Small pre-war American Firms click for more

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Jenkins Washngton Banjo Ukulele Banjolele Kansas City
Washington Banjolele

courtesy Ukulele Hall of Fame
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.

B. Horenstein & Sons

B. Horenstein & Sons was a New York Instrument importer and distributor established in 1919 in Connecticut and moving to New York in 1923. (I have seen it suggested they folded in the 1929 stock market crash) Like a lot of distributors of the time, they didn't make their own instruments but they had their own brands to put on ones made for them. Their main brand for Ukuleles and Banjoleles was Luxor, this was used on other Banjos too. The actual makers of the instruments were probably J R Stewart. and Globe Musical Instrument Co, probably Stromberg-Voisinet (later Kay) as well. The brand name they used for Guitars and Mandolins was San Jose, and they also had a brand of Ukulele strings called Oh Kay but I don't know if either of these names were ever used on Ukuleles?
I have also seen the mystery Baritone of the 50's and 60's and some Banjos with a different Luxor logo with no mention of Horenstein. I don't think they are anything to do with this Horenstein but if anyone has firm information either way can they let me know please?

John A Bolander

He is almost certainly the inventor of the Banjolele, well his is the earliest patent, in 1916 anyway. He lived in either Berkeley or San Francisco at the time and was running a business called "the Fiddle Hospital". It is know he produced a number of instrument including Violins and the aforementioned patented Banjo Ukulele. He may also have started a proper manufacturing enterprise for a while and produced instruments for others to brand. The big hole in the headstock is mentioned in the patent but no one knows what it is for? The best guess is it is used to attach a strap to make the Banjolele easier to hold, (though there is nothing on the drum to attach the other end of the strap), but it could just be to make the thing easy to hang up? Or to lighten the headstock end for better balance? Whatever the reason, it was copied by a lot of the other early California Banjoleles and SoCal certainly used it for a strap

J. W. Jenkins Music Co.

A music shop and distributor from Kansas City. Their house brand was Washington and all of the Banjoleles from them I have seen were made by Slingerland

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