A Brief History of the Stumpf Fiddle

Best as I can make out, the stumpf fiddle was born of the rhythm sticks that may have come over to America from Central Europe. I found little information about the whys and wherefores, but can imagine it made its way here in the early 1900s with the waves of immigrants.

Wikipedia makes mention of the stumpf fiddle on its Pogocello page, ascribing it as the basis for Mack Perry's invention in the 1950s, so I know it's been around for at least 50 years.

Legend (or maybe fact) has it that the modern stumpf fiddle was conceived by Charlie and Bob Cronin, along with a gentleman named Bill Schwartz. These guys met at a Packers game with rhythm sticks in tow, and combined their efforts to market the things by way of The Fiddle Factory (couldn't find a web site, but it may still be in business in Sheboygan, WI).

The Legend of Harry Stumpf

According to The Conertina and Stumf Fiddle Appreciation Page, the Cronin brothers nicknamed their axe after Harry Stumpf, who may be a handicapped (pegleg) myth. Real or not, his picture's on our fiddle.

Futhermore, Harry seems to get around...

Back in October of '11 I received an email from a woman named Gail, who sent me a photo of Harry that's been in her husband Bruce's family for over 70 years! He got the photo from his grandfather. According to Bruce, there were only 50 printed. Gail says there's more backstory here, but I Bruce hasn't filled me in yet.

Then, the following February a gentleman named Mike sent me a copy of a painting…

I was watching a episode of Auction Kings and saw a Stumpf Fiddle being auctioned off and saw the emblem of Harry Stumpf and I said he looks a lot like the Mike Dooley painting I have.

My father was stationed in Japan right after WWII and purchased this painting that looks remarkable like Harry except Mike has a mess of Campaign Ribbons and says he's retired Air Force Officer. Thought you might want to see this, I wonder about the story on this.

Mike Dooley?

But wait! There's more!

Just after that I received an email from a guy named Tom, who saw the photo of Harry (or Mike) that I posted. He said that same photo has been hanging over the bar at BJ's in Fredonia, NY for years. The bar owner used to say (pointing to the photo), "that was our first customer enjoying one of our finest."

So, that's where this story ends… for now. If you have anything to add — real or imaginary — let me know!