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

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1930s Kay Kraft with factory original decals Image Credit:  Mike and Mike's Guitar Bar Decalcomania, commonly known as decals, really pi...

The Hunt For Original 30s Guitar Decals

1930s Kay Kraft with factory original decals
Image Credit: Mike and Mike's Guitar Bar

Decalcomania, commonly known as decals, really picked up in popularity with American audiences around the 1920s and 30s. Decals could be added to furniture, food containers, and other objects to help identify them or add some flair to an ordinary item. Guitar manufacturers got into the trend by extensively using decalcomania and stenciled artwork on cheap instruments to make them more appealing to young players. This is most commonly seen with the "cowboy" stencil guitars of the 1940s.

Meyercord Company advertisement c.1902
Image Credit: Music Trade Review

For those who may follow my work regularly, you have probably seen the c.1930 Meyercord catalog that I scanned and uploaded on my website as a reference. I did not find the exact decals that I was searching for in the catalog but I saw some similar styles which was reassuring. From the sheer amount of advertising, I imagine that the Meyercord Company was one of the biggest players in Chicago for decalcomania. I also found evidence in my research to suggest that the American manufacturers were threatened by German decalcomania manufacturers and lobbied to have tariffs placed. So there is always a chance that the exact decals I seek may have come from Germany. 

Whether they were domestic or import, I think I did learn a fair amount from the brief research I put into this

Image Credit: Vintage Blues Guitars
Image Credit: Cream City Music

Decalcomania Manufacturers

  • Brown-Sinramm Co. from New York [Source]
  • U.S. Decalcomania Company (became the Decalcomania Co) [Source] 
  • Palm, Fechteler, & Co [Source]
  • Thomas A. Edison, Inc. [Source]
  • National Decalcomania Corporation in Philadelphia

  • J. W. Beresford & Co. from Birmingham, England [Source]

Decalcomania Importers