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

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Company History  In 1918, volume 2 of "Manufacturing and Wholesale Industries of Chicago" by Josiah Seymour Currey was published w...

Regal Musical Instrument Company


Company History 

In 1918, volume 2 of "Manufacturing and Wholesale Industries of Chicago" by Josiah Seymour Currey was published which contained summaries of Chicago manufacturing firms. This is a contemporary source which gives us some background behind the Regal instrument company of the era. Bob Carlin wrote an incredible book "Regal Musical Instruments: 1895-1955" that contains catalog photos and a rare oral history of the company from a former employee. I would highly recommend purchasing the book.

Regal Trademark Application #51,372
Filed Aug 7, 1905 by Lyon and Healy
In use since 1895 by Wulschner & Son


According to Currey, the Regal Musical Instrument Company was founded in 1908 by Frank Kordick and Anton Nelson who purchased the "minor stringed instrument department of the great musical instrument manufactory of Lyon & Healy". Lyon and Healy had evidently lost interest in this area of business and had focused more on building pianos, harps, and other "fine products" [1]. 

Frank Kordick

Frank Kordick was born in Meuern in Bohemia on February 3rd, 1872 and immigrated to Chicago in 1880. Kordick attended public school until he was 14 and then he served a two year apprenticeship with the Joseph Bohmann Musical Instrument Company. By 1888 he was working for Lyon & Healy and was in charge of "contract work" with fifteen men under his supervision. Frank worked at Lyon and Healy for twenty years and at his peak was in charge of four different departments. He married Alma Smith in 1897 and had a daughter, Helen, born in 1899 [1]. Frank died on November 19th, 1940 at the age of 68 [2].

Regal 

The first two years of business were conducted on Lyon and Healy's premises where they utilized three floors for the construction of instruments and employed twenty-five of Lyon and Healy's most skilled luthiers. Their first year's sales 'aggregated forty thousand dollars'. The original building was located at 1438-40 Bryan Place in Chicago (now W Randolph Street) and is no longer standing but its location is just behind where Lyon and Healy Harps is currently situated. [4]

1911 Advertisement [3]

In 1911,  Regal purchased five city lots on West Grand Avenue spanning 125' x 150' in preparation to build their new four floor factory. As of summer of 1917, two floors had been constructed and plans were in motion to construct the last two. The company was reported to have a steady of growth an din 1916 employed one hundred men and aggregated $150,000 in sales [1].

Regal discontinued their operations in February of 1954 and their trademarks were purchased by The Harmony Company. They did not purchase any of Regal's materials or tooling [5][6].

The Factory Today

The last Regal factory sits at the southwest corner of W Grand Avenue and N Kedzie Avenue. There is a large empty lot to the east and I suspect some of the buildings have been torn down through the years.

Regal Musical Instrument Co factory at 3215 W Grand Avenue
The original painted logo is still visible on the brick



Regal Trademark Application #269,001
Filed July 2, 1928



Sources

[1] https://www.google.com/books/edition/Manufacturing_and_Wholesale_Industries_o/nS7PAAAAMAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1
[2] https://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?indiv=1&dbid=2542&h=2614221&tid=&pid=&queryId=d02b0bb4b399de2afa70bb26eea3dcd4&usePUB=true&_phsrc=OTJ303&_phstart=successSource
[3] https://www.google.com/books/edition/Directory_of_Music_Industries/hMkwAQAAMAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&dq=%22Anton+Nelson%22+regal&pg=PA90&printsec=frontcover
[4] https://www.google.com/books/edition/Certified_List_of_Domestic_and_Foreign_C/wldJAQAAMAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&bsq=1438%20%22bryan%20pl%22%20Chicago
[5] https://www.google.com/books/edition/The_Purchaser_s_Guide_to_the_Music_Indus/8YE5AAAAMAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&bsq=discontinued%20business%20in%20february.
[6] https://www.google.com/books/edition/The_School_Musician/2p09AAAAMAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&bsq=%22regal+musical+instrument%22+1954&dq=%22regal+musical+instrument%22+1954&printsec=frontcover
[7] "Regal Musical Instruments: 1895-1955" (2011) by Bob Carlin