Here are new photos of the wonderful Dahlman harp guitar owned by Dave Stutzman (see Stutzman’s Harp Guitars).
The staff has been very interested in deciphering the mysterious headstock inlay. They believe it looks original, rather than an add-on; the question is, what are the letters?!
I might even ask, “Are they even letters, and not some other strange hybrid symbols?”
Originally, the interpretation was “S. H. T.” – but now the consensus of all who have examined them is “Unknown-A. T.” Meaning, they don’t think the first letter is an “S” and the middle letter is more an “A” than an “H.” They’ve even searched online in vain for any type of script that matches this unique design. What do you think?
The reason we are so interested, of course, is due to the blog 2 days ago, showing Henry Dahlman himself, with what might be this very instrument. Here are the two images side by side:
As you can see, we seem to be at a stalemate as regards positive identification.
Dave took this opportunity to examine the guitar and relayed that the instrument is very finally made – he thinks the insides show finer workmanship than Martin guitars of the same period. It is X-braced, so was likely a very early steel-string harp guitar. It looks large in Dahlman’s hands, and indeed it is – 20-1/2″ wide! A beautiful vine & pot neck inlay, abalone binding, side inlay, pearl buttons, only finely done.
The backstrip includes the Fed 23, 1892 patent, so was built after that date, but who knows how much later. As stated previously, it has Dahlman’s own stamp, and “NO.” with no following serial number. Still, we don’t know who built it – Dahlman, Charles Akeson, or another Dahlman employee.
Now I’d really like to see the basses strung, so we can see how they line up alongside the neck.
Enjoy these additional photos, courtesy of Stutzman’s Guitar Center:
Maybe one option is to scan the headstock image into a text file and then use Microsoft Word optical character recognition OCR to see what it thinks the letters might be. Have not tried this before, but found this reference.