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

Home Top Ad

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

Regal Musical Instrument Company - Chicago, Illinois

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

Regal Musical Instrument Company

Regal as a brand name actually existed in two separate incarnations. One in Indianapolis, Indiana, and another in Chicago, Illinois. The former being known as the Regal Manufacturing Company. I will be focusing exclusively on Regal after it had ceased to exist in Indiana and was revived out of Lyon and Healy. For probably the best resource on all Regal instruments, I would highly recommend the book "Regal Musical Instruments: 1895-1955" by Bob Carlin. It's worth every penny.

"Manufacturing and Wholesale Industries of Chicago Vol. 2"  by Josiah Seymour Currey was published in 1918 and contained summaries of some of Chicago's manufacturing firms. This contemporary source begins the documented story of the Regal Musical Instrument Company.

Founded in 1908 by Frank Kordick and Anton Nelson, they purchased the "minor stringed instrument department of the great musical instrument manufactory of Lyon & Healy". Lyon and Healy already had at least three decades of experience in instrument manufacture with their award winning Washburn line of instruments as well as their large production of budget guitars such as the Lakeside and Jupiter lines. Lyon and Healy had evidently lost interest in this area of business and had returned their focus on building pianos, harps, and other "fine products" [1]. The first two years of business remained on Lyon & Healy's premises until the firm had grown enough to finance construction of a building of their own [4] 

1911 Advertisement [3]

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 Trademark Application #269,001
Filed July 2, 1928


  • 1908 - Regal is incorporated out of Lyon and Healy by Frank Kordick and Anton Nelson
    • They were located on Lyon and Healy's premises at Randolph St and Ogden Avenue [8]
      • The original building was at 1438-40 Bryan Place and is no longer standing
      • The space was shared with the Wilson & Jacobs Drum Mfg Co [4]
    • They employed twenty-five of the 'most skilled and expert' instrument makers at Lyon and Healy
    • Their first year 'aggregated' $40,000 in sales [1]
  • 1911-2
    • Regal purchases a 50x152 plot of land from Charles F. Wolf located on Grand Avenue about 64 feet north west of Kedzie Avenue [9]
    • Construction immediately began on a four-story structure, initially built to two stories, and would have 20,000 square feet of office and manufacturing space [1]
Regal Musical Instrument Co factory at 3215 W Grand Avenue (present-day)
The original painted logo is still visible on the brick
  • 1916
    • Regal aggregated $150,000 in sales and employed one hundred men
    • Plans began for the completion of the two additional stories on the factory [1]
  • 1918
    • Ernest Schlemm, a night watchman, was found dead at the Regal factory by another watchman. No cause of death was made public [11].
  • 1926
    • Regal debuts a fingerboard-mounted tuner for the ukulele [14]
Ad for the Regal Ukulele Tuner
Image Credit: Music Trade Review
  • 1928
    • An orange and blank calendar for the 1928 year is distributed by Regal. It features a 'New Year cherub' in a hat playing a Regal guitar with a dog [13]
  • 1929
    • A large billboard is erected at the intersection of Kedzie and Grand sporting the slogan "The Richest Child is Poor Without a Musical Training" [10]
  • 1947
    • Regal begins advertising in the Chicago Tribune classifieds looking for workers [12]
  • 1954
    • Regal's operations cease in February [5]
    • The Harmony Company purchases their trademarks but does not purchase their tooling or, reportedly, their materials [6]
    • The auction began Friday, March 12 at 11am
1954 newspaper ad for the Regal factory auction
Image Credit:

The Harmony Years (1954-)

Article in "The School Musician" Vol. 25 1954
Image Credit:

The Harmony Musical Instrument Company purchased the rights to Regal's trademarks and began using the Regal name on instruments sold exclusively through Fender. 

Regal-branded guitars covered the entire spectrum of the Harmony lineup from the cheap birch parlors to the esteemed Sovereign line. Not much needs to be said about the low end Regals as they are pretty much identical to the Harmony models. The high end Regal instruments are delightful though. They have stylistic differences like the headstock, truss rod, pickguard, and bridge shapes and they used ebonized wood instead of rosewood to save on cost. But they are constructed identically to their Harmony counterparts and make great instruments.

Harmony used a different model number system for the Regal instruments but the date codes are identical to Harmony

Image of 1966 Regal catalog removed after threat of legal action by, 
claiming to be the owner of the copyright for this Regal guitar catalog


[7] "Regal Musical Instruments: 1895-1955" (2011) by Bob Carlin

No comments: