S. Nathaniel Adams

Documenting history as well as my experiences with repairing and restoring vintage guitars.

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About The Stratosphere Guitar Manufacturing Company was founded in Springfield, Missouri by brothers Russell Herman and Claude Luther Deaver...

About

The Stratosphere Guitar Manufacturing Company was founded in Springfield, Missouri by brothers Russell Herman and Claude Luther Deaver. According to the 1950 census, both brothers worked as painters and they were listed as painters in the 1953 city directory [1][2]. The 1954 city directory is unavailable but by the time of the 1955 city directory they were both listed as working at the Stratosphere Guitar Manufacturing Co [3][4].

The factory was located at 341 Boonville Avenue in Springfield, Missouri which was a manufacturing block just north of the city center. 

300 block of Boonville Avenue in Springfield c.1959
Boonville Ave runs vertically on the right side of the photo
The exact building the Deavers used is unknown
Image Credit: Historic Aerials

From L-R: Russell, Russell Jr, Mina, Ruth, and Claude Deaver
Image Credit: Ancestry.com user gcdb53

1957 Patent application for a double neck electric guitar
Image Credit: Google Patents







 Sources

[1] https://www.ancestry.com/discoveryui-content/view/138944082:62308?tid=182251037&pid=312374524275&hid=1040242460821
[2] https://www.ancestry.com/discoveryui-content/view/141938487:62308?tid=182251037&pid=312374524313&hid=1040242461354
[3] https://www.ancestry.com/discoveryui-content/view/546416993:2469?_phsrc=zMK1371&_phstart=successSource&gsfn=russell&gsln=deaver&ml_rpos=6&queryId=65db53ebef41366f80a12da362b7d4f0
[4] https://www.ancestry.com/discoveryui-content/view/632312403:2469?_phsrc=zMK1373&_phstart=successSource&gsfn=russell&gsln=deaver&ml_rpos=10&queryId=65db53ebef41366f80a12da362b7d4f0


1850 Donaldson & Hall ad Image Credit:  Missouri Digital Heritage About Donaldson & Hall was a tool manufacturer and importer locate...

1850 Donaldson & Hall ad
Image Credit: Missouri Digital Heritage


About

Donaldson & Hall was a tool manufacturer and importer located in St. Louis, Missouri founded by James Donaldson and John Hall. 

James F. Donaldson

James F. Donaldson was born in Maryland around the year 1800. He moved to St. Louis, Missouri. According to the 1840 census, Donaldson's household consisted of six free people and one slave. One male between 15 and 19, two males between 20 and 29, one male between 30 and 39, one female between 10 and 14, one female between 30 and 39, and one female slave between 24 and 35 years old [2]. By the 1850 census, James worked as a Hardware Merchant and owned a house valued at $8,000 (approx $297,000 today) on Lucas Place between 15th and 16th Streets. He lived there with his wife Julia, daughters Caroline and Sarah, and son John H.P [3]. In the 1860 census, he had moved his family to Dayton, Ohio and his personal estate was valued at $16500 (approx $611,500 today) [4]. He died of typhoid fever on Monday January 20th, 1868 [5]

John H. Hall

John H. Hall was born in Kentucky around the year 1800 and later moved to St. Louis, Missouri. In 1852, he lived in Lucas Place between 15th and 16th Streets. In the 1860 census he listed his occupation as being "hardware" and lived with his wife Mary and children Leontha, William, Charles, Millard, and Frank. 

Sources

[1] https://www.google.com/books/edition/Morrison_s_St_Louis_Directory/VHhQTpx4Y7EC?hl=en&gbpv=1&dq=donaldson+%26+hall+st+louis&pg=PA68&printsec=frontcover
[2] https://www.ancestry.com/discoveryui-content/view/3614052:8057?tid=&pid=&queryId=18c5fdd69973ee5118f40365ca2cc955&_phsrc=zMK1234&_phstart=successSource
[3] https://www.ancestry.com/discoveryui-content/view/4105295:8054?tid=&pid=&queryId=5d000eb2ba80bee394711d0a0b323c22&_phsrc=zMK1233&_phstart=successSource
[4] https://www.ancestry.com/discoveryui-content/view/41806951:7667?tid=&pid=&queryId=18c5fdd69973ee5118f40365ca2cc955&_phsrc=zMK1234&_phstart=successSource
[5] https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/78740464/james-f-donaldson?_gl=1*ubo428*_ga*MTIzNzkzNjIxLjE2NDIxODkwMDQ.*_ga_4QT8FMEX30*MTY1MjcyNTcyNy4xNi4xLjE2NTI3MjY0NjMuMA..


1844 Ad from Green's St Louis Directory Image Credit:  Google Books About Moses (b.1808, d.1881) and Nathaniel Hixson Stout (b.1806, d.1...

1844 Ad from Green's St Louis Directory
Image Credit: Google Books

About

Moses (b.1808, d.1881) and Nathaniel Hixson Stout (b.1806, d.1867) were brothers and plane makers based in St. Louis, Missouri. Both men were born in Cloverhill, New Jersey before moving to St Louis. Their business was located at No.96 Main (or First) Street. 

Moses was making planes in St. Louis as early as 1836 according to a city directory [1]. Its unclear when Nathaniel joined the business but they appear in an 1850 city directory as being in business but not any of the 1870s directories [2]. They evidently parted ways as Nathaniel was living in Tennessee by the time of the 1860 census. He died in 1867. Moses was retired when the 1870 census came around and was living in a home valued at $11,000. 


Sources

[1] https://cdm16795.contentdm.oclc.org/digital/collection/p16795coll7/id/3030/rec/2
[2] https://cdm16795.contentdm.oclc.org/digital/collection/p16795coll7/id/55444/rec/1
 

  1850 Ad in the St Louis Business Directory Image Credit:  Google Books About John Gass owned a piano and music store at 85 Fourth Street i...

 

1850 Ad in the St Louis Business Directory
Image Credit: Google Books

About

John Gass owned a piano and music store at 85 Fourth Street in St. Louis, Missouri. He sold pianos and guitars as well as other personal goods like umbrellas, parasols, and canes. His shop also repaired instruments

Missouri State Gazetteer and Business Directory for 1876-77 Image Credit:  Missouri Digital Heritage About Herman Murat (also known as Herma...

Missouri State Gazetteer and Business Directory for 1876-77
Image Credit: Missouri Digital Heritage

About

Herman Murat (also known as Hermann Morath) was a Swiss-born luthier who was involved in a handful of musical instrument manufacturer and repairing firms in St Louis. He was born around 1840, immigrated to the United States in time to serve in the American Civil War, and settled in St. Louis, Missouri. By 1871, he was in business with a French luthier named Nicholas Lebrun (b.1819, d.1899). They were listed in the City directory as being manufacturers of musical instruments and were situated at the southeast corner of 6th and Pine Streets [7]. In 1872, the firm was located at 207 S. 5th Street but by 1876, Murat was listed as an instrument maker while Lebrun was working elsewhere with band instruments [8][9]. 

1881 City Directory
Image Credit: Ancestry.com

By 1881, Herman was now in business with William Tischendorf and located at 320 Walnut Street. Tischendorf had been working as an instrument maker since 1879 [3]. But by 1887, Murat was working by himself again at 9 N. 6th Street and William no longer appears in the City directories by 1891 [6][10]. Herman died a year later in February of 1888 and was buried in Jefferson Barracks. 


Sources

[1] https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/person/tree/182251037/person/312370004155/facts
[2] https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/2469/images/10551305?usePUB=true&_phsrc=zMK1092&_phstart=successSource&usePUBJs=true&pId=530965241
[3] https://cdm16795.contentdm.oclc.org/digital/api/singleitem/image/p16795coll7/14677/default.jpg?highlightTerms=William%20Tischendorf
[4] https://cdm16795.contentdm.oclc.org/digital/collection/p16795coll7/id/20627/rec/1
[5] https://cdm16795.contentdm.oclc.org/digital/collection/p16795coll7/id/22515/rec/3
[6] https://cdm16795.contentdm.oclc.org/digital/collection/p16795coll7/id/32283/rec/8
[7] https://cdm16795.contentdm.oclc.org/digital/collection/p16795coll7/id/570/rec/1
[8] https://cdm16795.contentdm.oclc.org/digital/collection/p16795coll7/id/7937/rec/4
[9] https://cdm16795.contentdm.oclc.org/digital/collection/p16795coll7/id/3575/rec/2
[10] https://cdm16795.contentdm.oclc.org/digital/collection/p16795coll7/id/23535/rec/5

About Stenciled drawings and scenes began appearing on American-made guitars in the 1920s. They are differentiated from decalcomania in that...

About

Stenciled drawings and scenes began appearing on American-made guitars in the 1920s. They are differentiated from decalcomania in that stencils are made of paint sprayed through a cutout while decals are loosened in water and left to dry on the instrument.

I will be building a list of artists who were behind these instruments as I come across them

Vernon Winslow

1943 Announcement
Image Credit: [1]



Sources

[1] https://books.google.com/books?id=PFsEAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA69&dq=sears+roebuck+harmony+co+musical+instrument&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjb4e3W29L1AhWUkokEHR6dDYAQ6AF6BAgCEAI#v=onepage&q&f=false

About C. Bruno & Son was a New York distributor of musical instruments which existed from 1868 to about 1971. It was founded by the Germ...

About

C. Bruno & Son was a New York distributor of musical instruments which existed from 1868 to about 1971. It was founded by the German immigrant Charles Bruno who began his first music business venture in 1834. By the time of Charles Sr's death in 1884, his son was bestowed a massive musical merchandise empire which he ran until his death in 1912 [1]. 

C. Bruno & Son was a distributor of foreign and domestic goods and worked with manufacturers where the goods were purchased wholesale, branded for Bruno, and then sold through their catalog and storefronts. There is no evidence of a C. Bruno factory and some of the Bruno instruments display parallels between other builders. The catalogs refer to The Vernon as "our own make" which should be better interpreted as being made exclusive for the company.

The Vernon

The "Vernon" was a line of instruments that C. Bruno began in 1904, according to the trademark documents, and used through the 1920s. It was officially trademarked in 1942 [2]. The name was applied to banjos, guitars, mandolins, tiples, ukuleles, and banjo ukuleles.

Guitars

Who built "The Vernon" guitars? Bruno never shared that information

"The Vernon" Style 26, 28, and 29

 


"The Vernon" Style 22 and 24

Sources

[1] https://www.brasshistory.net/Bruno%20History.pdf
[2] https://tsdr.uspto.gov/#caseNumber=191376&caseSearchType=US_APPLICATION&caseType=DEFAULT&searchType=statusSearch



  1906 Abernathy Vise and Tool Co. Advertisement Seen are the No. 70 and No. 20 vises Image Credit:  Google Books About The Abernathy Vise a...

 

1906 Abernathy Vise and Tool Co. Advertisement
Seen are the No. 70 and No. 20 vises
Image Credit: Google Books

About

The Abernathy Vise and Tool Company was founded by Hugh H Abernathy in the early 1900s. Abernathy was born January 1871 in Indiana to Thomas and Emma, his family later moved to Chicago and he studied to become a lawyer [11]. His brother Robert L was a machinist and his other brother Thomas B worked in the lumber industry [10].

By 1903, he had applied for a patent on a quick release vise that could be loosened without turning the screw. His company had seven different vise models by 1906 of the 'clutch' and 'roller' varieties [13]. 

1904 Advertisement
Image Credit: Google Books

His business was located on W. 62nd Place (also known as Englewood Avenue) in Chicago, Illinois on the site of the Simpson Methodist Church. The church was moved to 60th and Prince. The Abernathy factory was a stones throw away from the Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne, and Chicago Railway and bordered on the East and West by South Wentworth and South Princeton Avenues. The block was later razed for Interstate 90

An 1895 Sanborn map showing the Simpson M. E. Church that previously occupied the lot
Image Credit: Library of Congress

After Abernathy's company was purchased in 1919, he retired to Los Angeles, California. By 1930, he had moved his mother out with him and owned a $100,000 home on Wilcox Avenue. He died in 1938 at the age of 67 having never married [11]

Timeline

  • 1897
    • US593551A - Patent applied for on a box cutting and nailing machine with his brother Thomas B Abernathy
  • 1898
    • Hugh was working as a lawyer in Chicago [10]
  • 1899
    • US656574A - Patent applied for on a chain brake for street cars, assignor to L P Ingersoll
  • 1903
    • US831919A - Patent applied for on a quick release vise with a cam
  • 1904
    • Located at 1264 Monadnock Building in Chicago, Illinois [4]
  • 1906
    • Patent granted on US831919A
    • US1140646A - Patent applied for on a quick release vise design that uses a roller to actuate the release 
  • 1907
    • Located at 603 51st Street [12]
  • 1908
    • Located at 331 Englewood Avenue [6]
  • 1909
    • Located at 327-331 Englewood Avenue [7]
    • Capital stock of $10,000 [15]
  • 1913
    • Located at 229-231 Englewood Avenue [9]
  • 1915
  • 1919
    • Located at 2814-42 W. 26th Street [8]
    • The company was purchased by C. Christiansen, a workbench manufacturer, in January [1][14]
  • 1920
    • Business at 2227 Grand Avenue [3]
  • 1936
    • Located at 2828 W. 26th Street [5]
  • 1961
    • Located at 132. W Home Avenue in Villa Park, Illinois [2]

1904 issue of Wood Craft. The Abernathy booth is left of center 
This image is from the 1904 St Louis Worlds Fair
Located at Block 6, Aisle 1
Image Credit: https://www.google.com/books/edition/Wood_Craft/uJJZn9Yfp6YC?hl=en&gbpv=1&dq=abernathy+vise+and+tool+co&pg=RA1-PA46&printsec=frontcover

1919 Advertisement showing the No. 80 Vise
Image Credit: Google Books

1908 Advertisement
Image Credit: Google Books



Sources

[1] http://www.vintagemachinery.org/mfgindex/detail.aspx?id=11528
[2] https://books.google.com/books?id=KtwDAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA76&dq=abernathy+vise+and+tool+co&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjsrqOTodj3AhXVLs0KHau5B5w4FBDoAXoECAkQAg#v=onepage&q=abernathy%20vise%20and%20tool%20co&f=false
[3] https://www.google.com/books/edition/Rudder_Marine_Directory/WeksAAAAYAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&dq=abernathy+vise+and+tool+co&pg=PA428&printsec=frontcover
[4] https://www.google.com/books/edition/Iron_Age/raU-AQAAMAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&dq=abernathy+vise+and+tool+co&pg=RA17-PA74&printsec=frontcover
[5] https://books.google.com/books?id=otsDAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA629&dq=abernathy+vise+and+tool+co&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjW6Ky6pNj3AhUGCM0KHSXCCAAQ6AF6BAgBEAI#v=onepage&q=abernathy%20vise%20and%20tool%20co&f=false
[6] https://www.google.com/books/edition/Hardware_Dealers_Magazine/ANxNAAAAMAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&dq=abernathy+vise+and+tool+co&pg=PA1125&printsec=frontcover
[7] https://www.google.com/books/edition/Hendricks_Commercial_Register_of_the_Uni/xsovAAAAMAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&bsq=abernathy
[8] https://www.google.com/books/edition/Manual_Training_Magazine/IfDNAAAAMAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&dq=abernathy+vise+and+tool+co&pg=PT25&printsec=frontcover
[9] https://www.google.com/books/edition/Chilton_Automobile_Directory/wR9bAAAAYAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&dq=abernathy+vise+and+tool+co&pg=PA390&printsec=frontcover
[10] https://www.ancestry.com/discoveryui-content/view/1232664824:2469?tid=&pid=&queryId=46fceb249ef3a692fc4260c56c9fe85c&_phsrc=zMK1123&_phstart=successSource
[11] https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/person/tree/967691/person/7025590577/facts
[12] https://www.google.com/books/edition/Industrial_Education_Magazine/y7E_AQAAMAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&dq=abernathy+vise&pg=PT19&printsec=frontcover
[13] https://www.google.com/books/edition/Proceedings_of_Meeting/HGRLAAAAMAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&dq=abernathy+vise&pg=RA3-PA193&printsec=frontcover
[14] https://www.google.com/books/edition/Industrial_Arts_and_Vocational_Education/OoQ9AQAAMAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&dq=abernathy+vise&pg=PR35&printsec=frontcover
[15] https://www.google.com/books/edition/Certified_List_of_Domestic_and_Foreign_C/iFdJAQAAMAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&dq=abernathy+vise&pg=PA4&printsec=frontcover

  1006 Olive Street from a 1909 Sanborn Map Company illustration of St Louis Image Credit:  Library of Congress About The Thiebes Piano Comp...

 

1006 Olive Street from a 1909 Sanborn Map Company illustration of St Louis
Image Credit: Library of Congress

About

The Thiebes Piano Company was founded in St. Louis, Missouri by Arthur C. Thiebes in 1893. He had previously worked as a piano tuner for The Bollman-Drumeller Music Company and a year later he went into business with Frederick C. Stierlin and father-in-law Augustus Eichele. They then bought out Bollman-Drumeller and moved into their facilities at 1111 Olive Street.

They manufactured The Thiebes-Stierlin Piano, The Paragon Musical Instrument Strings, Rienzi mandolins, and Monogram brand guitars as well as supplying instruments to local conservatories. The firm continued to expand until the need for a new building was too great. In 1904 they commissioned Theodore C. Link to construct a new building at 1006 Olive Street and moved into it in 1905. A competitor, Balmer-Weber, moved in next door at 1004 Olive Street. This area would become known as "piano row" due to the concentration of stringed instrument manufacturers in the block. Thiebes-Stierlin often advertised that they were located "at the big blue Victor sign"

In 1909, Frederick Stierlin left to become president of the Koerber-Brenner Music Company and Arthur renamed the company back to the Thiebes Piano Company and advertised that their reputation will be "zealously guarded." [1][2] Thiebes continued to build his fortune on pianos and the new demand for player pianos

Rudolph Wurlitzer purchased Thiebes' company in 1919 and he left the music business to pursue an administrative career in oil [1].

The building is still standing and is the last of two buildings that remain of Music Row in St Louis.

Sources

[1] https://mostateparks.com/sites/mostateparks/files/Thiebe-Stierlin%20Music%20Co.%20Bldg.pdf
[2] https://www.newspapers.com/image/571553341/?terms=thiebes-stierlin&match=1

About Hugo Willner (or Wilner) was a Finnish luthier born June 24, 1887 in Gawlakarleby, Finland to parents Andrew and Johanna. His family l...

About

Hugo Willner (or Wilner) was a Finnish luthier born June 24, 1887 in Gawlakarleby, Finland to parents Andrew and Johanna. His family left the old country and by 1892 had relocated to Seattle, Washington where Andrew worked as a carpenter. His upbringing is relatively opaque but by 1917, he had moved to Hawaii and was working for John A. Templeton in the pineapple business.

Willner became a naturalized US Citizen in 1919 and by 1922 was working as a violin maker and repairman for the Hawaii Sales Co Ltd at 1009 Nuuanu Avenue [5]. Evidently that didn't pay the bills because in 1923 he was working as a salesman for Hawaiian News & Thrum's [7]. But fortune turned around and in 1924 he was the owner of Willner's Music Shop in Honolulu [4]


In 1928, he left Hawaii with $500 on his person destined for a new life. He stopped in Seattle, first, to visit his family and then departed for British Columbia where a job at the Vancouver Music Company awaited him [3][8].

A 1932 auction of donated goods held by local celebrity, Big Brother Bill, featured a Hawaiian guitar donated by Hugo. It was bought by a Mr Eric Brown for 18.25 [2]. In 1944, he moved to room 3 at 1116 Broad Street [1]



1944 Article on Hugo Willner
Image Credit: Newspapers.com

Hugo died in 1956 at the age of 68. He was living in Richmond, BC and his only surviving relative was an unnamed sister living in the US. His grave marker in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park includes his rank in the US Quarter Master Corps

Image Credit: Find a Grave



1943 Article on Willner entitled "The Blue Flower" by Iris Smallwood
The poor resolution is from the source material
Image Credit: Newspapers.com

Instruments

The instruments built by Hugo Willner are far and few between and his guitars seem to borrow heavily from the designs of larger firms. To date, I have not found any examples of his violin work and only a handful of guitars have appeared on the internet. 

His instruments are identifiable via his name stamp which is pressed into the braces and neck block. His serial numbers are penciled on the neck block and as of writing #1306 is the highest serial number. It is unclear whether he was counting his repaired instruments or whether he actually started at 0 and counted up. 

Flat Top

His flat top guitars borrow from the Martin styling except are provided with a larger pickguard not unlike a Euphonon. Based on the references I've seen on the internet, they can be ladder or X braced.
 
Hugo Willner #1273 Flat Top Guitar
Image Credit: Reverb - Robert's Gear Depot

This example is curious as it uses an archtop bridge in conjunction with pins directly in the soundboard. 

Hugo Willner #? Flat Top Guitar
Image Credit: Canadian Listed.com

Archtop

Thus far only one archtop guitar from Willner has surfaced. The neck looks like Willner's work but the body, surprisingly, looks exactly like a early 1950s Kay archtop. The sunburst is smaller and crude but the F holes and top and back carves are identical to the pressed archtops of Chicago. 

Carving an archtop is a monumental undertaking even for an experienced violin builder and Hugo would've been quite old around the time this instrument was completed.
I don't believe it is unreasonable to suggest that Hugo found it easier to reneck a Kay archtop.

Hugo Willner #1306 Archtop Guitar
Image Credit: Reverb - Chris Music Man

Patents

US2473980/CA458184

Hugo filed one patent in his lifetime and it was for a novel bracing idea for an acoustic guitar. His patent was filed on February 16th, 1948 and intended to strengthen the top of the acoustic guitar and prevent it from warping due to string tension. 

One unique trait are the addition of two tension wires inside the body which pass from the transverse fingerboard brace, through any other parallel braces, and finally end in the tailblock where two nuts are provided to tension them. The patent mentions that the strings can be tuned to match the guitar or to another tension as desired. He also suggests that tension on the wires can be used to stiffen or loosen the top to change the sound of the instrument.


Wellner references three patents:
1892 - US476907 - A single tension wire inside of a violin
1911 - US1128217 - Joseph Bohmann's patent for tension rods inside the body of a mandolin
1916 - US1214075 - Two tension wires inside a violin to counteract the string tension

Sources

[1] https://www.newspapers.com/image/505796444/?terms=%22hugo%20willner%22&match=1
[2] https://www.newspapers.com/image/490563658/?terms=hugo%20willner&match=1
[3] https://www.newspapers.com/image/498982808/?terms=%22hugo%20willner%22&match=1
[4] https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/2469/images/16036761?treeid=182251037&personid=312363541834&usePUB=true&_phsrc=zMK445&_phstart=successSource&pId=1039959672
[5] https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/2469/images/16174476?treeid=182251037&personid=312363541834&usePUB=true&_phsrc=zMK445&_phstart=successSource&pId=1049338989
[6] https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/2469/images/16222566?treeid=182251037&personid=312363541834&usePUB=true&_phsrc=zMK445&_phstart=successSource&pId=1052670662
[7] https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/2469/images/16041145?pId=1040208385
[8] https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/1344/images/30928_2000913131-00429?pId=2680178


John Brandt Mandolin Label Image Credit:  Revere Auctions About John Brandt was born August 1851 in Germany, he married Agnes Brandt in 1885...



Jno. Brandt Maker Chicago Ill Pat. Oct. 1899 Brandt Warranted  WM. Lewis Sole Agent Chicago Ill
John Brandt Mandolin Label
Image Credit: Revere Auctions

About

John Brandt was born August 1851 in Germany, he married Agnes Brandt in 1885 and immigrated to the United States in 1886 [3]. Agnes was listed as 'widowed' in the 1910 census indicating John's death sometime prior.

John Brandt's instruments two main dealers around 1899 were Grinnell Brothers in Michigan and W.M. Lewis in Chicago[1][2].

Patents

US634103

Filed on April 10th, 1899, John Brandt patented a bracing system for a sturdier mandolin. His mandolin invention was the use of spring steel (E) strips underneath a spruce plate (F) . He also included another spring steel bar (D) which was glued into the sides of the mandolin to prevent the body from spreading apart and breaking.
Image Source: Google Patents

US713390

Patented March 7nd, 1902, John Brandt's unique mandolin headpiece included inlaid tuners of his own design and a narrow headstock to allow for easier playing of chords. His patent illustrates a Gibson-shaped headstock but many of his extant instruments have a violin scroll.
Image Credit: Wonkenstein - MandolinCafe.com

US798869

Filed on February 20th, 1905 and granted on September 5th, 1905 by John Brandt on behalf of Lyon and Healy.

The instrument was given the body shape of a violin but meant to be strung in doubles similar to a mandolin. It has a cutaway for easier access of the left hand to the higher frets. The top is not arched in the carved or pressed styles but would be comprised of multiple pieces of wood glued along their width in an arch. 


Google Patents



 Sources

[1] https://www.newspapers.com/image/119312993/?terms=%22waldo%20guitar%22&match=1
[2] https://books.google.com/books?id=Hyg3AQAAMAAJ&pg=PT15&dq=brandt+mandolin&hl=en&newbks=1&newbks_redir=0&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjcoeqG5f_2AhWWbc0KHfi5C0AQ6AF6BAgKEAI#v=onepage&q=brandt%20mandolin&f=false
[3] https://www.ancestry.com/discoveryui-content/view/10695848:7602?tid=&pid=&queryId=1ded18b3326448c0a78b13f98eede4db&_phsrc=zMK279&_phstart=successSource

1901 Waldo Advertisement featuring their signature f-hole bowlback mandolin Image Credit:  Music Trade Review About The Waldo Manufacturing ...

1901 Waldo Advertisement featuring their
signature f-hole bowlback mandolin
Image Credit: Music Trade Review

About

The Waldo Manufacturing Company was a subsidiary of The Barrows Music Company founded by John Franklin Barrows in Saginaw, Michigan. John Barrows was born in Jacksonville, Illinois in 1850. Barrows moved to Saginaw in 1888 and in February of 1894 he had formed his music company and a month later a factory under the supervision of Victor Kraske. The first instruments produced by the firm were "banjos, banjeaurines, piccolo banjos and bass banjos."[5]  In 1896, Enos L Gregory was Secretary of Barrow's company, he would later go on to open Gregory's Music House [7]. By 1898, J.M.B Hough was the Vice President and George W Bostwick was the Secretary and Treasurer of the music company. Barrows' brother, Don, was the bookkeeper [6]. 

There is mention on various auction websites of a "James H. Waldo" but I have not found any evidence that he existed let alone having an involvement in this company.

1904 Article about a 1000 mandolin order
Image Source: Music Trade Review

Evidently around the turn of the century they began expanding into guitars and mandolins and by 1904 had received an order for one thousand mandolins to be delivered at one hundred mandolins per week. The article also mentions a "large force of men at work, who are putting in sixty hours a week. Evidently this boom in production was temporary as a July 13th, 1905 factory inspection noted only two men working at the firm.

1901 Sanborn map showing the factory at Tuscola and N. Franklin
It has since been demolished

Barrows moved to Ohio sometime around 1910 and the latest reference to the firm I can find is 1908. I assume they ceased production shortly after. John Barrows died in 1914

Timeline

  • 1894 - Waldo Manufacturing Company established [1]
  • 1895 - "The Waldo" trademarked by the Barrows Music Company in Saginaw, Michigan [4]
    • First use claimed to be 1891
  • 1902 - Located at 214 Tuscola in Saginaw, Michigan and in the business of  "mandolins, guitars, etc" [2]
  • 1905 - Employed two men over the age of 16 and in the manufacture of mandolins [1] 
  • 1908 - Employed one man [3]
  • 1914 - Barrows dies
Mandolins, guitars, banjeaux, mandolas, mandocellos harp guitars, banjeaulins, banjeaurines, piccolo banjeaux, bass banjeaux
1903 Waldo Advertisement
Image Credit: Music Trade Review

"The Waldo" US Trademark #26850
Assigned to the Barrows Music Company

Patents

US597352

George Bostwick, Victor Kraske, and Rudolph Lorang patented a bowlback mandolin in 1898 featuring F-holes which is what the "Waldo" brand name is best known for. These have structural issues and the tops dip around the F-holes.
US Patent US597352

US574057

Barrows also patented a music cabinet for holding papers
US Patent US574057A


Sources

[1] https://books.google.com/books?id=KRmEoNkcvskC&pg=PA113&dq=%22waldo+mfg+co%22+michigan&hl=en&newbks=1&newbks_redir=0&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiuo_fz3Pr2AhWKCTQIHf2XDjUQ6AF6BAgGEAI#v=onepage&q=%22waldo%20mfg%20co%22%20michigan&f=false
[2] https://books.google.com/books?id=fJLhAAAAMAAJ&pg=PA116&dq=%22waldo+mfg+co%22+michigan&hl=en&newbks=1&newbks_redir=0&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiuo_fz3Pr2AhWKCTQIHf2XDjUQ6AF6BAgFEAI#v=onepage&q=%22waldo%20mfg%20co%22%20michigan&f=false
[3] https://books.google.com/books?id=hVEpAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA128&dq=%22waldo+mfg+co%22+michigan+-sprague&hl=en&newbks=1&newbks_redir=0&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjE5KGn3vr2AhWDHzQIHZ_8AIAQ6AF6BAgHEAI#v=onepage&q=%22waldo%20mfg%20co%22%20michigan%20-sprague&f=false
[4] https://tsdr.uspto.gov/#caseNumber=26850&caseSearchType=US_APPLICATION&caseType=DEFAULT&searchType=statusSearch
[5] https://mtr.arcade-museum.com/MTR-1894-18-47/index.php?page_no=18
[6] https://www.ancestry.com/discoveryui-content/view/424922130:2469?tid=&pid=&queryId=b6a72639d8a3c5bca801cdc02a86c288&_phsrc=zMK134&_phstart=successSource
[7] https://www.loc.gov/resource/g4113sm.gla00095/?sp=72&r=0.173,0.868,0.604,0.26,0