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

Waldo Mfg Co - Saginaw, Michigan

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


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


  • 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



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


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



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