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View Full Version : Hawaii 1897 - is this man holding a uke?



creebobby
08-22-2015, 08:49 PM
I recently got this photo from ebay. The seller listed an entire archive of Hawaii photos from circa 1897. I bought this photo of missionaries - one of them holds a mandolin. But doesn't it seem like the grumpy guy sitting next to him might possibly be holding an early . . . .

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. . . Ukulele?

What do you all think?

Luke El U
08-22-2015, 08:59 PM
It's very difficult to see, but if I had to bet on it, I'd say its a uke (machete?).

VegasGeorge
08-23-2015, 02:17 AM
What gets me is the laundry hanging on the line in the background. They got all duded up like that, and posed for a picture with the wash? Sheesh!

stevepetergal
08-23-2015, 05:08 AM
Look out! It's a GUN!!!

WCBarnes
08-23-2015, 05:17 AM
What gets me is the laundry hanging on the line in the background. They got all duded up like that, and posed for a picture with the wash? Sheesh!

I wouldn't be surprised if that was their everyday clothes and they weren't dressed up at all. My mom has a picture of my grandfather in the late 1930's - early 1940's and he was working with several other men putting a pier in the lake. All of them were in shirts, ties, and had their suit pants rolled up so they wouldn't get wet. Completely different take on clothes than we have today.

VegasGeorge
08-23-2015, 06:17 AM
You could be right about the clothes. But I'm thinking this might be a performance group. I didn't notice the Tamborine the first time I looked. And, the fellow sitting next to the 8 string player has a blow stock in his mouth, apparently for some sort of bagpipe or mouth blown melodeon type instrument.

river_driver
08-23-2015, 12:10 PM
If you can find the photograph taken by the guy behind the mandolin player, we might be able to tell in the reverse angle!

VegasGeorge
08-23-2015, 02:47 PM
This really has me curious! That's clearly a turned wood blow stock in the guy's mouth, but I can't make out any details of the rest of the instrument. It looks like he's wearing some kind of cape that's covering part of it. I don't see any drones or chanter, so it's hard to call it a bagpipe. It looks as if it could be a Keyed Aeolian type instrument. There were a lot of weird wind instruments invented in the 19th Century. Can anyone make a better guess?

creebobby
08-23-2015, 03:15 PM
I thought he had a cigarette or small cigarillo in his mouth?

I don't see any cymbals in the tambourine. Some kind of hand drum?
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In any case the photo isn't clear enough to show if grumpy man holds a uke or not. Sad because pre 1900 uke pics are extremely scarce. This archive contained hundreds of photos and a few with guitars, but not one (other than maybe this one) has a uke in it.

creebobby
08-23-2015, 03:21 PM
This other photo from the archive is interesting.
The man is playing a guitar, and the photo was dated 1889.

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The moustache wings on the guitar bridge look Portugese/Madieran to me (based on the pics of 1800s machetes that I've collected.)
Perhaps this guitar was built by Santo, Nunes or Dias?

VegasGeorge
08-23-2015, 05:13 PM
I thought he had a cigarette or small cigarillo in his mouth?

I don't think so for three reasons. I doubt that a missionary back then would be smoking, especially not in public and in a photograph. It looks like the cape he's wearing covers whatever he has hanging out of his mouth, and that wouldn't be natural for someone with a cigar. And, most interestingly, if you look carefully, you can see evidence of typical decorative banding from the lathe work in making the blow stock. I'm still searching for a picture of an instrument, other than a Keyed Aeolian, that would fit the picture. It's possible that he has a double reed clamped between his lips, but it looks more like the mouthpiece of a blow stock to me.

bonesigh
08-23-2015, 06:34 PM
There's several other things being held. Something in the hand of the guy next to the cameraman and the guy in the middle with the hat, the drum thing (frizbee? LOL) and what is he putting his foot up on? I could swear I see something on the top of mandolin guy's head. Very curious indeed (:

kkimura
08-24-2015, 03:45 AM
Looks like a conch shell to me.

Beau Hannam Ukuleles
08-24-2015, 03:48 AM
It looks like a cat

bonesigh
08-24-2015, 07:43 AM
You've ALL got better eyes than me!

BillM
08-24-2015, 07:50 AM
Is it an early Moore Bettah soprano? ;)

Bill

Debby
08-24-2015, 08:17 AM
I don't think so for three reasons. I doubt that a missionary back then would be smoking, especially not in public and in a photograph. It looks like the cape he's wearing covers whatever he has hanging out of his mouth, and that wouldn't be natural for someone with a cigar. And, most interestingly, if you look carefully, you can see evidence of typical decorative banding from the lathe work in making the blow stock. I'm still searching for a picture of an instrument, other than a Keyed Aeolian, that would fit the picture. It's possible that he has a double reed clamped between his lips, but it looks more like the mouthpiece of a blow stock to me.

I thought it looked like a cigarette, too. Back then, they didn't know how harmful smoking was, and I bet it wasn't unusual for missionaries to smoke....or even doctors.