Knutsen Historical Photographs 

by Gregg Miner, as part of The Knutsen Archives

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Chris Knutsen & family

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This is my favorite section of the site.

These images below provide a fascinating glimpse into the lives and times of Knutsen and the musicians who purchased his instruments.

They are also invaluable tools to help identify and catalog additional instruments built by Knutsen, perhaps offering further clues to dating in the future.

For this reason, I’ve included the instruments from these pictures in the inventory list and galleries. Who knows - maybe some of them will turn up one day!


   Chris Knutsen & family 

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This famous photograph of the Knutsen family is reliably dated to Port Townsend (probably in early 1900). Chris would be 37, Anna, 43, Bertha (with violin), 11, and Evalda (with a strange Knutsen mandolin), age 10.

(Photograph from the Collection of the Jefferson County Historical Society. Used by permission. Copyright JCHS)

While the previous family photo has been known for some time (as the only image of Knutsen and his family), this wonderful, important photograph was only just discovered (in 2002). It was first seen as a label in Symphony Harp Guitar HGT17, which I painstakingly pieced together in Photoshop from several pictures taken through the instrument’s soundhole by Chris Wilhelm (see Labels). Shortly after, an original photograph turned up in the collection of Jeanette Detlor (see Otto Anderson)! The question remains: when was it taken? The girls are noticeably younger, estimates from experts ranging from a year minimum to over three years younger.  This puts the introduction of the Symphony harp guitars not at 1900, but perhaps as early as 1897! They were almost certainly created by 1898 (and definitely by 1899).
Note Chris' and Anna's different guitars, and the traditional bowl-back mandolin played by Evalda.

(image copyright and courtesy Jeanette Detlor)

The following eight photographs are from  family photo albums passed down to Linda Cameron, who is Chris' great-great niece (descended from his brother Frank). The Knutsen Archives is extremely grateful to Linda for sharing these priceless images with us. Linda writes, 
"My grandmother (Margaret Cammon Pelton) rarely spoke of her Uncle Chris, I suppose because of his "scandalous" connection with his first cousin, Anna.  I do remember her telling me about how her uncle made "funny-looking guitars that had an extra piece that came up around the neck..." I was just learning to play the guitar myself, and I had never seen a harp-guitar at that point, so I had the strangest image in my mind from her description! I asked Gram if Uncle Chris was a good guitarist, and she said, "Oh yes, he was pretty good." (!) Gram passed away in 1996 at age 92, but I know she would be absolutely blown away by your website, and the interest people have in her uncle's guitars -- and I think genuinely thrilled! I wish she was here to see it."
So do I, Linda - so do I! - GM
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Chris Knutsen's parents, Ole Ferdinand and Bergetta Cammon, ca. 1894-1895 in Wheaton, Minnesota. Bergetta, same time frame. For Ole and Bergetta's wedding on December 17, 1857, Ole's best man's present was an inspirational book which probably contained prayers or spiritual readings for each day of the year. Ole and Bergetta used the blank pages at the front to record (in their native language) the births of their nine children. This book was handed on after Bergetta's death in August 1919 to their son Frank Willard (originally Fredrik Olai) Cammon. Another hand, probably Frank's, has recorded the death dates.
At right is Chris Knutsen's entry, stating "Christian was born the 24 June 1862."
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This family picture includes four of Chris' eight siblings, Eddie, Marie, Winnie and Frank; Frank's wife Mayme and children Lyle and Margaret; Chris' mother Bergetta; and Chris' wife Anna and daughter Myrtle. 
Seated, left to right: Lyle, Margaret, Bergetta, Eddie, Marie, Anna with Myrtle. Standing, l to r: Mayme, Frank, Winnie, Chris. Ca. 1906-1907.
At this time, Bergetta, Marie, Winnie, and Frank lived in the same block (Marie with Bergetta on the west side, Frank on the south, and Winnie on the east) and Eddie lived across the street from Frank and a half-block east. These homes were in the Minnehaha Park neighborhood of Minneapolis. The photo was probably taken in Winnie's backyard and that is most likely Frank's house in the background.
At right: Chris, Anna, and their previously unknown third daughter, Myrtle (b.1905).
Chris (leaning into center of frame) at a family picnic, 1916-1917. Chris with his niece Margaret, 1916-1917.

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Chris (left) with his brother Frank. Jean Findlay speculates that this was taken at their youngest brother Eddie's funeral (note the black collars on their coats) in Minneapolis in January 1929. Of the five brothers, Chris and Frank were the only two living at that time. This wonderful photograph includes (l-r) Chris' daughter Myrtle, his niece Margaret, and his granddaughter Lacretia (b.1907 to Evalda, Chris' middle daughter).
They in turn are holding  a standard ukulele, a large taropatch, and a large ukulele. 
The photo is from 1916-1917, judging by the ages of the girls. This also coincides with the two years that Frank Cammon (Margaret's father and Chris' younger brother) was in Los Angeles.

(images above copyright and courtesy of Linda Cameron. Help with captions from Linda and Jean Findlay.)

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A baker's dozen of Knutsens! This image, from the August, 1902 issue of The Cadenza magazine, is so spectacular, it gets its own page: Payne's Mandolin and Guitar School.
Hidden in this picture are Chris and Anna Knutsen!

(image courtesy and copyright Paul Ruppa)

chris-kbj1.jpg (83682 bytes) And who is this mysterious person...?

See the Featured Harp Guitarist of the Month!


   Knutsen-playing musicians 

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This incredible photo shows the only known harp guitar with the unusual soundholes pictured on both patents (see "Knutsen's Patents" below). Circa 1896 (see HGP11).

(Photograph from the Collection of the Jefferson County Historical Society. Used by permission. Copyright JCHS)

A fantastic cabinet card of a gentleman playing an 1896 patent style guitar. The features mark it as a possible Anderson-built instrument (see HGP20).

(image copyright and courtesy Hans Lorenz)

This similar instrument looks similar to one or two specimens already archived, so I am unable to list is as a new specimen.  One can almost read the label!  Additional images: full, headstock.

(image copyright Gregg Miner)

This fascinating photograph is from the Detlor collection, and pictures an unknown string quartet featuring a bizarre "one-armed guitar." It was built for Knutsen by Otto Anderson (see HGP16 and Otto Anderson).
3/2004 UPDATE! This incredible instrument has resurfaced!

(image copyright and courtesy Jeanette Detlor)


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These two photos picture Oscar Page, a logger from Wendling, Oregon with his Port Townsend-built Symphony Harp Guitar in 1900. 

(images copyright and courtesy of Lane County Historical Museum, Eugene, OR. Used by permission)

When I saw this postcard on eBay, I thought it was another one of Oscar Page. When I obtained a copy, it turned out to be a different fellow, and a different guitar (though unfortunately not distinct enough to be added to the Inventory count). 

(images copyright Dave McCord, Gregg Miner)

The seller told me, "I collect post office cancellations and this is a ghost town located just a few miles from where our sister lives. First Doane cancellation I have seen from Connie, WA."

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A rare original photograph of a family with a Knutsen player. The instrument was built in the 1900-1902 timeframe (see HGT44).

(image copyright and courtesy Stefan Grossman)

This Knutsen is from the same time period -seen in a beautiful cabinet card depicting an all-women's group. 

This instrument was built in the 1904-1905 timeframe (see HGT46).

(image copyright Gregg Miner)

Knutsen makes it south of the border! This 1907 photo taken in an unknown Mexican town includes Knutsen's earliest harp guitar (1896-98) (see HGP24).

(image from ebay)

Another 1896 patent-style harp guitar.

(image courtesy John Doan)


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This circa 1920s photo of a dashing gentleman was submitted by the grandson, who still has the c.1900 instrument (see HGT39).

(image copyright courtesy D. Pihlman)

From the 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition in Seattle, the "Alaska Theatre of Sensations" - featuring a Knutsen player. The photo helps date the evolution of the Seattle harp guitars (see HGS38).

(MSCUA, University of Washington Libraries, Nowell x1854)


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This "parlor-size," Double Point harp guitar is believed to be from the early Seattle period. Dan Most saw this and wondered if the young man might not be Tom Rousseau, Knutsen's son-in-law (see HGS13 and "Ads" below).

(image copyright Jean Cammon Findlay)

This picture is just a portion of a photograph of a Pentecostal Camp Meeting near Green Lake, WA in 1919. "Hidden in this picture" is a man with a Knutsen early-Seattle harp guitar. The man is Ingman Ivar Strum, and may have had a connection to Knutsen. The photo was provided by Strum's grandson, Bob, who believes his grandfather also built harp guitars (see HGS35 and Ingman Ivar Strum). 

(images copyright and courtesy Bob Strum)

Another wonderful photo taken at Bethel Temple, a Scandinavian church in Seattle - provided by Bob Strum - from another family member at a Strum family reunion. In addition to several Strum family members, it also includes an unknown individual playing another Seattle Knutsen harp guitar (see HGS36 and Ingman Ivar Strum).  

(images copyright and courtesy Bob Strum)

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Why is is that Knutsens seem to lend themselves to a church setting? This woman is the original owner of HGS22 - she's Tina Sofia Bohman, the maternal grandmother of the guitar's current owner. Pictured in her church with her string band group on Sept. 23, 1927.
(image copyright and courtesy Gregory Furse)

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And the recently discovered Knutsen-related church of Los Angeles: The Angelus Temple.  This c.1919 photo shows the church's famous founder, Aimee Semple McPherson (front row, center, with tambourine), with her gospel car on a road trip somewhere in California.  By a complete coincidence(?) there are two Knutsens in the group! (HCS4 and HGS55)
More to come on this remarkable story!

(image used by Permission of the Heritage Department of the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel)


amend1.jpg (28124 bytes) Inarguably the most fascinating Knutsen instrument photograph ever discovered!
The man on the right is Bert Amend, who lost an arm as a shake mill worker, only to return to music after inventing several attachments and devices to enable himself and similarly handicapped players to play many different instruments - including two or three fancy Knutsens! See additional photos and read all about it on the special page, Bert Amend & the One-Armed Musicians.
(image copyright and courtesy Robin Amend)

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A year after Robin Amend shared the above photos and story with us, I obtained another series of photos relating to Bert and Knutsen! These are also included in the special feature above.

(image copyright Gregg Miner)


harp-violin_player-miner.jpg (94319 bytes) This fascinating photograph shows a young man with what looks exactly like a Knutsen harp violin (or one-armed violin) - assuming Knutsen ever built one.  I say he did, perhaps after 1910, due to the Livermore patent (like the harp mandolins).  Though we can unfortunately never know, I have still given it an Inventory number: HV2.

(image copyright Gregg Miner)


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Santa Monica, California, 1914 Season: The house band of the Nat Goodwin Cafe on the pier! Can you imagine walking into a restaurant (in any era) and seeing a group with these instruments?! Interesting how these Los Angeles musicians are all playing Seattle-made Knutsens.
If the harp guitar on the left looks unusually large, it IS (see HGS23 and HGS24).

(image copyright Gregg Miner)

Inside of the Nat Goodwin Cafe. The musicians - including the "Versatile Harmony Four" - performed on the overhanging stage for the diners below.

(courtesy and copyright Ernest Marquez)

Nat Goodwin was a famous Broadway star of the early 1900s.  His restaurant/club was apparently open only for a few short years from 1914 to 1919.  These postcards come from the vast collection of Ernest Marquez, who has painstakingly assembled hundreds of them into the book Santa Monica Beach: A Collector's Pictorial History.
Four of these images of the Cafe do not appear in the book, and are reproduced here to give a flavor of the era and location of 1914 Knutsen-playing performers.

(Postcards courtesy and copyright Ernest Marquez)

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Another great postcard of two players of 1913-1914 Seattle instruments, from the collection of Bob Brozman. Apparently found in the case containing the very same harp guitar! See HGS31.

  (image copyright Bob Brozman)


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The first piece of sheet music found with a Knutsen on the cover! Though it clearly states it was written by Irving Berlin, two independent web sites list the song under: Composer & Lyricist: Halsey K. Mohr, 1917.

The group is Vardon, Perry & Wilbur - the latter plays the Knutsen

See close-ups of the guitar under HGT38. The trio also features a Gibson Style U harp guitar and 3-point F mandolin.

Images copyright and courtesy of Søren Venema.

This postcard shows The Rag-time Six, featuring Vardon and Perry, with their same Gibson instruments, but a new player with the same Knutsen

image copyright Gregg Miner


This marvelous photograph does not show Knutsen's instruments, but the builder was clearly influenced by Knutsen. Both of these bizarre instruments have double reinforcement bars to withstand the string tension. The instrument on the right has 14 bass strings - possibly tuned in 2 or 3 note cluster chords (much like fretless "chord group" zithers). The individuals were identified on the back of the photo as Ida and Will Moore. 
See Similar Instruments for more details.

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(image copyright and courtesy Jeff Carr)


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Courtesy of the Special Collections Department, University of Iowa Libraries. Copyright Images  from "Traveling Culture: Circuit Chautauqua in the Twentieth Century", a database of text and images drawn from the Redpath Agency Papers at the University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City, Iowa. Used by permission.

 Thanks to Ben Elder for discovering this incredible find!

A 1916 program of 
The DeLano Hawaiian Steel Guitar and Ukulele Sextette of Los Angeles!

Tom Noe says "This photo is a real find, and confirms our theory that was only supported by strong circumstantial evidence. I can't really tell what the two standing people are leaning on, although the headstock on the one the woman is holding appears to be a Knutsen headstock. The four that can be seen relatively easily are Knutsens. Look at the bridge on the instrument in the foreground. It is not the shape we usually see. Note also that the hollow square neck extends up to the 5th fret rather than the traditional Kona 7th fret. I have never seen this exact style before. It looks like all the guitars were crafted at the same time, and they look new. It would be wonderful to see one of these guitars surface! They are doubtless the progenitors to the Konas. I can't tell whether they have the convertible style's bracket assemblage. The one leaning on the woman at the left does not appear to have a bracket, but the one DeLano is playing does."

So there you are - most likely six new Knutsen Hawaiian guitars! I've added them to the Inventory under "Unidentified", as it's difficult or impossible to tell what most of them are. I agree that DeLano's is definitely a Convertible, and that the one on the far left is not. The bridges Tom refers to resemble those of existing HCW4 and HCW5.

Here's the rest of the program:

 

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Ten years later, The Delano (sp?) Hawaiian Guitar Club of Los Angeles, Cal. appeared on the cover of a 1926 FRETS magazine. None of the six woman named are from the original group. More importantly, the Knutsens have been replaced with what appears to later Weissenborn-made Konas, except for the center instrument.
(images copyright and courtesy of Ben Elder)


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These first two images appeared in the great King Benny Nawahi reissue CD produced by Robert Armstrong for the Shanachie label. The Hawaiian Novelty Five was led by older brother Joe (2nd from left). The photos are from Robert's own collection. 

Knutsen, of course, specialized in offering new instruments of all kinds specifically for Hawaiian musicians. Nawahi's rhythm section must have been quite a visual - two Dyer harp guitars and a black Knutsen! Note the extreme playing wear on the instruments (pickguards, anyone?) Photos circa 1919.

A spectacular hand-colored vintage photo of King Benny (playing an unidentified mandolin) with his brother on the Dyer and the same black-top Knutsen player.

(image copyright and courtesy Donatella Moores)

(images copyright and courtesy of Robert Armstrong)

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A black Knutsen harp mando makes an appearance in another Hawaiian group, Awai's Royal Hawaiian Quartet. "...which delighted thousands during the Panama-Pacific International Exposition at San Francisco in 1915." The caption and image are from The Superior Collection of Steel Guitar Solos, Vol. 1 by Keoki E. Awai - Using the Peterson System - ca. 1916.

(images copyright and courtesy Colin McCubbin)

A one-man-Hawaiian band, Jack LaVetta played several instruments including steel guitar, ukulele, harmonica and a Knutsen Symphony harp guitar.

(images copyright Gregg Miner)

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This delightful hand-tinted postcard is also believed to be from the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Expo. The back is marked "published by Cardinell-Vincent Co. of S.F." Depicted is the Hawaiian Pineapple Packers Ass'n in the Horticultural Building. This is the best resolution we can get of the band entertaining our pineapple packers. 
Looks suspiciously like a Seattle-era Knutsen harp guitar though!

(Postcard from the collection of Jeff Carr. Images copyright and courtesy Jeff Carr)

And speaking of the PPIE - author/historian Michael Simmons obtained a block of original unused tickets. Time machine, anyone?!

(image courtesy of Michael Simmons)

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This wonderful flyer pictures Joseph Kekuku (the legendary inventor of the steel guitar) and his Hawaiian Quintet. One of the members is playing an incredibly rare Knutsen - the second harp-"12-string" known (see HGS39).

(image courtesy of the Special Collections Department, University of Iowa Libraries)

Vierra's Royal Hawaiian Singers and Players of the 1923 Lyceum circuit featured a late-Seattle-era Knutsen (see HGS54).

(image courtesy of the Special Collections Department, University of Iowa Libraries)

Another rare 12-strings-on-the-neck Knutsen HG is played in R. G. Holldorff's Royal Hawaiian Serenaders (see HGS70). 

From Les Cook: "Ewalani Kanui saw this picture on your website.  She recognized her father David S. Kanui...(he) is holding the ukulele, standing to the right of the man with the harp guitar.  

Richard Gustav Holldorf was a German showman, born in 1877, and resident of Kansas City, Missouri. I doubt whether he actually performed with the Hawaiian troupe bearing his name. More of a business venture I suspect."

William Lorentino, an Indian dressed as a Hawaiian in Riverside, California in 1927, plays a Knutsen Hawaiian.

(Submitted by Ben Elder. Image copyright Los Angeles Public Library)

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This great illustration is part of an ad for Majestic Radio - from the Saturday Evening Post, Jan 4 1930.
Surely the artist was working from an earlier photograph of a real Hawaiian band, complete with a Knutsen Seattle-era Lower Bass Point harp guitar!

(images copyright Gregg Miner)

The Sunshine Trio, with a Knutsen Harp Hawaiian,  circa 1928, prove once again that Knutsens weren't just for the boys.

(image copyright and courtesy of Robert Armstrong)


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This wonderful photograph is from the collection of Norma Grinstead, and pictures her mother's best friend, Bessie Keaunui, ca. 1927. Norma's mother was a story in herself:
"Mother's name was Beatrice Woods and her stage name was Beatrice Kealoa Cook. She played on radio around 1927 on KFI, KECA and on Hawaii Calls. Her group was called Kealoa's Hawaiian Trio. She played with her trio and with others, mainly Bessie and Harold Lishman for private engagements, gave music lessons in her studio in Los Angeles and at one time sold guitars at Wilson Music Store in Pasadena. She played steel guitar for the most part, uke, standard guitar, piano and accordian. In fact she could pick up just about any instrument and plunk around on it and be playing something you recognize within minutes. I saw her do that in a music store with a marimba - in a few minutes she was using four mallets and playing, "Lady of Spain." I guess I should add she had never touched a marimba before in her life. She was born in Los Angeles on January 09, 1901, and passed away August 23, 1993 in Victorville, CA at 92 years of age. 
Of the woman in the photo, Norma explains,
"Bessie Lishman and mom were best friends since, I believe, 1924. I think her stage name was Bessie Keanui. She played guitar, steel guitar, uke and did the hula. Bessie's husband, Harold Lishman was a full-blooded Hawaiian (I called him uncle Hotcha). He taught Bessie how to play, they both taught mama, and they all played together for parties, business and social events in the Los Angeles area. They were very popular with a lot of bookings. I believe this to be around 1927 about the time of some of mama's radio days. Bessie and Harold were not in mama’s Kealoa's Hawaiian Trio, but they played together often. "Aunt" Bessie passed away while living with her daughter in Fiddletown, CA, around 1980, I think."

(image copyright Norma Grinstead and courtesy of Ben Elder)

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A September 2004 eBay offering included several lots from a scrap book that belonged to Bessie Keaunui & her husband Harold Lishman.  Harold's group, "Bells Famous Hawaiians" was a well known Hawaiian music and dance group that played nationwide, including the Western Vaudeville Circuit.  This flyer depicts the trio playing each others instruments, including a Knutsen harp mandolin and I THINK a harp uke also!

While I still haven't resolved that uke, I was able to obtain a better image of the mandolin, in the next photo.

(image from eBay, unfortunately no better image forthcoming)

Here are the Bell's Hawaiians again date unknown.   Some members listed in song list at bottom.  The harp mandolin is now seen to possess perhaps the fanciest binding of any Knutsen of any kind.  There is also a harp guitar.  Each distinctive enough to warrant specimen listings: HM26 and HGS67.

For some reason, Knutsen harp ukuleles rarely show up in group photos. 

Finally in 2006, two great new images were discovered.  This one is of harp uke owner Audell Wilson, c.1930 (see HU23).

(image copyright and courtesy of Glenn Cornick)

This rare Canadian postcard (no date) features an unknown Hawaiian band with a Knutsen harp uke (see HU29).

(image copyright Gregg Miner)


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Of course, Knutsen instruments weren't just for Hawaiian bands - the very serious played them also.
The Linrud Family Orchestra must have been pretty colorful. I wonder which one played the Knutsen Seattle-era harp Guitar?
(image from ebay)
This undated postcard shows Proctor's Fireside Group, complete with Seattle-era Knutsen-playing cowboy.

(image copyright and courtesy of John Doan)


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Knutsens in the movies! OK - so this is a Dyer - but maybe it's Knutsen-signed! Caption reads: 
"Rodolph (sic) Valentino, Gloria Swanson and Elinor Glyn, Paramount Studios, Hollywood.
Working-up "atmosphere." The authoress is telling Gloria a heart-rending story to "bring the tears" appropriate to the impending "shot". An accompanying tinkle of "sob" music does its part in helping on the emotional climax."

(Postcard from the collection of Gregg Miner. Image copyright Gregg Miner)

THIS is what Knutsens were made for! (and no, it's not Groucho Marx)

And the complete original image below:

This is just too bizarre!  From Wheeler & Woolsey's Cockeyed Cavaliers, 1934. Robert Woolsey serenades Thelma Todd on what surely must be an oversized prop guitar - or is it? 
It's gotta be at least two feet wide, with an incredibly long scale length - but it looks like a real instrument! It has tuners, strings, a horizontal back brace, and dot fret markers.
Was Knutsen himself asked to make a prop guitar for Hollywood in his last years? Did some Studio prop master happen to have a Knutsen lying around, and copy the headstock and bridge? Or was it, in fact, a Knutsen Bass?

(images copyright Gregg Miner. Thanks to Ben Elder (who else!) for the tip.

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(images copyright and courtesy of John Doan)


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What IS it with Rudolph Valentino and Dyers/Knutsens?
From Palm Springs: First Hundred Years, the caption reads, "Rudolph Valentino, while working on a French Foreign Legion movie in the desert about 1920, is entertained by Peter Pester, the hermit of Palm Springs."

 

(Left  image copyright Palm Springs Historical Society Collection. Image and text courtesy of the book's author, Frank Bogart, mayor of Palm Springs. Second image from left copyright and courtesy of Robert Armstrong. Right 2 and lower images copyright Gregg Miner)

So WHO was this strange person playing a suspected Knutsen guitar in the middle of the desert?! As author Frank Bogart explains in the previously mentioned book, "One of the more interesting characters living in the area around Palm Springs in 1917 was young Peter Pester (actually William Pester - GM). Pester had a cabin  in Palm Canyon and another next to a hot spring in Chino Canyon, where he lived during the summer months. He was the first "nature boy," putting on clothes, often a monk's robe, when curious canyon visitors came into view. He earned a living making canes from palm blossom stalks, fashioning Indian arrowheads, and selling postcards with a message urging proper diet and healthful living. Though he spent many hours roaming the canyons, he had an equal passion for reading. Years later a large library was discovered in his deserted cabin. In the 1920s, Pester moved from Palm Canyon but returned every weekend with his telescope, charging ten cents to look at the moon or at Lincoln's profile on the distant canyon wall."
pester2-miner-closeup.jpg (180549 bytes) Pester is playing what appears to me to be a fairly new Knutsen hollowneck Hawaiian guitar (HW19 in the Inventory). 
Ben Elder, who apprised me of these images, won't commit to the Knutsen identification yet ("Too close to call: I'm not going out on a limb between
Knutsen and Weissenborn and Knoneoftheabove.").

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Flea market denizen Ben Elder discovered this unusual picture of Nashville songwriter John D. Loudermilk in his mid-'60s songbook. The caption reads: "The weird looking job with the two necks was given to me by Chet Atkins. It is very rare. You know when Chet can't play it, it's gotta be rare." See HGS32.
(image courtesy Ben Elder)
chet_merle.jpg (46773 bytes) And speaking of Chet Atkins...on this 1974 LP with Merle Travis, Merle is holding an Evolving Symphony guitar (HGT43). Not sure if he also played it on the record.

Image copyright the Stephen Bennett collection.


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Knutsens - alive and well into the present day. The late Michael Hedges played a black top Knutsen on occasion.

(left image copyright and courtesy Ebet Roberts. Center image copyright copyright Alan Tignanelli,  thanks to Mike Marken for submission. Right image copyright Ron Middlebrook/ Centerstream Publishing,
from Contemporary Fingerstyle Guitar  by Ken Perlman)


   Knutsen Advertisements 

Knutsen's first known
newspaper ad is from
Port Townsend, Dec. 21, 1897,
and reads:

His second ad (below), one month later, is from the Port Townsend Leader, Jan. 1898

And the next month,
from the Port Townsend Leader,
Feb. 1898:

C. KNUTSEN,
The Inventor, Sole Patentee and Manufacturer of the
One Arm Guitar
offers these Famous Instruments at a discount of 60 per cent. during the next Three Months. This Special offer is made to introduce the Guitar in all places where it is not advertised. Finest toned Guitar manufactured. Send for Circulars.
I am the sole patentee of this Guitar in the United States, England and Canada.
                              C. KNUTSEN,
Port Townsend, Dec. 21, 1897.

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(reprint from the Collection of the Jefferson County Historical Society. Used by permission. Copyright JCHS. Text of other two ads from samples in the JCHS Collection)

REDUCED PRICES!
For a short time only C. Knutsen offers his One-Arm Guitars for sale at the following prices:
Short Arm Guitar, - - - - - - - - - - -  $15.00
Harp Shape, 6-string Guitar, - - - - - $18.00
Harp Shape, 9 or 11-string Guitar, -  $20.00
Reduction of 60 per cent, from list prices. I am the patentee of this instrument in the United States, England and Canada, and any infringement will be followed up to the full extent of the law.
CHRIS KNUTSEN

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The Knutsen flyers at right and left were provided by Knutsen's relatives. 
See "Harmony in the Family" for the whole story.

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This flyer was discovered tucked in the strings of a guitar that has been in the Knutsen family since it was new (#HGP9)! It's quite a find for a few reasons:
First, it's from Port Townsend, and we know Knutsen left Port Townsend in 1900 - probably in the summer.
Second, it mentions Dyer as being Knutsen's distributor - possibly before the Larson Brothers were involved (see The Knutsen-Dyer Connection)
Third, it confirms what the early family photo above does - that the Symphony harp guitar was created and available in Port Townsend.
So it's likely that both the Symphony harp guitar and the Dyer relationship started in1899, perhaps even earlier.

This flyer measures about 4" by 4." 
It's from Knutsen's 1542 Temple St. address. We still aren't sure precisely when Knutsen was at this address.
The "parlor-size, Double Point" guitar shown (#HGS13) is believed to be from the early Seattle period (1906-1908).

(images copyright Jean Cammon Findlay)

And speaking of Dyer...the ad at right appeared in the Cadenza magazine, June, 1902. 
BUT - does it represent a Knutsen-built Knutsen-style Symphony model - or a Larson-built Knutsen?
See The Knutsen-Dyer Connection.

(image copyright Paul Ruppa & Gregg Miner)

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Imagine walking into the old Broadway department store…and stumbling across a display of Knutsen instruments! Sound far-fetched? This cryptic ad ran as part of a full-page ad for the Broadway Department Store in the August 12, 1917 edition of the Los Angeles Times. 
Broadwayad.gif (23169 bytes)  Underneath the picture of a generic ukulele-banjo (not Knutsen's), the full text reads:

-For the first time Knutsen Harp Ukuleles and Steel Guitars underpriced
-Note these saving prices that I offer for the first time beginning Monday - $10, $12.50, $15, and $20.
Harp Ukuleles at $8.75, $10.50, $12.50
Steel Guitars at $17.50, $22.50, $31.50, and $50
Harp Models of Mandolins $22.50

What does it tell us?

For one thing, just the fact that Knutsen got his distinctive instruments into the respected Broadway store seems quite an accomplishment. Remember that in 1917, Knutsen had competition from much better (and consistent) builders, like Weissenborn and the Schireson Brothers. Of course, the fact that they’re advertised as being discounted more than 30% isn’t necessarily good news. The "I" in the ad is presumably Arthur Letts, the owner of the Broadway. Note that either Letts or Knutsen has segregated the inconsistent, no-two-exactly-alike Hawaiian guitars into 4 price categories, the ukuleles 3, and the mandolins only 1. As theorized, harp guitars do not appear to have been made in Los Angeles. Harp mandolin manufacture is also something of an unknown – nearly all seem to have been built in Seattle. This ad makes it clear that they continued in Los Angeles, at least for a little while.

Jim Tranquada, who discovered and submitted this ad, also observed that Knutsen seems to be absent from "two of the big L.A. music stores, George J. Birkel and Southern California Music Company. These firms advertised 'American made ukuleles,' but provided no maker or brand names. Their advertised brands were Leonardo Nunes (Birkel) and Manuel Nunes and (later) Martin (Southern California). Unfortunately, my knowledge of what Birkel and Southern California Music offered for sale is limited to what they advertised in their newspaper ads - I have not seen any catalogs from the period. I do have a 1912 wholesale catalog for Sherman, Clay of San Francisco, and I can safely say there are no Knutsen instruments listed therein."

The Broadway Department store chain started in 1896 on 4th and Broadway in downtown Los Angeles (in 1996 it was purchased by R.H. Macy & Co). This image shows the original store, circa 1909 – much as it looked when Knutsen moved into town. As to dating the postcard, historian Brent Dickerson writes, "1909 or 1910 - looking at the postcard image, that makes sense, as there are both cars and horses in the view. Cars didn't become common until about 1900, and horses were banned from the streets of downtown in 1910. The Broadway was considered one of the "finer" department stores - that is, with "the better sort" of merchandise - for its whole existence. Bullock's and Robinson's were the two such stores that were just a notch above The Broadway in quality, and May Co. just a notch below; but all of these were long considered the sort of stores where society sorts could shop proudly and without embarrassment."

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This postcard is one of hundreds forming a wonderful "walking tour" of old downtown Los Angeles from around 1900 to 1920 on Brent Dickerson’s wonderful site. Take a stroll yourself through Knutsen’s old stomping grounds!

(image copyright Brent Dickerson)


Another form of advertising of course are the many labels included in the instruments themselves . . .
Knutsen's Instrument Labels


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