• January 30, 2004

Hidden Within These Walls

Does finding a harmonica in the wall mean good luck?

Restoration Diary,


Yesterday, while cleaning out 92 years worth of dirt and grime from inside the wall I saw an odd shaped piece of wood. I reached my hand into the wall all the way up to my elbow and fished out the curious piece. I gave it a good shake and dusted of a large amount of lint. It wasn’t a piece of wood. I dusted it off some more and saw it was a harmonica.

For many, many years this harmonica has lived underneath the pocket door, becoming slightly warped as the door opened and closed. The harmonica was made in Germany by the M. Hohner company. The year is barely legible but if you hold the harmonica at a certain angle and the light shines on it just right, a faint impression of the year becomes visible, 1897.


Further research revealed that the harmonica was invented in 1821 and first mass produced in Austria in 1829. In 1857 clock-maker Matthias Hohner began making harmonicas in his kitchen and with the help of his family and one or two workmen, he produced 700 instruments. After ten years, his company was manufacturing 22,000 instruments per year. By 1887, M. Hohner Inc. produced 1 million harmonicas per year. After ten more years, Hohner was producing 3 million harmonicas per year. In 1911 the company produced 8 million harmonicas per year and by 1925, Hohner’s annual sales peaked at 25 million instruments. Although sales have decreased since then, Hohner produced its one billionth harmonica in 1986.

After giving it another thorough cleaning, I couldn’t resist and gingerly put the harmonica to my mouth. I carefully exhaled into it. It still played! Getting more confident I blew into it full force and was greated with a loud resounding note.

Comments { 2 }
  1. Chris

    Your funny heather. Are you going to learn to play the harmonica?

  2. heather

    I was thinking that I need a hobby…

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