Aktualisiert: 7. Juni 2021
Over 90 years ago now. Sure, no Internet, no e-mails and yet somehow the customers had to get wind of what the company had in its product range. Today, this is done via online shops - back then, a new catalogue was created every few years - if at all. That was time-consuming and really expensive. First of all the printing and finally the shipping to all countries. Already at that time, the catalogue of G.A. Pfretzschner was bilingual - German and English - but especially with customers from the USA one made very good business.
The most important product was of course the "Geigen" (although this term does not appear once in the catalogue) - it was the violins, violas and cellos that were offered here. As the old business books show, they were usually sold by the dozen. Here you can see the assortment of violins that were on sale at that time - almost every known name, especially those of the Italian masters, was included. From Stradivarius (of course) to Guarnerius, Amati, Gegliano, Ruggeri, Maggini, Klotz, Caspar da Salo - you name it, we had it!
And of course in different versions. In the colouring from yellow-brown shaded over red-brown slightly shaded, golden-brown, red-yellow ... then old imitated, slightly imitated, head finely engraved, whole bottom, shiny polished, nicely flamed, and and and. Of course, these were not "real" Stradivaris or Amatis, but violins from Markneukirchen and the surrounding area, which were made according to these models by hundreds or even thousands of workshops and home workers. The labels were also "imitated", sometimes close to the original and sometimes very creatively different and often with the addition "copy" or "replica". So let's be honest, whoever bought one of these instruments for comparatively little money could not - even then - assume that they were "real" instruments of the Italian masters. It was just mass production, yes, that's right - where the demand, there the supply. And the demand was huge, because if you wanted to listen to music, you had to make music. No record player, no walkman, no MP3 player, no streaming - like today. After all, there was only classical music and folk music, and for both you needed many real musical instruments. In addition to violins, the company also offered accessories such as tailpieces, pegs, fingerboards, bridges, chinrests, mutes, rosin and of course strings and much more. All in different designs and qualities. To give you an idea, here are some impressions, maybe you recognize the originals on the catalogue pictures.
It is really amazing how much effort they put into the mother-of-pearl inlays back then. Soundwise it is hell when such a platelet is half loose and purrs away all the time. Even the chinrests had a bizarre shape and only very few musicians still use shoulder cushions today. Of course, bows were also in the assortment. From simple brazilwood bows without frills to the best pernambuco wood bows with ivory frog and you didn't see a thing. And also here the strategy is repeated - only the best names like Vuillaume, Tubbs, Dodd, Tourte, Nürnberger and of course Pfretzschner (G.A.) if you know what is meant. One is preserved in the original, you can recognize it?
Gustav Adolf Pfretzschner really was an intelligent businessman. He did not only deal in musical instruments, but he also had the tools and tonewoods in his assortment that were necessary to build violins, violas and bows. So he practically supplied the manufacturers of the instruments on the one hand, then bought the finished instruments and then earned again from their sale. Today one would say - a perfect value chain.
You had to put the instruments somewhere if you wanted to transport them. And as if we had guessed, there are also sheaths in the range. Nowadays you would call them cases or suitcases. The simplest version was the black varnished wooden case known from the mafia movies. But the good ones, with leather cover and finest silk plush interior and gold plated fittings, were real beauties in themselves. I don't want to know what such a case weighed.
And of course the company G.A. Pfretzschner also traded cellos and double basses and the corresponding accessories. The spikes are interesting and are probably not used in this form anymore.
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