Small pre-war American Firms click for more

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Manhattan mainland made soprano ukulele
Manhattan Soprano
As the first wave of Ukulele popularity grew, so a number of new companies jumped on the bandwagon. Some were Manufacturers with a history of making other instruments, some were Distributors, (or Jobbers as they were called at the time) who decided there was profit in having their own brands to market. Often now though there is very little information on what they made or sold.


I have no real information on this brand beyond that is is a mainland maker. I have seen Guitars branded Abbm as well but no other instrument and all of the instruments I have seen have been made in the early 20's or even the teens My best guess is that it was a branding used by a maker who later dropped it, but I wouldn't like to say who? What is the case though is there are still a few of them about so it must have been a fairly big maker at the time. As ever more information if you have it please.


I don't have definitive information on this brand but I will put what I know here. Manhattan was a brand name used by Violin and Brass instrument maker/distributor J(ohn). F. Stratton of New York (He had some factories in Europe making the instrument apparently?) The problem comes as J.F died in 1910 and his son sold the business including the brand names to Bruno in 1914, (not sure what happened to the factories?) now pre 1914 is very early for mainland Ukuleles, (though I have read, but not seen, Stratton did sell Ukulele strings in his popular steel instrument strings line Birmingham - possibly these could have been Bruno keeping the brand name for strings alive?), and I have not come across Bruno using any of Stratton brand names on instruments? The example of a Manhattan Ukulele I have seen does not appear to come from any of the usual factories but does look later than 1914? I am open to more information.


I have very little about this make apart from the fact it is quite common. As can be seen from the pictures it is a bracketless Banjolele made by Harmony in the 1920's. I have only ever seen Banjoleles branded Neptune and always with the couple in a boat which is also called Neptune. I have seen the range of these bottom end Harmony Banjoleles of the period with the Neptune brand, (though sometimes only on the decal not on the headstock too?), with the ƒ hole resonator or open backed, what I don't know is who distributed them? My best guess would be that it was a Sears model rather than a separate distributor brand but as I don't know I will leave it separate until I can find more information, (anyone?)
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