A Regal by Any Other Name is Still a Royal Pain

Following up on the Regal harp guitar story of yesterday:

I’ve always held Wulschner/Regal responsible for their strange (even silly) c.1900 harp guitar experiment, but now I wonder if they actually copied it.

One of the first harp guitar finds of our Cadenza research project (something that holds much yet to blog about) was this incredible image, from the Jan/Feb, 1895 issue:

The Imperial mandolin, guitar and banjo orchestra of Kansas City, H.W. Adams, director

At first glance, I thought “Cool – a Regal and a Harwood harp guitar together!”  On second glance, I realized that nearly all the mandolins, guitars and harp guitars were actually Harwood instruments (easily identified by the last marker inlaid with a bone rectangle, stamped “Harwood”).   So the slimmed-down “Regal” was really a Harwood!

I also realized that this photo was early – much earlier than the 1898-introduced date I had as the previous oldest for Harwood harp guitars.  These instruments would have had to have been built by the end of 1894 (before the photo was taken for submission to The Cadenza, printed the next month), and likely earlier.  So now I’ve got to update the whole Harwood page again…

But back to our topic.  So the J. W. Jenkins Company (they owned and made the “Harwood” brand, and were also in Kansas City, where the orchestra above was formed) made a “slab neck attachment” harp guitar well before Wulschner it seems.  Coincidental?   I doubt it.  Perhaps one of those responsible for the Regal line saw this very image and eventually combined the large size of the jumbo 12-bass Harwood with the smaller 6-bass “slab neck” to create what they thought was the optimum harp guitar.  

Not a good idea.

Still – more wonderful harp guitar history that makes me want to get up each morning and go discover!

  1. Darrell Says:

    Payne in that photo?

  2. Gregg Says:

    Well, you’d probably know better than I. I don’t see anyone that looks like him, though other faces look familiar to the image here.
    Darrell is referring to Lester Payne who was a Harwood promoter by way of several mandolin and guitar clubs he started in Kansas City and elsewhere. He became a celebrity to harp guitar researchers after the discovery of his Seattle school that used several Knutsen harp guitars, with Chris (and wife Anna) himself in the group!
    See: Lester Payne’s Mandolin and Guitar Orchestra

  3. Darrell Says:

    I was thinking the guitarist in the top left corner..?

  4. Gregg Says:

    I’d say nope.

  5. Darrell Says:

    Well, the only other one that’s close is the mandolinist front and center.. But I think he may be a little young for Payne. Maybe not, tho…

  6. Darrell Says:

    Hey, what’s going on with the banjo in that photo? Extra strings?

  7. Gregg Says:

    Holy Headstock Extension, Batman! I think you’re right! I can see a theorbo-like extension and a long skinny post. Can’t see the strings, but they’re probably there. (Chris Bucklen, what did I tell you?…this is the 4th or 5th harp-banjo on the site now…)

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