When I first bought a H. A. Weymann & Son guitar, there was very little known about the maker. One of the reasons for my site is to bring to light and preserve as much as I can about the Weymann Company.
I’m having a Weymann post blitz at the moment to get as much up about the company and clear out some of my files on the computer. So, for the Weymann geeks and history nuts out there this post features a magazine article about H. A. Weymann & Son published in 1929. It tells a lot about the company in 1929, when the Great Depression and the death of the principal driving force behind the company were both looming. I’m preserving the article here for posterity!
Written in April 1929, in the Musical Merchandise magazine, the entire article reads:
“KEYSTONE STATE” Trade Mark in Trade Since 1884 –
H. A. Weymann & Son, Inc., Operate Big Factory for Making Musical Instruments – By John C. Hall
“When the business of H. A. Weymann & Son, Inc., Philadelphia, was founded in 1864 it occupied meagre quarters on North Second Street, had only three persons on the payroll, and did an annual business whose total barely reached $30,000. The business began to grow almost from its inception and the expansion continued until the present when the firm occupies a commanding position in the industry. Its business has been grown from a scant $30,000 a year to the sales which aggregate well over a million dollars, it occupies a five-story building on Chestnut Street, employs 100 people and is known from coast to coast.
It was in March 1864, that H. A. Weymann opened a small store at 156 North Second Street, for the sale of musical instruments. The firm at that time did not manufacture and imported only in a small way. Its territory was the vicinity of Philadelphia in which it secured some customers who are still patrons today. In those days, H. W. Weymann, son of the founder of the business and its present head, attended the city schools. Each afternoon after school had closed, H. W. Weymann would take three sample accordions in each hand, take the horse car down to South Street, and solicit orders. The next day he would pack them up, hire a horse and wagon, and make deliveries.
In 1884 H. W. Weymann completed his schooling and was taken into the firm which then became H. A. Weymann & Son. Mr. Weymann went out on the road and took orders. On alternate days he and his father would pack up the merchandise in the cellar, pull it up to the street level by a rope and pulley, and then ship it out to the people to whom it had been sold. Shortly after 1884 the firm started the manufacture of the Keystone State line of banjos, mandolins and guitars. In 1890 the main store was moved to 43-45 North Ninth Street, and the factory store on Second Street continued as a branch.
About this time H. A. Weymann died and his son succeeded to the head of the business. Two brothers, William A. Weymann, now deceased, and Albert C. Weymann, at present secretary and treasurer of the business, were taken into the firm, which, in 1904, was incorporated under the laws of Pennsylvania. A program of expansion was decided upon and the firm moved in the year of its incorporation to 1022 Market Street. Subsequently the business was moved over to Chestnut Street where it is located today.
As at present constituted the firm is headed by H. W. Weymann, who has the title of president and general manager of the wholesale business. Charles Bahls is sales manager. Albert C. Weymann, the secretary and treasurer, is also the general manager of retail sales. H. Power Weymann, a son of H. W. Weymann, is vice-president of the company and the manager of the wholesale musical instruments department. Another son of the head of the firm, Herbert W. Weymann, is assistant secretary and treasurer and the company’s publicity man. The firm is distributor for Victor products, Buescher band instruments and saxophones, Hohner goods, and Barry drummers’ outfits in Pennsylvania, Southern New Jersey and Delaware. It also manufacturers and distributes nationally the line of Weymann string instruments known under the name Keystone State. It has four salesmen on the road constantly selling the general line of merchandise it handles.
The building occupied by the firm at 1108 Chestnut Street is a five-story structure with basement, 24 feet wide and 229 feet long, extending back to Sansom Street and containing 33,000 square feet. The basement is used for the storage of Victrolas. In the rear of the basement is the shipping department. The first floor is occupied by the retail sales department for Victrolas, Victor records, and combinations of Victrolas with radio panels. Here there are twelve booths for demonstration purposes. In the rear of the first floor are the retail musical instrument and sheet music departments.
The second floor of this building is given over to the wholesale department and the individual offices of H. W. Weymann and Mr. Bahls. The third floor is occupied by the piano and retail player rolls departments. The general office and stock rooms are on the fourth floor and the wholesale musical instrument department on the fifth floor.
The Weymann factory occupies a daylight building containing 12,500 square feet on one floor at Handcock Street and Columbia Avenue. Its production comes under the supervision of H. Power Weymann.
The firm is a very constant user of various forms of advertising. It not only uses large spaces in the daily newspapers to reach the public and in the trade journals to reach the trade, but also issues a number of circulars and booklets and prepares newspaper advertisements for use by its dealers. Electros of advertisements are furnished free to Weymann dealers. The company also secures much advertising through the use of professional musicians of its instruments. Frequently it reproduces in its advertisements or places in its show windows, pictures of orchestras which use the Keystone State line of banjos, mandolins, and guitars, and the other musical instruments the company handles. It also makes effective use of recommendations given its merchandise by these orchestras, their leaders, and by individual musicians.”
— End of article –
This article is a snapshot in time of the Weymann company in 1929. Soon after this the company’s fortunes changed dramatically.
In 1930 the Depression began, then Harry W. Weymann, the head of the company since 1892, died. The stock market crashed (I don’t think Harry’s death caused that!), and musical instruments became a luxury that few could afford. Sales fell dramatically and it seemed the surviving family members, for whatever reason, failed to deal with the decline.
The manufacturing section of the company ceased in 1933, marking the end of the quality-made instruments the Weymann name is synonymous with today. The death of sales manager, Charles Bahls, followed in 1934. Though the wholesale and retail operation survived for a number of years, by then it was a slow death of this once innovative and leading company in the musical field.
Many thanks . . . . . . . Charles Robinson