|Knowing the fair market value of Sohmer pianos is useful to sellers, buyers and owners.
This information can help guide you in making important decisions.
Hugo Sohmer arrived in New York City from Germany in 1863 and began learning the art of piano
building by apprenticing in New York and travelling throughout Europe. In 1872 Sohmer partnered with
Joseph Kuder (a Viennese piano maker now working in New York), establishing Sohmer & Co. after
they bought the Marshall & Mittauer piano factory. They began manufacturing and selling pianos at the
Marshall & Mittauer address on East 14th St., but soon expanded several times over the next few
decades with larger factories and warerooms in New York and Long Island. Sohmer became known as
one the finest American piano builders in the late 1800s and early 1900s, and one of the largest at the
time, manufacturing square, upright, grand and player pianos of the highest quality and craftsmanship.
After Hugo passed away in 1913 (as did Joseph Kuder), his son, Harry J. Sohmer controlled the
company until his death in 1971, at which time Harry J.’s sons, Harry J. Sohmer Jr. and Robert H.
Sohmer, carried on running the firm. They then sold the company to to Pratt, Read & Co. in 1982, as
there were no family members willing to continue the business. From 1982 to about the the early
1990s, the company was bought and sold several more times, with production moving to Connecticut
and finally Pennsylvania, with ownership in the hands of Mason & Hamlin. In 1994 Mason & Hamlin
declared bankruptcy, and production of Sohmer pianos ceased with the closing of the factory. In 1996,
Kirk and Gary Burgett, owners of Music Systems Research (makers of the PianoDisc digital player
piano systems) bought the assets of Mason & Hamlin, and with it, the Sohmer name. However, in 2001,
the Sohmer trademark expired and for years Sohmer branded pianos were being manufactured and
sold by Persis International under the “Sohmer” label beginning in 2001, and by Korean firm Samick
Music Corporation as “Sohmer & Co.“, under an alleged licence from the Burgetts in 2003.
Finally, in 2009 Persis International proved its ownership of the Sohmer trademark name, and
Samick stopped production by 2010. Persis International halted distribution of Sohmer pianos by 2017.
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