As the family treee shows, the origins of the old-established company “Werner Chr. Schmidt” can be traced back to the year 1842 and to Johann Schmidt, a red copper founder from Höchstädt.
Unfortunately, not even Germany’s oldest church records in Bamberg go back any further, and so it is impossible to establish with any certainty who was the first mouthpiece maker in the Schmidt family and where the first mouthpieces were produced. We may assume without any doubt, however, that earlier generations of the family had already been producing mouthpieces for the instrument-making trade as independent brass ornament makers and brass or red copper founders before 1793.
The first documentary evidence of mouthpiece making by Schmidt in Höchstadt is contained in the deliveries book of a company named Merz. Here it is written that “Schmidt of Höchstadt” supplied 2 1/2 dozen trumpet mouthpieces and 2 dozen bugle mouthpieces on 29 April 1837. The company also delivered mouthpieces to many other regions where instrument making was established.
The work of Christoph Schmidt and his father is precisely recorded in their workshop’s order book covering the years 1860 – 1873. In addition to orders for instrument makers and dealers in Markneukirchen, Graslitz and Schönbach, there is mention of the companies Cerveny in Königsgrätz, Stowasser in Vienna, Arnthon in New York and Glier in Warsaw. Prior to the outbreak of the First World War, a very large number of mouthpieces also went to the company of Julius Heinrich Zimmermann in St. Petersburg, Russia.
The number of orders from Markneukirchen and the surrounding area continued to increase to such an extent, however, that the original practice of delivering the goods on a carrying frame (strapped to the carrier’s back) was no longer worthwhile in view of the day's journey on foot involved. Christoph Schmidt and his entire family therefore moved to Markneukirchen on 8 August 1894.
red copper founder (mouthpiece maker) in Höchstädt and Markneukirchen,
born in Höchstädt on 4 September 1845, died in Markneukirchen on 3 January 1912
Johann Schmidt (1819 – 1868), red copper founder in Höchstädt
Johann (1873 – 1938), mouthpiece maker
Friedrich (1876 – 1944), mouthpiece maker
Max (1880 – 1961), mouthpiece maker
Albrecht (1883 – 1944), mouthpiece maker
Adresses in Markneukirchen:
1897: No. 234 Schützenstraße
1905: No. 679 Wernitzgrüner Straße
1906: No. 677 Wernitzgrüner Straße
1909: No. 609 Zimmerloh (new: No. 4)
as of 1997: No. 10 Mosenstraße
In 1897 Christoph Schmidt exhibited at the trade fair for “mouthpieces made solely of metal and of metal and ivory“. He must have been working with galvanising by this time because he is listed among the exhibitors as a "mouthpiece maker and galvaniser of metal wind instruments“.
His eldest sons Friedrich and Johann set up their own business (F. J. Schmidt or Gebr. Schmidt) at No. 19 Plaunische Strasse in 1898. While Johann Schmidt carried on the business under the name of “Gebrüder Schmidt“ at No. 3 Adorfer Strasse, Friedrich Schmidt set up his own business at No. 10 Wiesenstrasse, describing it as a “Manufacture of Metal Wind Instruments, Mouthpieces and Components”.
The company Christoph Schmidt was initially carried on by his younger sons Max and Albrecht Schmidt. They had purchased the house at No. 4 Zimmerloh after the First World War, but worked separately in the same workshop there.
From 1938 Albrecht Schmidt worked in his own workshop at No. 8 Krumme Strasse. By 1966 his sons Gerhard and Horst had completely converted their workshops to galvanising, however.
The business of Max Schmidt’s “Mouthpiece Turning and Nickel-Plating Works“ was continued by his son, the mouthpiece specialist Werner Christoph Schmidt. Today, this, the last artisanal mouthpiece maker im Vogtland, is run by Bernhard Werner Schmidt at No. 10 Mosenstraße.
Since moving to larger production facilities in 1997 the company has been producing and repairing Perinet and cylinder valve metal wind instruments in addition to making mouthpieces. A new polishing shop was set up, and in 2007 a modern environment-friendly bale-out crucible furnace was installed for casting mouthpiece blanks.
The article in three languages, which was designed during the GDR era, was not easy to publish. It was difficult to send the texts and pictures across the border to the Swiss editors and it was only possible through friends and relatives in West Germany.
It was a scandal in the GDR when all issues of the "Brass Bulletin" were regularly delivered to the company's address, as this was a West magazine in German. But only the West German magazines were forbidden. However, "Das Brass Bulletin" came from Switzerland and therefore had to be delivered.