Meet Henry Dahlman

Coincidence piles upon coincidence…

Just 4 days after my Stutzman blog, I received new information on one of his instruments (the Howard), which I blogged about last week.  Then just a few days later, something came in out of the blue regarding another of Stutzman’s harp guitars – his elaborate 6-bass, tree-of-life Dahlman, shown again at left.

This is fancy 6-bass version of a special harp guitar (not named as such at the time) that Henry Dahlman of Minneapolis patented in 1892, with 4 sub-basses arranged in a backwards arc so that they could be plucked by the left hand thumb (instead of the right hand)!  Several specimens are known, and, where label info is known, seem to be stamped Charles Akeson (a Minneapolis guitar builder who was apparently commissioned to build them for the Dahlman Company).  Virtually nothing is known of either Akeson or Dahlman.

Here is the first image I’ve seen of Henry Dahlman, and though of poor resolution, it’s amazing.  It comes from Dahlman’s granddaughter, Joanne Stephens.  In it, Henry holds an elaborate harp guitar that appears virtually identical to Stutzman’s “one-of-a-kind” instrument!  Same tree-of-life fretboard inlay, same 6 sub-basses.  It even looks like there may be something on the headstock.

However, the initials on the existing specimen (not yet clarified) seem to be “S.H.T.” – which wouldn’t seem to fit a personal instrument owned by “H.D.”

Of course, it’s possible that someone added the monogram later.  There doesn’t seem to be a trail of provenance on the Stutzman instrument, nor are we sure yet if the inlaid initials are original or were added later.

Another important feature is that this instrument is stamped “Dahlman” on the center back strip, rather than the usual “Akeson”.

Hopefully, there will be more to come on the gradually evolving Dahlman story.

  1. Jo Stephens Says:

    Hi Gregg,
    After seeing a violin-uke today at the Goodwill, my husband was looking up unusual string instruments on the web and went back to your site-so I finally got to read the post-thanks for giving me a little credit.
    In my husbands search He also came a across a YouTube video of a Denny Schwartz playing a Dahlman harp guitar from 3/12/2011, what fun to actually see one of these instruments played and think Grandfather may have built that

Leave a Comment

The Harp Guitar Foundation            The Harp Guitar Gathering®

History          Players         Music         Luthiers         Iconography         Articles 

 Forum                 About                Links                Site Map                Search               Contact

All Site Contents Copyright © Gregg Miner, 2004,2005,2006,2007,2008,2009,2010. All Rights Reserved.

Copyright and Fair Use of material and use of images: See Copyright and Fair Use policy.