I need help on this one, as something doesn’t add up. Or maybe it does add up – frankly, it’s just too much of a coincidence not to.
OK, do you remember the Howard harp guitar I showed in last week’s blog on the Stutzman harp guitars?
It’s a model I haven’t paid much attention to and had only sporadic information on. I knew that Michael Holmes’ Mugwumps Encyclopedia listed Howard as a “Wurlitzer brand name (1896-1920s),” and I’ve had this Wurlitzer ad in Iconography for years (sorry, no record of where I got it, possibly Michael Holmes himself).
Something I never paid attention to was that Mugwumps also listed a “Howard, Eugene” as maker during the same period, and also in Cincinnati. Obviously, this sounds like the source of the Howard brand at Wurlitzer – everyone agreed?
I had never seen a label from this instrument until by complete coincidence a fellow name Ed Lofgren sent me a photo of his own instrument literally 4 days after I had done my Stutzman post. As you can see, this matches the Mugwumps listing, stating, “Eugene Howard, Maker.” One can further see that the Stutzman instrument almost certainly has the exact same label; the graphics are just visible in John Doan’s lo-res camera phone photo:
But you may recall that in my Stutzman blog, I had jumped to the conclusion that “Howard” was, in fact, Howard Wurlitzer, one of founder Rudolph’s sons who had then joined the business. That seemed to add up, didn’t it?
So was I wrong? Well, after seeing the new label, I did some more checking, and it seems that Howard Wurlitzer’s middle name was “Eugene.”
OK – what’s the gag?! There is no way that in circa 1900, Cincinnati counted among its citizens a Eugene Howard and a Howard Eugene Wurlitzer, both of whom happened to be guitar makers, with the former providing the latter with his harp guitar to carry under their common name. Gotta be some pseudonym, right?
Someone, please tell me I’m not crazy.