Prices of the Boehm instruments

The original prices of Boehm instruments are known from two sources: a) the 19 12 Catalogue and b) a price list from 1934 (see below) which displays some later price adjustments on a separate inserted sheet (these price adjustments cannot have been made after 1937 because the post district is still given as "Hamburg 5"). There is no direct evidence for the prices of the Boehm instruments in the 1920s, but the similarity between the figures of 1912 and 1934 suggests that they were similar (apart, of course, from the inflation year 1923). A supplementary indicator for a relatively stable price of the instruments is the fact that the average gross salary of a German employee did not change much between 1900 and 1945: It stayed around 100 German Mark, even when the currency changed from the Goldmark to the Rentenmark and finally to the Reichsmark. In 1912, Boehm offers a second sales option which includes a Waldzither course and costs an extra 10,- Mk (a course for his Walddoline is not offered).


1912 Catalogue


Price List

Nr. 0



Nr. 1/Nr. 1A



Nr. 1B



Nr. 1C



Nr. 2



Nr. 3



Nr. 4









Nr. 0



Nr. 1A



Nr. 1C



Nr. 2




1934 Price List

As the income and the wealth of the German population were both much lower than today, it is not easy to compare these prices with today's prices for stringed instruments. But if the average gross salary of a German employee is taken as a comparison (the purchasing power of the German Mark in relation to today's Euro is of lower significance), at least the dimension can be seen in which the prices of the Boehm instruments must have moved.

In the first half of the 20th Century, the average gross salary of a German employee was (apart from some short variations in times of inflation) about ca. 100,- Mark (Goldmark, Rentenmark or Reichsmark); today, it is about 3500,- Euro. It follows that a simple Boehm Waldzither Nr. 1 would have cost about a weekly pay of an average employee; this would correspond to a current instrument of the higher middle class. Boehm's top-of-the-line Model Nr. 4 would have cost a monthly pay, this would correspond to a current high class instrument. These fairly "proper" prices may explain why Boehm felt himself compelled, in times of financial trouble, to offer a cheaper basic model which he sold for 19,50 RM (Waldzither) resp. 18,- RM (Walddoline).

Compared with Waldzither prices in the catalogues of Vogtland producers from the 1920s and 1930s, the prices of the Boehm instruments are not strikingly different. Occasionally, a cheaper entry-level instrument can be found for under 20,- RM, but then it has also to be seen that the Wunderlich Company offered its top model for 200,- RM.

It seems to be impossible to draw any conclusions from these prices with regard to the current value of the Boehm instruments: Here, it is surely the relationship of supply and demand which regulates the market. Of course it is possible, in rare cases, to pick up a bargain, but as soon as there is more than a single potential buyer interested in a certain instrument, the price may also quickly go up. And the condition of the instrument is also not to be neglected: Because of their construction, age and past storage (which was often far from adequate), many Boehm Waldzithers display serious damages that are difficult to see on the photos of the sellers (who are also mainly no experts and often hardly know what they are selling). Non-experts will quickly pay too much for an instrument which needs a costly and time-consuming repair in order to make it playable again. Boehm Waldzithers that are bought in the internet and can be picked right out of the box and instantly played are very rare indeed !!!

It would be careless to give here detailed price recommendations, but who should happen to get an instrument that is immediately fully playable for less than 150,- EUR can consider himself lucky; the prices of the higher models will be comparatively higher. But it can also not be recommended to pay 300,- EUR (or more) for a simple Boehm instrument which isn't even playable (which is quite commonly asked). Even a new set of stings costs 25,- EUR, and, apart from the price, it is not easy to get a new tuning mechanism or a new tailpiece or a suitable glass bridge.

In general, it can only be recommended not to purchase the first Waldzither someone gets offered, but to wait and watch the market for a considerable time - or else to seek the advice of an expert who is able to take the instrument in question in his hands and to examine it in detail.