1937–38 New York Theremin

1937–38 New York Theremin

Who Commissioned This Instrument?


Who Owned This Instrument?

Unknown. The original owner, or an early owner left this theremin in a basement of a home in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn. Few clues to its further history remain at this time.

What Do We Know About This Instrument?

Metal chassis, mounted horizontally, resonance coils mounted directly to top of chassis. Separate power supply/amplifier chassis in lower part of cabinet.

The oscillator and resonance coils employ the standard green silk-insulated windings common to all other Lev-built theremins. Bathtub style capacitors are used in portions of the construction, as seen in other Lev-built theremins, although this instrument utilizes fixed-value oscillator capacitors in lieu of Lev's usual capacitor stacks, and has a number of other notable differences.

Control panel layout and cabinet are nearly identical to the post-US Theremin era Nickert theremin sold by Teletouch.

Why is it Special?

This instrument represents the earliest known use of voltage regulation and a rotary tone-color selector in a surviving Lev-built theremin. Tone color switches were a feature of Lev's own personal demonstration instruments in the 1927–28 era, but are not generally seen on theremins built for others, until appearing on this unit.

This is the only currently known survivor that employs both an inductively-heated volume control tube, (typical of Theremin's earlier designs—in this case, UX-120), and the type 53 dual triode tube (employed in Lev's later custom instruments for Clara Rockmore and Lucie Rosen). Lev's hand-written numbers appear on the chassis top.

Tube Complement: