US Small Importers/Manufacturers/Distributors post WWII click for more

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Petersen Polk-a-lay-lee Tenor Ukulele Corner
My poor
The war, and subsequent occupation in the Pacific meant a lot of US servicemen travelled to or from the conflict via Hawaii, and often picked up a Ukulele somewhere along the way. Given its portability and the remembered childhood popularity they also often learned to play them and when they came home after the war this led to the second wave of popularity for the Ukulele, (but not in Europe as they were less involved in the Pacific war). With the rise in popularity and the rise in far eastern manufacture this meant there was a business opportunity for a lot of small companies either making, or more often importing and distributing Ukuleles. Some of these companies didn't last long and often there is not a lot of information on them beyond names on the headstocks.


The Polk-a-lay-lee was made by the Petersen Co. of Ohio in the early 60's. It was given away as part of an advertising campaign for the Polk Bros. furniture and electrical goods company, so for all its "Surfer" pretensions it is just a copy of the Californian Swagerty Kooky Ukes particularly the Treholipee made a looong way from the beach. It has a plastic fretboard, tuners and saddle, and comes in different colours (both the Ukulele and the plastic work). On the box they came in they are called Wander-a-lay-lee(?) though the headstock says Polk-a-lay-lee so I have seen them called by this name too


In the early 1960's the Werco Drum Company of Chicago started production of an open backed Banjolele with a blue sparkly body and an aluminium neck. They only made the one model, it was called the Blue Sparkle so always blue and production of the Banjolele had stopped by 1970. There are a number of questions with this Banjolele that I don't know the answer to though. In 1950 the Grossman Music Co started selling an all metal Banjolele called the Dixie and this instrument was clearly made with the same patented neck and tailpiece. Production of the Dixie appears to have ended before Werco started making the Blue Sparkle but if there is a connection between Werco and Grossman I haven't found it yet
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