The Oscar Schmidt Company

The Oscar Schmidt Company was founded in 1879 by Oscar Schmidt and incorporated in 1911.  Schmidt was born in Germany and emigrated to the United States, where he  initially formed a music publishing business first. To offer instruments to his students, he began to manufacture musical instruments.


The Company grew quickly during the 1900's and  not only in the United States. Around 1920 Schmidt had four  factories in Germany, as well as three in the United States. They made all kinds of stringed instruments, guitars, banjos, mandolins, ukuleles, zithers, and Autoharps®.

Best known is the Schmidt factory on Ferry Street in Jersey City, which was the company’s headquarters, too. By 1928 they were described as "the world's largest manufacturer of fretted musical instruments".


The brand names Stella and Sovereign were registered in 1909, but they started producing Stella instruments for at least ten years earlier. Stella instruments were not at all cheap, beginners instruments.

Oscar Schmidt Stella guitars covered a wide range in price and build quality. Many were modest all birch models, others were higher quality guitars with spruce tops and some were high quality,top of the line instruments, made from selected spruce, mahagoni, rosewood or koa wood.


The Company had their boom years between 1910 and 1929.

Oscar Schmidt died in 1929, a month before the stock market crash.While the european factories  were closed, because of inflation, the company survived in America. In the 1930s the company went through some reorganisations. There are not many details  from this period. But there is one fact. The Stella and Sovereign brand was sold to the Harmony Company in Chicago. Stella and Sovereign branded guitars began to appaer in Harmony's catalog in 1939.






Schmidt Factory in Jersey City
Schmidt Factory in Jersey City