When his father died in 1892 the young 26 year old Harry (H. W. Weymann) energetically expanded the business.
In 1899 the S.S. Stewart Banjo factory in Philadelphia closed following the death of the company’s founder the previous year. There is conjecture Harry Weymann took advantage and purchased some of the materials and equipment from this factory and hired retrenched Stewart workers to greatly expand his manufacturing.
This makes sense because this is the time that H. A. Weymann and Son, the company, started getting press in the Music Trade Review, and local newspapers such as the Philadelphia Inquirer, as a significant music instrument wholesaler. Banjos then became a big part of their manufacturing. I’ve been told that early Weymann banjos from the late 1890’s and early 1900’s have traits of S.S. Stewart instruments; and some are obviously made with Stewart parts.
There are limited references to the Weymann company in the Music Trade Review (MTR) before 1900. But there are indications of their expansion:
H A Weymann and Son “of Philadelphia, who have heretofore been exclusively handling “small goods,” have added a piano department to their business. They have also consolidated their wholesale and retail interests in large and central quarters at 1022 Market street, to which they have just removed.” MTR 1899.
After 1900 there are numerous references to H.A. Weymann and Son in the Music Trade Review concerning how their manufacturing business is growing and detailing some of the lines they retail and wholesale.
“Another firm that will move the 1st of May is H. A. Weymann & Sons, manufacturers of the famous Keystone State banjos, mandolins and guitars. It will be located at 935 Market Street, in the block below their present store.” MTR 1903.
The Weymann Company was very innovative and 1900 to 1910 was a decade of growth for the company, both in the retail and wholesale business. Their main stringed instrument being the banjo, but they also had significant sales with mandolins and guitars.
Of particular interest is an article in May 1910 where Weymann and Son “displayed their very latest instrument called the Mandolute”. The Mandolute was a patented instrument by Weymann that was a big part of their sales after 1910.
From 1910 to 1927 Weymann’s applied for and were granted 7 different patents connected to stringed instruments. From new stringed instrument designs, to tuners and tailpiece designs. They were also one of the first makers of a 6 string Jumbo and extra Jumbo guitar in about 1910-11, twenty plus years before Gibson launched its Jumbo range and a few years before Martin’s dreadnoughts.
And while Martin is credited as being the first company to make the 14 fret guitar, there is some evidence that at least Weymann made them earlier or at least at the same time as Martin. (a further post on the Martin-Weymann connection is planned).
Weymann products were always well made with fine workmanship, and they were priced accordingly. The quality of their guitars were on a par with Martins’ and at the time equivalent instruments of both companies sold at similar prices. The majority of Weymann guitars were ladder braced, while Martins were X-braced. While obviously having a following it must have been hard for Weymann guitars to compete in the market with such a well established maker as C.F. Martin and Co. instruments. The small number of Weymann guitars seen today reflects this.
The most successful years for H.A. Weymann and Son was the 1920’s and early 1930’s. Their banjos from that period are highly regarded. Also during this period H.A. Weymann and Son produced one of the most famous guitars in history, the Jimmie Rodgers’ 1928 Weymann Guitar. (More about this guitar in a later post).
Like many manufacturers of the era, 1930 was the beginning of the end for H.A. Weymann and Son’s wholesale division. It was the start of the great depression, an while their retail shop carried on for some more decades the manufacturing division was soon shut down after 1930. Guitars were ‘jobbed’ out to companies such as Harmony and branded with a stenciled ‘WEYMANN” label. While these guitars are beautiful, and top of the production instruments coming from Harmony, for example, they are not the same as the original Weymann guitars. Harry W. Weymann died on 4th September 1939, it marked an end of an era for the Weymann company.
SOME FUTURE WEYMANN POSTS:
- Weymann Jumbos
- Weymann Decals
- The C.F. Martin – H.A. Weymann Connection
- Weymann Factory and Shop moves
- Weymann Catalogs
- Weymann Guitar Pictures