Chris Knutsen's Instrument Labels
by Gregg Miner, as part of
Update, February, 2011:
"Smoking Gun" provenance found on Ukulele "Patent Applied For" labels!
As far as we know, Knutsen was, for the most part, a one-man operation (the early "Otto Anderson" years the one confirmed exception), and often, it seems, trying to make ends meet. Couple this with his ever-evolving line of instruments, plus his continual change of home/shop addresses over the years, and it's easy to see why his labels were never standardized for any length of time.
We see all manner of labels, from the printed "New Hawaiian Family" label containing four photographs of period instruments, to scraps of paper written on by hand, and even a few which appear to be bits of paper cut from typed envelopes addressed to Knutsen! It's also possible that some instruments without a label may never have had one to begin with. And, of course, Knutsen never bothered with serial numbers!
I'm compiling the information from the Noe/Most book, along with new examples into the chart below. Though this will be useful in dating instruments, in some cases, we're still dating the labels themselves. Despite the great detective and deduction work by Noe & Most, it's likely that we'll be tweaking some of the dates as we learn more.
For example, we still can't say exactly when and where the "New Hawaiian Family" labels first occurred, nor how long they were used. My working hypothesis is that the "New Hawaiian Family" was created around 1914, before or right about when Knutsen left Seattle - and may have been a clever marketing concept intended to coincide with and capitalize on the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Expo. These labels were then continued in Los Angeles, and may have gave way to the "1542 Temple St." and other L.A. labels, or they may have been used concurrently, even up to the end (1930).
Likewise, the precise start date of the 1542 Temple St., L.A. address is still unproven. 1920 is the first confirmed date at this location, though there is suspicion of an earlier date of 1917, or even 1914.
Further adding to the confusion is Knutsen's use of many different labels during the same time period.
I'm happy for any input of thoughts, clues or facts, to help fine tune this important study.
UPDATE 10/15/03: I decided it was time I start assigning codes to the labels, so each instrument listing can include an accurate reference to the specific label (instead of just generic text). It's becoming crucial to the continuing dating study. This new code appears to the right of the images, and will be used on each applicable instrument page.
|Approximate year||Appears on||Label Code||Text/Description||Comments|
|Harp Guitars||Hawaiian Guitars||Harp Mandolins||Harp Ukuleles|
|1895||HGP1||none. #4 in pencil under inside neck joint on one example||Dan Most theorized that #4 may have signified "instrument # 4."|
|1896-1897||HGP2, HGP5||PT1||Rubber stamp of both patent instruments||Need an image, somebody!|
|1896-1897||HGP8, HGP13, HGP14, HGP18, HGP19, HGP20, HGP22, HGP28, HGP29||PT2||
|Note that the patent date listed is for the original One Arm Guitar. But this label also appears on three of the 1898 Patent style guitars.|
|1897-1898||HGP17, HGP21, HGP22||PT3||
|Either realizing the above labels were false advertising, or because he now filed for the new patent (May 17, 1897), Knutsen crosses out the date and hand-writes over it, "applied for."|
|1897-1898||HGP6, HGP7||PT4||"Patent applied for" in pencil||Probably similar, if not identical, to above.|
|1898-1900||HGP27, HGT15, HGT17, HGT45, HGT53, HGT57||PT5||
"THE ONE-ARM HARP GUITAR.
|1899-1900||HGP3, HGT2||PT6||"Patented United States, Canada, and England"||Same label as above with "The One-Arm Harp Guitar" cut off.|
|1898-1900||HGT10, HGT17||PT7||Family portrait taken about 1898|
|Only example known is extremely faded. Rare example of printing his name as "Chris."|
|1900-?||HGT30||TA1||Illustration of a Symphony Harp Guitar. Text (if any) faded.||This label was positioned against a back brace with the image horizontal. This positioning and the lack of paper around the image suggest that it is different from the next label.|
|Unfortunately, the address is missing from the only known label. It is presumed to be the 1001 south J St., Tacoma address.|
|1900-1902||HGT13, HGT19, HGT23, HGT37||TA2||
Mr. C. Knutsen
"Mr. C. Knutsen" is printed in a fancy italics
Note that this refers specifically to slanted frets.
HGT4, HGT5, HGT7, HGT18,
HGT26, HGT29, HGT52
|Was this a misprint - or was Knutsen trying a different phonetic spelling for some purpose?|
|1903-1906||HGT16, HGT18, HGT35, HGS47, HGT49, HGS64||TA4||
|Same era, same words - but with the correct spelling (though "octave" is now misspelled)|
|1906-1908||HGS16, HGS25, HGS33, HGS35, HGS53, HGS72||HM21||SE1||
|Notice that Knutsen has dropped the "Symphony" name. Perhaps because he transferred the rights to Dyer?|
|1910-1913||HGS5, HGS6, HGS7, HGS8, HGS9, HGS10, HGS11, HGS12, HGS15, HGS19, HGS22, HGS28, HGS31, HGS37, HGS40, HGS48, HGS49, HGS50, HGS56, HGS61, HGS62, HGS63, HGS66, HGS69, HGS73||HM28 (cut down)||SE2||
|"11 STRINGED HARP GUITAR" in red letters. The word "are" is misspelled "er."|
HCW2, HCW6, HCW11, HCW12, HCS1,
HU21, HU25, HU27,
|Now believed to refer to a patent for the "convertible" feature (never granted). See SE9 below for another version.|
|1906-1913||HGS3, HGS2, HGS42||HM4, HM5, HM10, HM13, HM18, HM20, HM24, HM29||SE4||
|The first we see of Knutsen's label cost-savings.|
|1910-1914||HGS4||HM2, HM7, HM9, HM19, HM22, HM27||SE5||
C. KNUTSON (misspelled)
Another misspelled label.
Strangely, these seemingly identical cut labels (same typewriter?) are different: "Sole" lines up under the "KN" slightly differently
|1913-1914||HGS1, HGS34||HTD4||HMA2||HU15 (photo cut off)||SE7||
THE BEST TONE MANDOLIN AND
GUITAR IN THE WORLD
|The harp guitar pictured is the same one shown in the "New Hawaiian Family" label. On the uke's label, the photo is cut off, and Knutsen has hand-written "Patent aplod."|
Nearly identical to above
|This is a different printing, with the word "MADE" moved down to the next line.|
|1910-1917||HCW13||HU11, HU12, HU23, HU24||SE9||
|Now believed to refer to a patent for the "convertible" feature (never granted). See SE3 above for another version.|
(possible time frame)
|When and how many instruments did Kaai distribute in Hawaii?|
PATENT APPLIED FOR
|A new label discovered in 2006 - Knutsen is printing a new "P.A.F." label in L.A.!|
|1914-1920s||HCP1, HCP8, HCP10, HCP16, HP1, HP2, HP3, HP4, HW3, HW4, HW5, HW18, HW21, HW24, HW29||LA1||
|The "patents" he refers to seem to have never been granted.|
|1914-1920s||HCW3, HCW7, HCW10, HCP11, HCP13, HCP15, HCP17, HCP21, HP5, HW7, HW8, HW9, HW10, HW23, HW24, HW25, HW34||LA2||full "New Hawaiian Family" label, yellow||The yellow and white "runs" of this label may or may not coincide with different time periods.|
|1914-1920s||HM3||HU1, HU18||LA3||half "New Hawaiian Family" label, yellow|
|1914-1920s||HBA1||HU2, HU30||LA4||half "New Hawaiian Family" label, white|
|Another strange one - when and how many instruments did B&J distribute in the East?|
1600 Temple St.
|While we don't know exactly when the famous 1542 Temple St. address began, we know that Knutsen was listed at this address for only one year - in 1916.|
|1920-1927 or 1928. Possibly earlier (back to 1914?)||HCP5||LA6||Chris
handwritten (believed to be in Knutsen's own hand - though could be just from an envelope addressed to him as below)
|Still unsubstantiated is when Knutsen first moved to this address. The earliest verifiable date is 1920.|
|1920-1927 or 1928. Possibly earlier (back to 1914?)||HCP2, HCP6, HCP20, HHW4?||LA7||
|The quickest, cheapest possible labels Knutsen could find!|
|1920-1927 or 1928. Possibly earlier (back to 1914?)||HCP12, HHW4, HHW11, HHW12, HHW15, HW20||HU4||LA8||
|This is the complete label. There is a large space before address at bottom.|
|1920-1927 or 1928. Possibly earlier (back to 1914?)||HCS3, HCN1, HCN3, HHW1, HHW14, HHW19, HHW20, HHW21, HHW24||LA9||
C. KNUDSEN (misspelled)
|Bottom portion appears cut off.|
|1927-1930||HHW7, HHW8, HHW22||LA11||
|Knutsen's labels improved in the last few years of his life and career.|
TEL MUTUAL 1678
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