H. A. WEYMANN and SON – History Pt 2: The era of H.W. (Harry) Weymann

Harry W.Weymann

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.

Weymann c.1890 Retail Catalog Cover
Weymann c.1890 Retail Catalog Cover

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.

1902 Ad Philadelphia Inquirer Dec 21
1902 Ad Philadelphia Inquirer Dec 21

 

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.

 

Mandolute Advertisement from 1910 Brochure
Mandolute Advertisement from 1910 Brochure

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).

H. A. Weymann and Son factory c.1930 - 817-823 W Cumberland St Philadelphia. Sketch from 1930 Weymann letterhead.
H. A. Weymann and Son factory from 1924 – 817-823 W Cumberland St Philadelphia. Sketch from 1930 Weymann letterhead.

Like many manufacturers of the era, 1930 was the beginning of the end for H.A. Weymann and Son’s wholesale division.  As well as the great depression, that year saw the death of H.W. (Harry) Weymann. Their retail shop carried on for some more decades but 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.

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

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10 thoughts on “H. A. WEYMANN and SON – History Pt 2: The era of H.W. (Harry) Weymann

  1. My grandfather worked in the H.A. Weymann store in Philadelphia in approximately 1920 until his death in 1963. Mr. Weymann attended his funeral. I am doing a family history and would appreciate it if you had a picture of Mr. Weymann during any of those years. I have a small stool that was used in the store that people Sat on to record or listen to records. Any other information would also be appreciated. Thank you.
    Sincerely,
    Mary-Anne Delaney

  2. Hi Mary-Anne,
    I have been working on the history of the Weymann family and some time ago I received some information from a Weymann descendant, but no photos. However I do have a few photos from early newspapers. I have also been concentrating up to the early 1930’s. After this time while the family kept their store their manufacturing arm was either very small or non existent. I had also planned to post more information about the company and instruments before I move onto the family history.
    The drawing/sketch of H.W. Weymann in this post is from a line drawing I found in an old newspaper of the day, and one of my daughters put some time into making it more readable.
    But even though Harry W. Weymann was the head of the company up until his death in 1930, he was not the store manager. Without checking my files that was his younger brother, Albert Conrad Weymann. Do you have a deadline you are working to? I suspect your grandfather saw a few different store and company managers during his time. Do you know the name of the Weymann who attended his funeral? If you don’t know I can try and go through my files and see if I can work out who that would be. Maybe you’d like to contact me through my email address on the LINKS page and we can talk further about this. Best Regards Charles.

  3. I am a direct descendant of AC Weymann – he was my grand father. My oldest son and I have been doing some research on the Weymann music business. My mother, her singing name was Carol Weymann, sang on NBC radio in the late 30’s and early 40’s. As a very young guy, around 4-6 in about 1943-44 or so, I visited the Weymann Building at 1010 Chesnut street I believe.

    1. So nice to hear from you James! I have a lot of family history from another family descendant. I also have put together a family tree from when H.W. Weymann first came to the US. I will contact you directly and share with you. I have more Weymann posts to publish in the future as well, about the instruments and a little about the company.

  4. I recently received a Weyman banjo following the passing of a friend’s father, and was delighted to find your wonderful piece — I will be sure to share it with my friend and her family. Thank you so much for posting it.

  5. Hello,
    Weymann & Son enthusiasts.
    I recently purchased a Weymann Mandolute at an estate sale not really knowing much about it, I did a quick google on it before I bought it thinking it was a fairly nice piece even though its condition was not the best.
    After bringing it home and doing a little more research I have discovered by its serial number that it was probably made between 1909 & 1910 and could be one of the very first that was produced.
    How do I find out more about this instrument and its history?
    Greg

    1. Hi Greg, I hope to do a post on Weymann’s Mandolute in the future. In the meantime I’ll send you an email with some information I have. Regards Charles.

  6. I own a very interesting Weymann Banjo advertising pocket mirror that is from im assuming pre 1930 because the address on it is 1108 Chestnut Street.

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