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Washburn: Over one hundred years of fine stringed instruments
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Unfortunately, the facts (as they often do) unearthed by Teagle completely contradicted the accepted view of the Washburn brand's reputation within the collectible guitar industry....
In addition, Teagle devotes the second half of the book to the instruments made by the 'new' Washburn company; a company that has no relationship to the makers of the original, pre-WWII, Washburns except through its fairly recent purchase of the rights to the brand name...
Although Teagle makes this clear in the book, the title suggests a continuation, at least in spirit and has probably made it easier for the Vintage Guitar industry, and particularly for those with a vested interest in (and a great deal of money tied up in) maintaining the fiction that Washburns were just mass-produced , flashy but flawed, imitations of Martins....when in fact the truth is almost completely the opposite...
Huub Pleijsier's 2008 book on identifying pre-war Washburn instruments builds on Teagle's foundation study and is also essential reading for anyone interested in the history and development of the 'American' steel-string flattop...and in the myths and misinformation supporting the reputation of Martin and other brands..
A *must have* if you are looking at early guitars (Pre-War especially)
More important is the information on Washburn instruments it provides; John Teagle has done his homework (and his research) well. The book is replete with informative old Washburn ads, beautiful full-color photographs of antique as well as modern Washburn guitars, mandolins, banjos and other instruments.
He also confirms my suspicion, which I voiced in another review, that Gorge Washburn's real name was George Washburn Lyon--hence the business name Lyon & Healy. It appears that there was even a George W. Lyon guitar at one point, probably around 1890. Lyon died in 1894, while Patrick J. Healy, the merchandiser of the two partners, lived on until 1905, but between the two of them they had built an instrument manufacturing empire. The Lyon & Healy harp is still the world's finest.
The book details many Lyon & Healy triumphs, awards and firsts--including the acknowledged first "Dreadnaught" guitar, decades ahead of the famed Martin D-1 and D-2s. Altogether a book full of information about America's first and leading guitar manufacturer, world-famous for high quality instruments long before Martin and Gibson made the cut.
I am particularly interested in this famous old line because I own a fine example of the George Washburn New Model of 1897-a parlor guitar with amazing tone and resonance, with Brazilian rosewood back and sides, spruce top, and ebony fingerboard, ivory nut and saddle on the ebony bridge, with mother-of-pearl position inlays on the fingerboard. Their plainest, smallest model. It probably retailed for $15, when new. I've turned down $500 for it.
This is the only book on Washburn I have ever seen. It was published in New York by the Music Sales Company in 1996, and is already out of print. The copy I received is mint, however, and it didn't take Amazon long to locate it for me. If you are interested in purchasing a copy, good luck!
Joseph H. Pierre
Author of The Road to Damascus: Our Journey Through Eternity