Gustav Schönstein

Villingen, Baden, Germany

Hupfeld, Lösche, Philipps, Popper, Pierre Eich, and possibly others, bought most, if not all, of their superbly crafted pipework from Gustav Schönstein, in Villingen, Baden, Germany. This author believes that this German company has been out of business for a long time.

Gustav's son, Felix F. Schönstein, immigrated to America in 1868, and founded an American branch of the company in San Francisco in 1877; see Schoenstein & Company for more details.  The American company made barrel orchestrions similar to those manufactured by Welte, including some fairly large ones. The current owner of Schoenstein & Co., Organ Builders, is Jack Bethards, who is interested in the company's orchestrion-building history. The company, as of this writing in January of 2012, still has some parts, including a large barrel for one of their orchestrions. Mr. Bethards owns an extensive library of dance band scores from the late 1890s through the 1950s, and often puts on concerts with a dance band and theatre organ.

Gustav Schonstein 1920 advertisement.As of this writing, information on Gustav Schönstein and his company is scant, and so any information regarding this able man and his work is welcome. An advertisement for Schönstein displayed in the December 1920 issue of Zeitschrift für Instrumentenbau is shown at right. Roughly translated, from top to bottom, it reads:

* D.R.G.M. signifies "Deutsche Reich Gebraumeister" and is a design or use patent somewhat similar to a "Registered" mark that provides an initial three years protection extendable for another three years to six maximum. These were first issued starting in 1891 and were discontinued after WW II. 

** D.R.P. signifies "Deutsche Reich Patent," an original and full patent with up to 15 years protection. These were first issued starting June 1877 and continue today.


Art Reblitz


Terry Hathaway