V
intage Harp Guitar Photographs, 
Postcards, Cabinet Cards, Advertising & Ephemera

Identified American Brands


Dahlman patented this form of harp guitar. Most models seen are labeled Charles Akeson. Wurlitzer catalog, date unknown
Lyon & Healy catalog, c.1917 This is most likely an L&H American Conservatory harp guitar, but a few other makers made this same form.

This song was "Featured by The Great Lakes Sextette," Chicago, 1918.

It features a similar guitar to the previous. And again the same model This is clearly the same design, but the instrument is extremely fancy - almost in a customized way.
The Hearons Sisters, c1900s.  Their harp guitar appears to be Lyon & Healy's early American Conservatory guitar with the metal headstock joining bracket.
(image courtesy of the Special Collections Department, University of Iowa Libraries)
The same instrument is more readily identifiable in this group photo, taken in Ohio on April 9, 1907.  The harp guitarist's grandson, David Felts (who kindly supplied the photo) inherited the guitar, now undergoing restoration.
Bruno & Sons catalog, 1912-1913

This is a Bruno & Sons "12-string" harp guitar (meaning 6 double courses on the neck).  In reality, with 4 sub-bass strings, it is a "16-string harp guitar" or more accurately, a 10-course harp guitar.

This instrument clearly matches the Bruno catalog instrument.  This is Lyceum performer Mrs. Potter, c.1920s.
(image courtesy of the Special Collections Department, University of Iowa Libraries)

Another Bruno & Sons "12-string" harp guitar

Oscar Schmidt catalog, c.1921 The Ellis Royal Hawaiians, c 1920's, with a Stella harp guitar player
(image courtesy of the Special Collections Department, University of Iowa Libraries)

A charming image of an original Stella owner.

Another Stella, but not a harp guitar. Penewell may have asked for one to be built as a fully-fretted double-neck. The stringing of each neck also looks similar. In a Paramount brochure, the instrument is listed as his "Twin-Six Guitar (Hawaiian Harp-Guitar)" - perhaps a clue to an open tuning on one neck? (there doesn't appear to be a high nut on either).
According to the EBay seller of this photograph,
"Penewell was a well known recording artist who recorded for Marsh Recording Laboratories and made several titles in Grafton for the Broadway label in 1931."  Back is stamped "Jack Penewell and his Twin-Six Guitar".

From The Cadenza, Dec. 1910. The distinctive (ultra-thin body, oversize soundhole) H.F. Meyers instruments are believed to have been made by the Larson brothers. Hidden in this picture is what I believe is a fancy model May Flower harp guitar - another Chicago brand of which some are believed to be Larson-built.  From an undated (c.1900) Rudolph Wurlitzer Co. brochure on Brandt mandolins. 
courtesy of Rich Myers
Closeup detail
Below the Washburn lyre guitar (not an HG) is an instrument very reminiscent of the May Flower instrument.
What a find! William Hallman & the Florentines, from 1918. I first thought that this must be a "cutaway" form of the previous H.F.Meyers harp guitars. Same ultra-thin body, oversize soundhole, similar bass headstock, and the right time period. Then I looked close and saw the labels. This is a trio of Leland "Brilliantone MANDO" instruments distributed by the Washburn Company! (I've a Leland piccolo mando - all the different sizes use the same generic label). This is the first harp guitar known - and another similarity with the Meyers is that some Lelands are thought to have been made by the Larson brothers. Could this have been also? Great history here!
(images courtesy of the Special Collections Department, University of Iowa Libraries)
This form of Regal harp guitar is a brand name of Emil Wulschner & Son of Indianapolis - or specifically, from one or more of the evolving/branching Wulschner/Regal companies - somewhere in the period between 1899 and 1904.
This ad is from Wulschner & Sons, and is dated 1900 by Michael Holmes.
This ad for "Regal Guitars and Mandolins", from the Wulschner Music Company appeared in the September, 1900 issue of "Munsey's Magazine."  The photo is of the Deseret Mandolin Club, Salt Lake City, Utah.  In the same year (1900), this piece of music by C.E. Pomeroy (center) was published by F.O. Gutman. This image provides much better detail, not only of the Regal harp guitar, but of the alleged Regal mandolins - which resemble the S.O. Allison mandolinettos (shown on my Mandolinetto page).
Here's a great c.1900s postcard (unfortunately heavily hand-tinted and inked) that shows the above Regal harp guitar, along with a half-size guitar, and a huge guitar!  The latter seems to have 8 tuners.  Could it be a double-course mandobass?! The Apollo Concert Company, which played the Lyceum and Chautauqua circuits in the 1910's included a fellow named Clay Smith on trombone, saxophone and Regal harp guitar.
(images courtesy of the Special Collections Department, University of Iowa Libraries)

Two different ensembles with the unusual model.

This and the following two pictures are from an 1897 Washburn catalog. The implication is that these are 3 Washburn harp guitars, but what strange models! All are completely unique, have never (to my knowledge) been seen offered in any catalog, or have additional specimens known.
2/06 Addendum. The specimen on the left above looks exactly like this newly discovered Bay State specimen.

2007: A wonderful and previously unknown instrument in this group - a Washburn harp lyre guitar!

The Washburn Lyre guitar in a harp guitar version in The Los Angeles Harwood Mandolin and Guitar ensemble, The Cadenza, 1896

La Harmonia Orchestra
The same Washburn lyre harp guitar.
The Aeolian Mandolin Orchestra,  Guthrie OK, 1898
This is undoubtedly a Harwood specimen.
From the January, 1895 Cadenza, this remarkable image shows an entire Harwood ensemble, and shows us that not only the large 12-bass model was introduced before 1895, but that they had also created a "slab-neck sub-bass"-style harp guitar before the Regals shown above. This unlabelled photo shows another group with the same 6-bass "slab-neck" Harwood
(See also Harwood Harp Guitars).
I believe this harp guitar likely to be a Harwood
Paul G. Hardie and Harmony harp guitar. Rumors have the number of these at only 3. This is a different specimen than the one in the Form 3a Gallery. From The Cadenza, March, 1907. This ad mentions the inventor and patentee of this interesting Form 4 harp guitar, Arling Schaeffer. It mentions "only two" of them made by Washburn. 
At left is a page from a post-1912 Shutt catalog showing their "Shutt" Mando-Bass-Harp-Guitar, Style "O, No. 3." Collector Jim Reynolds, who provided the image, tells us that Albert Shutt's grandson stated that "to his knowledge, only one was ever made," and had a photo of Albert playing it in a Topeka, Kansas band, though he has no idea what happened to the instrument. The instrument in the next photo, from the Cadenza (year unknown) is a different, alternately strung instrument. The pictured Shutt mandolins are pre-Gibson f-hole instruments, rather interesting models, and are extremely rare. 
The following 4 images are all from a rare Bohmann catalog from 1899.  Some of the harp guitars in the second row are believed to be Bohmann's. 

See Bohmann Special Feature

(courtesy Rich Myers)

Joseph Bohmann, with his new 1896 harp guitar. Chicago virtuoso Emilio Calamara, with Bohmann's first "contra bass harp guitar."
Steinway Mandolin Orchestra Chicago Mandolin Orchestra and Bohmann's Quartett, c.1899.
The Florentine Troubadours, Portland OR, 1898
This is almost certainly another one-of-a-kind Bohmann harp guitar.

Frank Lucanes (on right) was the older, accordion-playing brother of the famed guitarist Nick Lucas.  Around 1915, Frank joined a vaudeville act called The Three Vagrants.  At left is the group's guitarist, John Bergamasco, who played a "Majestic" brand harp guitar built by another Italian, Gaetano Puntolillo.  The trio recorded several 78s (with harp guitar) - five of which can be heard here.
(copyright NickLucas.com)

The Three Vagrants in costume In 1928 with A. C. Mignella on clarinet and (Josephine Bergamasco on accordion
(copyright and courtesy Richard Harris)

These remarkable photos depict a home-made harp guitar obviously inspired by a Knutsen.  The gentleman at left is Edwin Horace Eaton,  born in Brecksville, Illinois in 1859.  The picture is thought to be from 1910-1915, and taken in Michigan.  At right is Edwin's son, Arleigh (born 1891) with the same instrument about 1915.  The family photos come from Edwin's granddaughter  Shirley Eaton Louis, who says that her father Ray (Arleigh's older brother) was a woodworker and instrument builders, creating various stringed instruments for the family's use.  It is likely that Ray built the harp guitar, though Edwin may have been a carpenter as well.  Ray was in Munising, Michigan in 1910 and in Los Angeles in 1920.  As the instrument was apparently built before 1915, and the family had not relocated to Washington (by 1925), it's hard to say where Ray might have seen a Knutsen (likely Michigan).  Ray, Arleigh and another brother, Edwin H. Eaton Jr., played Ray's instruments on the radio in 1940.  Shirley has been in contact with harp guitarist William Eaton (see below), as there is the possibility of a distant family connection!

Photos courtesy and copyright Shirley Eaton Louis.

And now, a segue to 1982....

William Eaton's 1982 Frets ad and 8-page folded brochure may be the first we see of the current generation of harp guitarists.
The ad lists the brochure at $1 - I paid just a bit more on eBay 24 years later!  Inside of brochure showing 4 more instruments.

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