WEYMANN Serial Numbers and Dating

WEYMANN SERIAL NUMBERS
Weymann Guitars Serial Numbers on top of the Headstock

Introduction

(Updated 1 Feb 2019:  With the addition of new information the serial number dating for Weymann instruments has now been revised.  See the new dating table below:

(Update 10 May 2019: I came across this photo of a mandolin that was on a website by Tommy’s Guitars in Chicago:

Photo courtesy Tommy’s Guitars, Chicago

I contacted Tommy’s Guitars and they tried to find the original photo but the sale was some time ago and they could not find a better quality photo.  But they do know that the documentation was dated 1899. 

If I could find the now owner of this mandolin it could answer some questions about when H.A. Weymann and Son started serializing instruments, which at present those early years are a bit of a mystery.  So if you bought this mandolin from Tommy’s Guitars, or now own this mandolin, or know who does, please contact me charles@koolaru.com . Many thanks, Charles.) end of update.

 

While there is evidence that H.A. Weymann & Son, Philadelphia, were making stringed instruments from 1894 or earlier for their retail outlet, it looks likely that they did not increase production for wholesale purposes until the late 1890’s. The catalyst for this was possibly the buying of production equipment and spare parts from the discontinued S.S. Stewart enterprise in 1898, also of Philadelphia.

Their very early banjos and guitars carried a gold decal, but no serial or style (model) number.  Still later they carried a serial number but no style number. I believe around 1900 they finally added a style number as well.

One conjecture is that Weymann started serializing their instruments after Martin started doing the same in 1898.  This makes a lot of sense to me as I believe the gold decals (labels) they used, were made by the first company to manufacture decals in the US, The Meyercord Company, which was established in 1894 and registered in 1996.

So, I believe wholesale production of Weymann instruments started just prior to 1900.

Dating Weymann instruments has been hampered by two major problems. Firstly, even though there must have been records kept of production numbers and serial numbers, these do not remain. Secondly, the earliest Weymann catalogue that I have been able to find is c.1924.

Consequently, the table dating Weymann instruments is a work in progress.  As John Croft, the Ukulele Man* puts it “investigating such matters is a constant process of trying hard to sort out the evidence, and use new information to either re-affirm, modify, or dramatically change one’s point of view. I’ve had to do all three of these things on many occasions after obtaining fresh verifiable information. I found that lots of information that I thought was true  . . . . . was in fact complete garbage and have subsequently changed my point of view completely. That’s what makes it all so fascinating”.
* http://www.theukuleleman.com/

With this in mind I “endeavor to persevere” (from ‘The Outlaw Josey Wales’ movie).

__________________________________________

A Serial Number Dating Table

(Revised 1 Feb 2019)

As mentioned elsewhere on this site, there is now little doubt that all the Weymann guitars, banjos, mandolins, mandolutes, ukuleles etc. are in the same serial number sequence.

Joe Bethancourt, banjo player, listed dating for Weymann banjo serial numbers. That original website was taken down after Joe’s death in 2014, but I found his serial number dating list again at:

https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/alt.banjo/hShddkEyWfA

Joe’s table, starting at 1924, is reproduced at the end of this post, but I do believe his dating is inaccurate, which I explain after his table (in light grey).

My dating from serial numbers for all stringed instruments manufactured by H.A. Weymann and Son, up to 1923, is as follows, within a margin of plus or minus a year:

Year……….Starting Serial #…….Estimated Yearly Production & Reference
1905……….5300 ………………….……..700
1906……….6000…………………..……..800  Kauffman Guitar (Reference A)
1907……….6800………………………….900
1908……….7700………………………….900
1909……….8600………………….…..…1000
1910……….9600………………….…..…1100
1911………10700………………….………1300 (Mandolute production started)
1912………12000………………….….….1500  David Fridy (Reference E)  
1913………13500…………..………….….1600  R.M.’s patent pending Mandolute (Reference B)
1914………15100…………..…………..….1700
1915………16800……………………….…1800
1916………18600……………………….…1800
1917………20400…………………………1800
1918………22200………….……………..2000 Jakes Mandolin with Sales docket (Reference C)
1919………24200………………….…….2100
1920………26300………………….…….2200
1921………28500……………………..….2300 David Fridy (Reference F)
1922………30800…………………………2500 David Fridy (Reference G)
1923………33300…………………………1700  R.M. (Reference D)

The above table fits all the information of key instruments mentioned below, and the yearly production numbers slowly increase with the introduction of the mandolute around 1910-11 and then their ukulele production commencing in a bigger way about 1920.

Below is Joe Bethancourt’s dating which he commenced from 1924.  I feel this is not accurate because Weymann reported a bumper year for ukulele sales in 1924, where in one day they sold 720 ukes (see newspaper clipping below, Reference H).  Of course, this probably refers to the retail sales as well as their wholesale sales, and this number of 720 most likely included sales of other ukulele labels that they carried in their shop, including Martin ukuleles.

1923………33300…………………………1700
1924………35000………………….…….2000
1925………37000………………….…….2000   
1926………39000………………….…….2000 
1927………41000………………….…….2000 
1928………43000………………….…….2000  
1929………45000………………….…….2000 
1930………45500………………….…….500      (H.W. Weymann’s death)
1931………46000………………….…….500   
1932………46800………………….…….800  
1933………47600………………….…….     

I think with the continued success of the mandolute, and with ukulele sales at their peak, the production numbers would have increased for a few more years, before dropping off sharply towards 1930, with the start of the Great Depression in 1929 and then the death of the main force behind the company, H.W. Weymann.

At this time a decision was made to outsource much of their manufacturing to Harmony and possibly other suppliers. Their own wholesale manufacturing ceasing soon after as indicated by the sale of their manufacturing stock and equipment in this advertisement placed in The Baltimore Sun in Dec 1933:

Weymann Equipment Sale – The Baltimore Sun 06 Dec 1933 p.25.  Note: Up for auction are instrument parts such as: “quality banjo, mandolin, violin, guitar and drum parts”.

I have started a ‘REGISTER your Weymann Instrument’ page. I am hopeful with your help, that I can make this dating table, especially from 1923 onwards, more accurate as information comes in on various instruments.  Please take the time to fill the form in on this page if you own a Weymann stringed instrument: REGISTER YOUR WEYMANN INSTRUMENT

_______________________________________

Appendices/References

My decisions for the table above up to 1923 are based on:

A. A guitar with the retailer O. F. Kauffman label on the front of the headstock, serial 6044.  Also on the label in small print is written patent June 6, 1905 (the patent referring to the label design). It turns out that Olivier Kauffman was one of the 36 unfortunate people killed in the Mystic Shriners’ train wreck in California in May 1907.  There was an obituary in the Music Trade Review at that time and numerous mentions of his retail establishment before that.  I could find no references to his store after that date – anywhere.  To me that suggests the store closed after his death. Probable manufacture date 1905-1907.

B. A Mandolute owned by a friend serial 14559 with a patent pending label. The patent was applied for in July 27, 1912 and patented March 4, 1913. Probable manufacture date 1912 or 1913.

C. A Mandolute that passed through Jake Wildwoods hands (see Links) with serial 22614 with a purchase docket dated May 1918*. Probable manufacture date of 1917 or 1918.

Originally we thought that the date on this docket was 5-19-15 (19 May 1915) but subsequently it was pointed out to me by Tom Walsh, co-author of the book: “The Martin Ukulele: The Little Instrument That Helped Create a Guitar Giant,” that the year is more likely 1918. The ‘5’ on the year date looks nothing like the other ‘5’. (see photo below) This came about when we were trying to date the ukulele in this post AN EARLY 1917 WEYMANN UKULELE.

Mandolute Sales Docket from Jake Wildwood
Mandolute Sales Docket from Jake Wildwood

D. A sighted instrument serial 34037 reportedly purchased 1924. Probable manufacture date of 1923 or 1924.

Research undertaken by David Fridy who located these instruments:

E.  #12532 – approx. 1912 based on mandolute patent date.
F.  #28390 – Jan 5, 1921, hard bill of sale
G.  #30128 – approx. 1922 based on lowest Megaphonic rim.

H. Musical Merchandise magazine article, Aug 16, 1924:
___________________________________

If anyone thinks they can offer any information about any Weymann stringed instrument or any general information that will help to improve this dating table please contact me at: charles@koolaru.com

Also, I urge you again to please register any Weymann Stringed instruments you have to further help with improving production and general information about this important maker:   REGISTER YOUR WEYMANN INSTRUMENT.

Thank you and Namaste,

Charles Robinson

38 thoughts on “WEYMANN Serial Numbers and Dating

  1. My weymann banjo has a number inside 8571 the neck is carved four string invalided top of neck steel rimmed around body. i would like to know how old it is value and any info

    1. Hi Barbara, You can see from the list above that your banjo is going to date from 1907 + or – a year. That is quite an early banjo.

      I’m sorry I know very little about valuations of banjos but can suggest you search online for ‘banjo appraisals’. There would be a small fee from most appraisers and you would probably need to send photos. One very reputable company is Elderly Instruments, http://www.elderly.com/appraisal.html/ and I see on their website they charge $50.

      Best of luck…………..Charles

    1. Hi Tom, nice to hear from you again. I suspect Weymanns started serializing close to 1900 going on the serial numbers progression. This would date that guitar to about 1902-3 from my guesstimate. I’ve seen pics of that guitar and that gold label was used up until about 1910. This early on they were never stamped with a model number, either they never had one or just didn’t stamp the guitar with it.

  2. I recently acquired a Weymann 5 string banjo. The serial number inside the neck is #207. And idea on dating this banjo?

    1. Hi Cody, Are there no other numbers on the banjo, on top of the headstock for instance? #207 could be a style number but I just did a google search and that is not a Weymann banjo Style number that comes up. Also it is highly unlikely the banjo would have a style number without a serial number. Out of curiosity is the 207 written in pencil or stamped into the wood? If 207 is a serial number it would date to around 1900. If you send me some photos to my email address charles@honucreative.com (also on my Links and Contact page) I maybe able to give you some idea if that date makes sense with the design and tuners etc. Hope to hear from you.

  3. Hi Charles–
    I just came across your fascinating site. I have a Weyman Keystone State guitar that I bought in 1965 or so from a store called the Guitar Workshop in Philadelphia, long since gone. They told me it was once owned by Buffy Ste. Marie, but that could’ve been hyperbole. Its serial number carved at the top is 11321. (From your chart that would date it to 1910 or so–I thought it was made in the 20s, but don’t have any info on it.) It’s a truly lovely instrument with 4 small elongated diamond-shaped ivory inlays on the 5th, 7th, 9th, and 12th frets, rosewood back and sides, 2 piece back, and lovely inlaid patterned wood and ivory around the edges. I’ve never seen another one like it. I’ve always wondered what it would be worth, though I have no wish to sell it. It sounds sharp and loud and resonant and has been a fine companion all these many years. If you’d like a photo of it, I could send you one. Best–
    Judy Freeman
    Highland Park, New Jersey

    1. Hi Judy, Sounds like a great Weymann Guitar! I’d love some photos, please send to charles@honucreative. Many thanks, Charles.

  4. I have a Weymann baby grand piano. Can’t find any information on it. Could you help?

    1. Hi Brittany, I’ll get back to you shortly after I check some of the information I have. Many thanks, Charles

  5. Hello do you know if the label on the back of the head that says Weymann Philadelphia was used in the earlier years or was the one that said keystone state used in the earlier years . Sorry I’m an amateur at this . The banjolin is for sale online . I can’t see the serial number but it’s being advertised as a 1914. Was just curious if this sounds about right . Thanks

    1. Hi Ron, The gold labels were used as early as the late 1890s and there are variations of the wording of those labels. Some with Keystone State, some with W & S, some with Weymann, so the short answer is yes the wording on the banjolin could be varied. If you have a photo of the label, or can link me to to where the instrument is for sale I could probably help with the dating a bit more. The shape of the Gold decal label changed around 1910. My email address charles@honucreative.com Charles

  6. New to this site. I was gifted with a Weymann Mandolute a few days ago as a birthday present. Stamped 24000 50 on the top of the headstock. According to your table, this would put it around 1916-1917. I think Mandy needs some setup work, but generally this is in good shape for an centenarian, and features an inlay of Saturn on the third fret

    1. Hi Ken, yes that dating chart also applies to Mandolutes. They were an innovation by Weymann about 1910, they were very popular in their day and are still well regarded by many. Like all of the Weymann products they are well made.

  7. I have inherited a Weymann f hole acoustic guitar with the serial number 8479. It looks like it has been repaired on the neck. Do you have any idea of its worth?

    1. Hi Linda,

      Thank you for the photos.

      After the early 1930’s Weymann stopped manufacturing and instead commissioned other companies to make guitars for them. Their main, if not only supplier, was Harmony. This guitar is made by Harmony in the late 1930’s or 1940’s I think, but I am not a Harmony expert. If you google ‘HARMONY VINTAGE f HOLE GUITARS’ images you will see very similar guitars.

      From what I have seen of the guitars made by Harmony for Weymann the quality seems to be a step up from Harmony’s usual production. You are correct in that the stamp inside the guitar is the serial number, but it would be Harmony’s serial number, not Weymann’s. The part that I cannot read is possibly Harmony’s model number which would probably start with an ‘H’.

      I have seen a similar Harmony guitar that is now on ebay selling for $195, looks to be in similar condition. I hope this helps. I plan to do a post on some of the guitars made by HARMONY for Weymann, just have to find the time! Thanks again. Charles

  8. I have an archtop tenor guitar. It has WEYMANN on the headstock and 20 above the nut. It has a banjo headstock with grover banjo tuners. No stamp on top of headstock or sticker on the back of headstock. I took a mirror inside it and no dates in there. Anyway to possibly date it?

    1. Hi Steve. It is most likely a guitar manufactured for Weymann and Son by Harmony (or possibly Kay) that dates from c.1931 to the mid 1940’s. If you could send some photos to charles@honucreative I may be able to confirm that and tell you more. Regards, Charles

  9. Thanks for the great information & blog, Charles. I came for the Weymann info, but received much more. Love the cartoons, humor and insights.

    I live an hour out of Philadelphia, so I guess I’m in Weymann country. I recently acquired this gem;

    https://www.banjohangout.org/myhangout/photos.asp?id=92919

    From your serial number list, it dates to 1919. There’s a stamp from a Mandolin Club from the early 1920s, and a wonderful cartoon on the head. Anything else you can share? Or should (can?) I email you separately?

    Am very excited to have stumbled upon this wonderful Weymann which I initially thought was going to be a wall-hanger but am starting to think it might be worth getting restored to playable condition (!)
    I would very much appreciate help understanding what it is I have here and what the potential may be (I am a five string Scruggs player but have always wanted to get a tenor, especially for Irish tunes). Bought from a private party an hour outside of Philly. He got it from a great uncle.
    I’ve attached a bunch of pictures, and here are the specs:

    No. of frets: 17
    Length: 30″
    Pot width: 11″
    Hooks: 20
    U.S. Patent 1.215.598 (on bar)
    No resonator (missing?)

    Back of headstock reads:
    “Weymann Keystone State
    Manufd by Weymann & Son USA”

    Imprint on wood post:
    27937
    No 40

    Stamp on inside of the head:
    “Jos Rogers, Jr.
    1st Quality _____ Warranted”

    2nd stamp inside head:
    “1921-22-23
    Mandolin G.F.S. Club”

    Stamp on bridge:
    “Grover Nontip”

    Cartoon signature (?):
    “GoodeAA, Jr.”

    Thanks much

    New Weymann Fan

    1. Hi Sean, I’m always excited to see one of these old instruments, and also from the wear and decoration knowing that it was well loved, and will be again!

      Yes please email me separately if you like at charles@honucreative.com I always love to talk old vintage instruments with the like minded 🙂

      Thanks for commmenting and sharing, I will send you personally a page from an old catalog showing your banjo if I have it. Charles.

  10. Hi – I have acquired a Weymann Orchestral #3. It is very good condition apart from a bracket that holds the brass ring to the resinator. This has been fixed.
    Can you tell me if this part was always brass or was it silver plated when new.

    1. Hi Kim, I’m not a banjo guy. Maybe contact one of the banjo groups online. I would expect however if it was originally plated it would have been nickel plated. Regards, Charles

  11. Hey; I have a Weymann 5 string banjo which I had no idea the vintage of.
    It has gold label that says;
    “Keystone State High Grade
    Manuf’d by Weymann & Sons
    Makers Of The Highest Grade”
    At the bottom is a keystone logo with a “W&S” inside a lyre.
    However there is no visible serial number on the top since it’s arched.
    There are no inlays on the fret-board. It would appear that someone has replaced the tuning pegs since the main four are plastic while the fifth string peg is mother-of-pearl.
    If need be I could take some pics.
    thanks

    1. Hi, I received your photos. Thank you. To answer your questions. That gold decal on the back of the headstock stopped being used about 1910. It is not definitive, but it appears that it was about 1900 before Weymann started using serial numbers. So I would date that Mandolin to around 1900 because of that. Certainly before 1910.
      Regards the resonators, I know in later years it was usual when the instrument was purchased you had an option of buying with or without the resonator. Also you could buy the resonator separately off their catalog after purchase. I see no reason that was not also so case earlier on.
      I hope this helps. all the best, Charles

  12. I have a H.A. Weymann mandolin hat has a plate on the bottom witch says: Patened may 1934. I dont see a serial #anywhere. it has a case and is in good condition. It has 8 strings. I was wondering what it is worth.

    1. Hi Dave, Strange that the mandolin does not have a serial number. Patented May 1934? That doesn’t sound right, that is after Weymann closed down their manufacturing. Could you please send me some photos to charles@koolaru.com ? Regards Charles

  13. I registered my mandolute #20339 model 15 yesterday do you have a sense of the date ranges for the different decals? this instrument came to me without fingerboard i put an ebony board with large frets on, modern scale (necessitating moving the bridge back commensurately). sweeter tone than my gibson A’s, little or no lower end growl

    1. Hi Bob, Thanks for registering your mandolute. I hope to do a post soon that gives the date ranges of the decals used by H.A. Weymann and Son. If you register in the box on the home page you will receive notifications of any new posts. Won’t all be Weymann posts, but I guarantee your email address will not be used for any other purpose when you register.

  14. I have a Weymann Model 15 arch top f- hole guitar. I am assuming this is a Harmony (or other manufacturer) produced model. I searched the internet for any pictures or info on a Weymann Model 15. I heard they called this the Model 15 as it sold for $15 new (not sure if that is true or not.) I am guessing this a mid to late 1930’s build. Do you have any info you can share?

    Thanks,

    1. Hi Ed, Yes it is most likely made by Harmony or Kay after 1933. I plan to do a post on these Weymann guitars made after the manufacturing arm of Weymann ceased production. I may be able to use photos of your guitar if you like. Send some photos to charles@koolaru.com and I’ll check them out. First I’ve heard of the story that the model number was named after the cost! who knows? Regards Charles

  15. Charles, thank you for this resource on Weymann instruments. I discovered your site while doing some research on my Weymann 225 ukulele-banjo number 37248. I just registered it on your serial number page. I purchased it from Alan Harris, a George Formby style player, instrument restorer, dealer, etc. in the UK. It has some fancy inlay on the headstock, which is quite uncommon for the ukes. I have only seen one other one with this, and that one was even fancier than mine. I have been told that was a custom feature, and I have never seen any example of this in any of the Weymann catalogs I have seen. Several detailed pictures of my Weymann can be seen at andyeastwood.com/Weymann-ukulele-banjo-rhj.htm, if you are interested. Your date list shows the serial number as a 1925 instrument. Do you feel that is still a valid date for #37248? I have several vintage guitars and ukuleles, and this is the last one that I don’t have a good idea of the manufacturing date.

    Thanks again for the informative and uplifting site, with the wonderful life lessons that I am just beginning to read.

    Dick Schneiders

    1. Charles, the instrument on Andy Eastwood’s site that I pointed you to is *not* my banjo ukulele. It is very similar, even down to the peg head inlay, but the wrong one! Mine is at andyeastwood.com/Weymann-longscale-ukulele-banjo-ah.htm.

      Sorry about that. I bought it from Alan Harris about 5 years ago, and am surprised that it is still shown on Andy’s site. Mine does say “sold” on the ad.

      Dick Schneiders

    2. Thanks for you comments and kind words Dick, nice to know there’s people out there who read what I write! Yes I do think that 1925 is a valid date for your serial number plus or minus a year. All the best, Charles

    1. Thanks Robert, I’ll send you a private email to see if you have some more information that I can add to the Weymann Instruments Registry. Regards Charles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *