A. Schoenhut Piano Co. Schoenhut Website

Scheonhut sopranino liberty bell bracketless Banjolele Banjo Ukulele Corner
My 1930 Liberty Bell Sopranino
Scheonhut Butterfly soprano Ukulele Corner
My 2013 Schoenhut Butterfly
In 1872 German immigrant Albert Schoenhut founded a toy company in Philadelphia Pa. USA. It made a lot of different toys but became famous for its toy pianos; it was also the first US company to export toys back to Germany. As time went on the Company added more musical instruments to the catalogue and by 1926 it included certainly Banjoleles. By 1927 there was Soprano Ukuleles, Banjoleles being sold as proper, if low end, musical instruments at $1 a piece and toy Sopranino scale Ukuleles and Banjoleles too. These instruments were still in the 1933 catalogue and may well have continued until the company went bankrupt in 1935. At the moment I do not know if Schoenhut actually manufactured the instruments or just branded them? The Banjoleles are similar to the ones made by Globe, though with the German connections they could also be German imports? They also featured, (in the 1927 advert), a roundbody Sopranino that looks like the ones credited to Taylor? Alternatively there was certainly the ability within the company to make their own instruments, and no one else seemed to make or sell the smaller scale models, (I am also not exactly sure who Taylor was in regard to the Roundbody manufacture though it would be odd for Schoenhut to make this and have others distribute it?)

Whoever made them, all of Schoenhut's instruments of the time were branded with a Liberty Bell and so are sometimes referred to today as Liberty Banjos although Schoenhut never called them this and there was a another brand at the time that was officially the Liberty Musical Instrument Co

Though the original Schoenhut Co. closed down in 1935, both of Albert's sons started their own new Schoenhut companies in 1936 and without going into the full history there is still a Schoenhut Piano Co. in business today. Its not owned by any of the Schoenhut family anymore but it does claim to be the same firm and does still sell toy pianos. It is also selling Ukuleles again too. These I know are manufactured elsewhere as there is a re-branded Zither Heaven instrument and an MFC Flea copy made under licence in China

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