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Seydel Söhne Harmonica, 1847

In the front of my car I keep a steel harmonica in order to whittle away the minutes on the rare occasions when I find myself idling through rush-hour traffic. I am by no means a skilled player – what goes on in the car, stays in the car – but I am grateful to the Seydel Söhne harmonica factory of Klingenthal in Germany for sending me such a useful instrument.

The company was founded in 1847, making it the oldest surviving harmonica manufacturer in the world, and it seems fitting that I should have one of their models in my car.

When my handmade harmonica arrived in the post, it was accompanied by a ‘simple song example’ to enable me to practise drawing, blowing and puckering on the holes. I was thrilled to note that the song they chose was Stephen Foster’s ‘Oh! Susanna’, a veritable 1847 classic if ever there was one.

I assumed the 1847 match-up was deliberate, until Lars Seifert, managing director at Seydel Söhne, expressed such pleasant surprise when I mentioned this to him.

To my mind, this was a typical moment of 1847 serendipity.