Small pre-war American Firms click for more
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.
A.H. Balliet Co
Well the advert says pretty much all I know about them. I believe the firm was founded in Allentown, Pennsylvania in 1924 and in 1926 they produced 4 ranges of Ukulele. I have never,to my knowledge, seen one and how long the production went on for I don't know, (I know they were certainly in business until recently and that in the late 30's they patented a new kind of Cigar Box?). If the picture in the advert is anything to go by I could see them easily being mistaken for Harmony Ukuleles of the period
American Plating & Manufacturing Co.
At the end of 1927 the American Plate Enamel Co. of Chicago decided to revamp its image with a name change to the American Plating & Manufacturing Co. and to show off its new manufacturing potential and join in on the musical instrument bonanza in Chicago it launched "the "American" metal Banjo Ukulele, which is made with a seven-inch heavy brass shell, brass rings and patented pegs. It is finished in white enamel as well as mahogany with all trimmings gold-plated". In the 1927 advertisement for this banjolele they also say it is an "Eagle Brand" so I am not sure what if anything it actually said on the headstock? It appears that the Banjolele was no longer being produced in 1930 as it did not feature in the 1930 catalogue, although the company was still in business for plating and instrument repair.
The current American Plating & Manufacturing Co of Chicago was founded in 1971 so is a different company
Rivola Mfg. Corp.
As the advert says from New York, and formerly A. Massello & Sons. In 1922 Angelo Mannello died and the firm, which had already changed its name to Rivola, was taken over by his son Martin who in 1923 announced with a large advertising campaign that Rivola were going to give up making other stringed instruments, and concentrate solely on the manufacture of Ukuleles of which they were going to make 5000 a month, he had even invested in new machinery for this. In September 1923 there was a fire at the factory and most of the completed stock was apparently destroyed. Shortly after there was a change of policy and they went back to making all kinds of stringed instruments? What they actually made and survives I am not sure I have read the prior to 1923 they had both Ukuleles and Banjoleles as part of the catalogue, (and I also read they won an award for their Mandolins?) but I don't recall ever actually seeing any Rivola branded instruments just a Banjo Mandolin neck ?
If anyone does know more or has a picture of any of these please let me know.
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