Schmidt Ukelin

Schmidt Ukelin

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Description (Brief)

This ukelin was made by Made by Oscar Schmidt International, Inc. in Jersey City, New Jersey, in 1946. The ukelin, serial #4645, has a rectangular oblong body, table 3/16" Philippine mahogany with ornamented sound holes, back 3/16" Philippine mahogany plywood, oak tuning pin block, ribs and back are painted black.

This ukelin features U.S. Patent #1579780 dated April 6, 1926, by Paul F. Richter, assignor to the Phonoharp Company, for a stringed musical instrument.

The patent describes a bow guide to allow a player smooth transition in bowing a sequence of strings. The idea is applied to the ukelin, an instrument with sixteen bowed strings and sixteen plucked strings, which are numbered for ease of playing without complicated lessons. Similar instruments were marketed under the trade names: Sol-o-lin, Violin Uke, and Hawaiian Art Violin. A melody is played with a bow, and accompanying chords are played on the bass strings using either the fingers or a plectrum.

In a letter to Mugwumps Magazine in 1974, Glen Peterson, President of Oscar Schmidt, wrote: “Ukelin production was stopped by me in 1964... The facts are that we were making about 100 Ukelins a week, the salesmen kept on sending in orders, but I would receive letters that started out, ‘The other day some salesman came by while I was out in the pasture and sold my wife a junk musical instrument which I am returning to you.’ So I just stopped shipping Ukelins to salesmen. Because there was no true demand for Ukelins in legitimate music stores, I terminated all production of the Ukelin as well. That’s the true story and the whole story.”

Currently not on view
Object Name
place made
United States: New Jersey, Jersey City
Physical Description
mahogany (overall material)
oak (overall material)
metal (overall material)
overall: 2 in x 27 1/2 in x 7 3/4 in; 5.08 cm x 69.85 cm x 19.685 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
patent number
Credit Line
Gift of Elonzo L. Barker
See more items in
Cultural and Community Life: Musical Instruments
Music & Musical Instruments
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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