Stroh Violin

Description (Brief)
This instrument was patented (English Patent #9418) by John M.A. Stroh in London England on May 4, 1899 and manufactured by George Evans & Co. from 1904–1942. John Matthias Augustus Stroh was born in Frankfurt am Main in 1828, and was an apprentice watch and clock maker, who immigrated to England in 1851. In this instrument, the Stroh patent for amplifying a vibrated string is adapted to the violin. Stroh invented many acoustical devices, and the concept of this patent originated from work on the mechanical sound-box of the gramophone. This violin is made of a solid cylindrical body built of two pieces of half-round mahogany, an aluminum shoulder rest, diaphragm and horn, traditional violin neck, pegbox, and scroll of maple, and a dark red-brown varnish.
Description
To overcome the lack of sound–carrying power in string instruments, John M. A. Stroh introduced new “violins” like this one in England in the early 1900s. Stroh replaced the violin's usual wooden body with a metal resonator to produce a louder, more penetrating sound. The aluminum horn at the end of the fingerboard directed this sound either into the recording horn or into the ear of a singer. The performer placed the smaller aluminum horn at his or her ear in order to hear what was being played more distinctly. In 1986, Washington, D.C. resident Jeffery R. D. Crockett donated this Stroh violin to the Smithsonian. “My mother purchased this Stroh violin,” he wrote in his October 2, 1986, letter of donation, “in the 1930s in the town of Gravesend, Kent County, England. She used it when playing in a small local orchestra.” Mr. Crockett continued, “I give this violin to the Smithsonian Institution,” then adds—apparently unwittingly— “with no strings attached.”
Location
Currently not on view
Object Name
violin
Date made
1904-1942
maker
George Evans & Co.
patentee
Stroh, John M. A.
Physical Description
wood (overall material)
aluminum (overall material)
place made
United Kingdom: England, London
ID Number
1986.0858.01
catalog number
1986.0858.01
accession number
1986.0858
subject
Music & Musical Instruments
See more items in
Culture and the Arts: Musical Instruments
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Additional Media

Visitor Comments

4/5/2015 10:58:50 AM
ben gabel
The description is not strictly accurate. The stroh violins were used to overcome the limitations of early recording devices (wax cylinder) by concentrating the sound in one direction only. Once electric recoding came, they were suddenly obsolete.
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