triplex
1928 Döhnert, Otto Symphona
1928 Kästner Autopiano Reproduktions-Kästner-Autopiano
1929 Döhnert, Otto Symphona Jazz-Piano
1929 Kästner Autopiano Kästners Macar


1908 Neue Leipziger Musikwerke Adolf Buff-Hedinger  
1909 Symphonion Symphoniola
1920 Wöhle & co Pianobella, Elektrobella
1923 Schrickel, A.  
1923 Birnbaum & co  
1925 Zimmermann, Gebr.  
1926 Richter, C. Riconola
1926 Kästner Autopiano  
1926 Riedel, W.  
1927 Katz, Conrad  
1928 Döhnert, Otto  









9. Piano Orchestrions


Orchestrions were meant to replace small or medium-sized instrumental ensembles. This explains the use of the name orchestrion (also: orchestra player), as well as numerous remarks in advertisements and sales catalogues (including, for example: “replaced approximately 5 musicians”, “replaces a military band” and “recreates a complete jazz band”.
Shortly after 1900, Leipzig became an important center for the production of piano orchestrions. The instruments were based on automated pianos. Additionally, they featured integrated percussion instruments such as large and small drums, timpani, triangles, glockenspiels and xylophones. Wind and string instruments were reproduced with organ pipes. Additional timbres, such as mandolin, zither, banjo and harp effects were produced at the piano strings with the use of specific mutes, modified hammer strokes (“vibrating hammers”), or, for example, with vibrating and clinking metal plates.
The greatest musical achievements were pneumatic orchestrions with perforated paper rolls, which were introduced after 1900. They were relatively expensive and required complex maintenance. Mechanically operated orchestrions were cheaper and more robust, however, they did not compare in terms of musical expression. They were largely popular in remote areas without electricity and maintenance personnel, such as village dance halls.
Mechanically operated orchestrions with cylinders, perforated discs and paper rolls were manufactured in Leipzig.

Leipzig manufacturers of mechanically operated cylinder orchestrions and their models with start of production:

1893 Zimmermann, Gebr. Piano-Orchestrion (auch Dreh-Piano)
1901(ca.) Hupfeld, Ludwig Atlantic
1901 Dienst, E. Dienst’s Piano-Orchestrion, Ideal, International, Geisha
1903 Dienst, E. Konzert-Orchestrion Nr.1
1904 (ca.) Popper Adria, Carmen, Triumph, Titania, Austria, Roland
1905 (ca.) Popper Liliput
1906 (ca.) Popper Humor, Aida, Bravo
1906 Dienst, E. Traviata
1907 Original Musikwerke Paul Lochmann Original-Walzen-Orchestrion Nr. 1
1908 (ca.) Popper Italia
1909 Pyrophon Walzenorchestrion Nr. 1 und 2
1913 Original Musikwerke Paul Lochmann Romania, Hansa


Leipzig manufacturers of mechanically operated perforated disc orchestrions and their models with start of production:

1901 Hupfeld, Ludwig Orchestrophon
1901 Polyphon Polyphon-Concerto
1903 Symphonion Symphonion-Duplex-Orchester No 98
1903 Original Musikwerke Paul Lochmann Original-Konzert-Piano Nr. 350
1904 Symphonion Mandolinen-Orchester Nr. 70
1905 Original Musikwerke Paul Lochmann Original-Konzert-Pianos Nr. 200 und 250
1906 Original Musikwerke Paul Lochmann Original-Orchester-Pianos Nr. 400, 450, 500
1907 Symphonion Symphonion-Saitenorchester Nr. 76
1907 Original Musikwerke Paul Lochmann Original-Tanz-Automat Nr. 100







Leipzig manufacturers of mechanically operated music roll orchestrions and their models with start of production:

1900 Ruhl, Oscar Orchesterpiano
1904 Polyphon Rossini-Piano-Orchestrion
1906 Polyphon Polyphon-Orchester Nr. 1
1907 Polyphon Polyphon-Orchester Nr.2 und 10
1907 Symphonion Orchestrion 1 N

Leipzig manufacturers of pneumatic orchestrions and their models with start of production:

1901 Apollo Musikwerke Violinflöten-Piano-Orchestrion
1901 Hupfeld, Ludwig Piano-Orchestrion
1903 Leipziger Orchestrionwerke Paul Lösche  
1904 Dienst, E. Perla
1904 Symphonion Klavier-Orchester Nr. 80
1904 Popper Puck, Violetta, Tonica, Bianca
1905 Popper Con amore, Regina, Rex, Mimosa, Fidelio
1905 Hupfeld, Ludwig Mandolina, Helios
1906 Popper Protector, Simson, Vindobona, Iduna, Felix
1906 (ca.) Leipziger Orchestrionwerke Paul Lösche Xylophon- und Mandolinenpiano
1906 Hupfeld, Ludwig Universal
1907 Popper Gladiator, Wiener Schrammel, Circe
1907 (ca.) Hupfeld Modell B,E,F,O
1908 Neue Leipziger Musikwerke Adolf Buff-Hedinger Toccaphon
1908 (ca.) Hupfeld, Ludwig Pepita
1909 Popper Protos, Primus, Flauto solo, Clarabella
1909 Hupfeld, Ludwig Riesen-Orchestrion
1909 (ca.) Leipziger Orchestrionwerke Paul Lösche Lösche’s Violinen-Piano
1910 Popper Popper’s Geiger-Piano
1910 Neue Leipziger Musikwerke Adolf Buff-Hedinger Violin-Piano
1911 Popper Goliath
1912 Hupfeld, Ludwig Pan-Phonoliszt
1912 Popper Matador
1912 Neue Leipziger Musikwerke Adolf Buff-Hedinger Primavolta-Trio
1913 Popper Salon-Orchester
1920 (ca.) Popper Konzertmeister, Luna, Roland
1920 (ca.) Bachmann  
1923 (ca.) Popper Triumph
1926 Popper Ohio
1927 Hupfeld, Ludwig Hupfeld-Jazz-Sinfonie-Orchester, Atlantic
1927 Leipziger Orchestrionwerke Paul Lösche Jazz-Band-Piano
1928 Bachmann Jazzband-Piano


10. Flötenwerke and Organ Orchestrions

Flötenwerke and organ orchestrions were rarely produced in Leipzig. These instruments were based on mechanically or pneumatically operated organ pipes; perforated discs and paper rolls were used to store the musical information. Automated church organs were only manufactured by the POPPER Company.

Leipzig manufacturers of Flötenwerke and their product names with start of production:

1893 Fabrik Leipziger Musikwerke vormals PAUL EHRLICH Flötenwerk
1895 Fabrik Leipziger Musikwerke vormals PAUL EHRLICH Savoyardenknabe, Bauernmusik-Automaten 61a,b
1897 Fabrik Leipziger Musikwerke vormals PAUL EHRLICH Straßen-Drehorgel
1898 Fabrik Leipziger Musikwerke vormals PAUL EHRLICH Orient
1900 Fabrik Leipziger Musikwerke vormals PAUL EHRLICH Flötenbläser-Automat



Leipzig manufacturers of organ orchestrions and their product names (when available) with start of production: 

1895 Hupfeld, Ludwig Aeolion
1895 Fabrik Leipziger Musikwerke vormals PAUL EHRLICH Bauernmusik-Automat 61c
1899 Zollinger  
1901 Apollo Musikwerke  
1907 (ca.) Hupfeld, Ludwig Excelsior





Leipzig manufacturers of automated church organs and their product names with start of production:

1910 Popper Eroica