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


Gibson expert Benoît Meulle-Stef tells us that this marvelous photo (from historian Michael Wright) shows "the 1903 catalog U! Rope binding, scroll on the headstock with no "The Gibson" logo, 6X2 bass tuners, banjo tuners for the guitar strings... it's a real amazing instrument I wasn't even sure that they ever actually made the 'catalog model.' A wonderful, early photo of a post-1903 6-bass Style R. The Junction City Mandolin Club of Kansas
(image copyright Kansas State Historical Society)
And another rare 6-bass player
The Masqueria Sisters with early Gibson instruments including a Style R 6-bass harp guitar Another women's group with a nice R with moon & star headstock inlay
Unknown gentlemen with Gibson instruments Same group. The harp guitar is a rare version with 12 sub-bass strings The same harp guitar in the home
Walter Boehm, seen here with an early 12-bass Gibson, was the harp guitarist who developed the eventual 10-bass system for Gibson Another player with a 12 sub-bass instrument Another scroll bridge model with 12 sub-basses!

And the very rare intermediate 9-sub-bass version

This fancier 9-bass is currently missing some strings

Both 12- and 9-basses soon gave way to a standard 10 - still retaining the glued scroll bridge.  Note the tuners arrangements - still undecided on 2x5 or staggered.

The Giddings Family Concert Company. date unknown


The image at left and two (of 3) below are from "Mandolins, Like Salami" by Sheri Mignano Crawford, courtesy of the author. The 2005 book contains personal stories about these groups and their members. Available from www.zighibaci.com

The Ideal Mandolin Club, from The Cadenza, Sept, 1920
The famous Andrini Brothers of San Francisco in 1926, with Frank on an early Gibson harp guitar. Frank also owned a 1920 Gibson Style U, shown here on the radio show "Talk of the Town" (image courtesy of Aurelia Hartenberger, who owns the guitar)
In 1962, the San Francisco Italian mandolin orchestra scene is still going strong, this group under the direction of founder Fred Walker.
 full image here

copyright and courtesy Paul Ruppa

The Milwaukee Bonne Amie Musical Circle again: Boating with harp guitars!

copyright and courtesy John Pagenkop

This is a very early Gibson Orchestra - note that all the mandolins are 3-point models (and a rope-bound A-mando and 'cello). Nevertheless both versions of Gibson harp guitar are present.    
There are dozens of images of All-Gibson Orchestras and smaller groups with harp guitars out there. Send them in! Here are players with the typical floating tailpiece Style U harp guitars.
Sydney, Australia Cadenza, 1910
The next 3 images are from the 1910 Gibson catalog

These two 'teens Gibson group photos can be purchased from Superior View

An all-Gibson orchestra, circa 1918. Note the "snakehead" mandolin banjos and tenor banjo, which would have been brand new at the time. Note also the two styles of harp guitar, and that they are both played by women, which was not the norm for Gibson orchestras.  Richard McFarland, who submitted this photo, says: " My grandfather (standing, sixth from the conductor at right) was born and lived on a farm near Donnelsville, Ohio, a small farming community near Springfield. This picture of him greatly resembles his high school graduation photo, which was taken in 1918. By 1923 he was married and farming a farm of his own and I doubt he would have had the time to participate in such an ensemble. I think this orchestra was probably based in Springfield, given its size."

Electric harp guitarist Tim Donahue owns the harp guitar previously played by the gentleman in this classic photo

Franklin Delano Roosevelt tours the country and is treated to an ensemble with a Gibson player.  The group greets FDR at a train station in this PBS documentary video clip, ca. World War II. Gibson Factory workers with a harp guitar frame
There are some strange (homemade?) mandolins in this group Unknown vintage (1930s?)

In front of the Hanna City Hotel, in Hanna City, Illinois. "Castle Group" is inscribed on the back

This row features players of the common Style U
Stacy Hobbs received this photo of a local Virginia Hawaiian outfit of the 'twenties  from one of his former students, whose grandfather was in the picture  

Hector Hernandez is the Gibson player (Right two images courtesy of the Special Collections Department, University of Iowa Libraries)

Fabulous sheet music with a Gibson and a Knutsen - how marvelously obscure! Vardon & Perry again, sans Wilber. This one is written by the duo. Pull out your Gibsons and play it! Here's the music: Page 2, Page 3, Page 4, Page 5.
Both of these U.K. editions turned up far afield in Europe.

And here Vardon and Perry re-group as The Rag-Time Six, with a new player of that same Knutsen!  The Gibson harp guitar in all three images is a custom order later-model Style U with 6 sub-bass strings.

Multi-instrumentalist Perry Botkin (Sr.) on the cover of his early 1950s sheet music "Pick-a-Lili" written by Perry Botkin You too can learn how to play the Gibson harp guitar! 1911 ad Similar ad, 1913, Cosmopolitan 
1917, Popular Mechanics 1920s, Popular Mechanics Gibson's Sounding Board salesman's magazine from January, 1920
The Milwaukee Mandolin Orchestra in 1983: John Stropes on harp guitar and (still current) director Paul Ruppa on mandocello ..and The Los Angeles Mandolin Orchestra, 1985.
Who can identify the Gibson harp guitarist?

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