Dating the Shutt Catalog and Instruments
by Gregg Miner, November, 2014

Aligning the dates of the Shutt instruments with the catalog instruments and then the specific patents has proven to be quite a puzzle, as the catalog contains apparent inconsistencies, while the patent dates seem awry.  Evidence from specimens is spotty, as there are so few, and even fewer with dated labels.


Right 3 instruments:

The earliest known date of the "Professional Model" body shape that (almost) matches the 1914 patent is a mandolin dated 1913.  

A brown specimen from 1915 is also known. 

It appears that this design was sporadically made from 1913 to 1916.  

However, the full line had been produced for the catalog, which we'll look at next.

shutt_guitar.jpg (47503 bytes)
This Artist's Model Guitar is labeled Style G, No.3, 1911.  It is the only one I'm aware of and is from the Roy Acuff Museum book.  Tragically, it was lost in the Nashville flood of Spring, 2010.  Lowell Levinger's wonderful Artist's Model Style 3 is labeled
No. 1004, Jan, 1912.
This "Style B, No. 1" guitar is labeled No. 3005, 1914 A rare mandola, with label reading: Style D#2, No. 3008, Aug, 1914 This mandolin is No. 103x (illegible 4th digit), 1916.


There are now at least two known identical catalogs, plus a few duplicated pages in a 1914 Sherman Clay & Co. catalog.  Jack Shutt’s catalog includes his son's handwritten "1912, Grandpa Shutt," but of course, that could be a later guess.  The cover states it is catalog “A-13,” which I hadn’t really paid much attention to originally, but may hold our final clue.  Shutt’s opening remarks hint at an earlier catalog, but his statements could be taken various ways.  I suspect there was no earlier catalog ( Members are welcome to study the entire document here).

As I mentioned above, certain clues in the catalog, patents and surviving instruments simply do not align.  So I created this chart to try to wrap my head around it.  I include all of Shutt’s patents that pertain to the early mandolins and guitars with filing and granted dates, along with relevant catalog particulars.  The patents are in order of filing dates.

Patent #





Which suggests that catalog was created


but before:


original mandolin design



not represented




refined scroll mandolin design




Sept, 1911



“double bass guitar”



"applied for"

March, 1912

March, 1915


elevated guard plate



"applied for"

June, 1912

May, 1913


simple mandolin design



not specifically alluded to, but similar instruments are included.


March, 1914?


compensating bridge



"applied for" under images, but "'patent' bridge" in text.

April, 1914

May, 1915






“patent tailpiece”




·        The first mandolin design − only one specimen of which is known − was replaced by the next patent design, so was long gone by the time of the catalog.


D41792, the refined scroll mandolin design patent, was granted on September 19, 1911.  It appears in the catalog as “patented”, therefore the catalog came after this date.  Pretty straightforward.

The Mando-Bass-Harp-Guitar is described in the catalog as “patent applied for.”  Thus we can assume the catalog dates between this patent’s filing and grant dates of March 29, 1912 and March 9, 1915. Note that for some reason this patent originally called the “double bass guitar” was not granted for almost three years.  

The catalog states that the elevated guard plate is “patent applied for.”  This is consistent with the previous bullet, but suggests a much tighter 11-month window between this patent’s filing and grant dates of June 8, 1912 and May 12, 1913.  

Red herring #1?: Shutt’s simpler, asymmetrical body design is represented in the catalog with a full line of completed mandolins and guitars.  There is no mention in the catalog of a patent unique to this design, yet one was filed on March 2, 1914 (and granted 3-1/2 months later).  As there is a known specimen dated “1913,” I believe that this design (and instruments) actually appeared soon after the scroll version of 1911, perhaps the following year.  I believe that Shutt decided long after the fact to file a patent for this design (note that he also altered the right upper bout flare from the actual asymmetrical instruments produced).  Why?  Because he was concurrently involved with a new design patent that he had apparently licensed to the Harmony Company in 1914 (D45968: see my main Shutt article).  This event may have prompted him to consider protecting his own earlier design, as both designs had archtops and f-holes.  Thus, this patent dates are unrelated to the catalog date.

Red herring #2?: The catalog refers to the new compensating bridge as both “patent applied for” and “patent bridge.”  Whatever the case, this would seem to put the catalog in or after 1914, when this patent was filed.  However, we’ve already established our provisional pre-May 1913 catalog date due to the pickguard dates.  Thus the bridge must have been ready to file before the pickguard was granted in May, 1913.  I have no answer; perhaps Shutt had begun his application process (or intent) for this invention earlier?  Regardless, either all the above entries are in error, or this one is.


The reference to a “patent tailpiece” could refer to something of Shutt’s that was submitted but not accepted, but I suspect it’s simply one of the earlier patented tailpieces.  You can see that he used the then-common “clamshell cover” tailpiece.  I believe this was the Wurlitzer patent 519,751 of 1894 (mandolin experts, please correct me if I’m wrong).

Finally – after I had provisionally narrowed down the timeframe to within the second half of 1912 and the first five months of 1913, I remembered the catalog cover stating "A-13."  Surely "A" signifies "catalog number one" and "13" denotes "1913"?


  • The first Shutt mandolins were built around the time of the December, 1909 patent filing for the first design.

  • From early 1911 to early 1913, Shutt created his full line of instruments: all models in both body shapes. The scroll models came first, then the simpler models.

  • His first and only catalog was then printed in the first few months of 1913 (Note: All models were built and images made from them for the catalog).

  • Both production harp guitars appeared in this catalog, while the sub-bass guitar additionally appeared in The Crescendo September, 1912 issue.


Harp Guitar of the Month: Archives
Collectors, Authors, Scholars: Want to create a page about a certain harp guitar maker or instrument? Contact me!

If you enjoyed this article, or found it useful for research, please consider supporting so that this information will be available for others like you and to future generations. Thanks!


If you enjoyed this article, or found it useful for research, please consider making a donation to The Harp Guitar Foundation
which supports, so that this information will be available for others like you and to future generations. 
Thank you for your support!

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, 2011, 2012, 2013,2014. All Rights Reserved.

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