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View Full Version : Help! Who Made this Incredible Antique Wurlitzer Ukulele w/ Abalone Inlay?



Christill1
06-21-2014, 03:45 PM
Amigos and amigas,
Hello, this is my first post. I stumbled into an antique soprano uke today. It is in fabulous condition, with original case. It has remarkable abalone inlay (well I think it's abalone, you tell me!) all over. It is truly gorgeous. The paper label on the inside says Wurlitzer. My understanding is that Martin made some of these old Wurlitzers. However, the head stock shape does not look like a Martin. Can anyone ID it more for me? As in, who made it and when? Here are five photos. Many many thanks, Chris in Ohio

Christill1
06-21-2014, 03:48 PM
Here's a picture of the lovely back side of the Wurlitzer uke. Thanks, Chris from Ohio

pondweed
06-21-2014, 09:10 PM
Martin made loads for them in 1922-1926, a customer line of slightly altered standard martin instruments. This clearly isn't one of them!? That kerfed lining looks different to Martin too.

Winin' Boy
06-21-2014, 10:08 PM
I think your uke was made somewhere in the early twenties by the Oscar Schmidt Co. of New Jersey for Wurlitzer.
While they mostly made inexpensive instruments, this was their top-of-the-line ukulele model.
So not a Martin unfortunately, but a very nice find nonetheless.
Love the case.
Congrats!

phil hague
06-21-2014, 11:49 PM
I am jealeous! Looks like it has never been played.

PhilUSAFRet
06-22-2014, 01:08 AM
Ditto on the jealous. This one is a "wowee" My interest in vintage ukes is minimal, except when it comes to something like this one. Did I say WOW! Love it.

Christill1
06-22-2014, 02:07 AM
Thanks for the help, folks. It truly is a looker and really looks like it ain't been played. When he hauled it out yesterday afternoon, I shook. Yeah... The guy I bought the uke from told me he'd sold the case alone to a lady, an antique dealer, a while back. I asked, you got her phone number? He said, sure, and got it out of the phone book. I called her up, from his driveway. She said, sure, I got the case, come and get it. Drove to her house about a mile away and bought that sweet case for $20 (she'd gotten it for $10, why she didn't buy the uke, I don't know and didn't ask). So, there is the Saga of the Missing Uke Case! What ID's it as an Oscar Schmidt? Thanks!

stevepetergal
06-22-2014, 04:00 AM
That's a beautiful ukulele! I've never seen one commissioned by an instrument company with such an unusual look. Surely, Martin wouldn't abandon their shape for a relatively small commission.
Congratulations. Great find.

phil hague
06-22-2014, 05:13 AM
Just noticed on the inner label it says. registered with the US patent Office. Is there any way of tracing it through them?

Pukulele Pete
06-22-2014, 05:31 AM
Wow , great uke , and with the case !

river_driver
06-22-2014, 06:56 AM
Lots of similarities to this unmarked one Jake Wildwood worked on, which he believed to be an OS-build:
http://antebelluminstruments.blogspot.com/2009/03/c1920-unmarked-koa-ukulele-part-one.html

hmgberg
06-22-2014, 08:57 AM
Thanks for the help, folks. It truly is a looker and really looks like it ain't been played. When he hauled it out yesterday afternoon, I shook. Yeah... The guy I bought the uke from told me he'd sold the case alone to a lady, an antique dealer, a while back. I asked, you got her phone number? He said, sure, and got it out of the phone book. I called her up, from his driveway. She said, sure, I got the case, come and get it. Drove to her house about a mile away and bought that sweet case for $20 (she'd gotten it for $10, why she didn't buy the uke, I don't know and didn't ask). So, there is the Saga of the Missing Uke Case! What ID's it as an Oscar Schmidt? Thanks!

It's a combination of the body shape, headstock shape and fret board end.

Christill1
06-22-2014, 09:07 AM
RiverDriver, My headstock is about identical to the unmarked Wildwood uke, but he also states that "ukes with this headstock shape have also been attributed to Harmony and others at the time."

Phil Hague, I assume the USPTO mark just refers to the Wurlitzer name trademark, not a patent.

Hmgberg, Thanks!

I guess I had hoped it was a Martin, but that's cool. I assume the body wood is koa, right? I'm no good with ID'ing wood. What's the fretboard wood? And what is the white material used in the binding?

Thanks again, everyone, I'm looking at it right now. Wow. The guy I got it from, a distinguished older gentleman, also has a banjo uke, that he couldn't find yesterday (and probably doesn't want to sell anyway). Both belonged to his dad, a uke player from way back when.

PhilUSAFRet
06-22-2014, 09:27 AM
Might get good info from Antebellum instruments if you haven't tried yet. Sec pics

Nickie
06-22-2014, 03:15 PM
wow wow wow what a find! It's beautiful! congrats! how does it sound?

Eyeguy
06-22-2014, 04:00 PM
Post this over at the Unofficial Martin Guitar Forum (UMGF) in the 4 String Farmhouse section and they will answer all of your questions.

Christill1
06-24-2014, 02:52 AM
Hey everybody. Though I am a marginal uke player, I think it sounds great. I always play the same one song on ukes, a tune I made up called "Ohio Island Sweetheart" that combines stock Hawaiian riffs with a midwestern setting. I've been trying to query the blokes over at the the UMGF, but still have not had my membership approved. Too, I did send pictures to Jake Wildwood to see if he has any comments. Once I gather all the info, and conclude my torrid love affair with it, it will be going on Ebay.

RonT
06-24-2014, 03:40 AM
Care to share "Ohio Island Sweetheart"? Will assume PIB, or Kelly's.....or Starve Island...;).
Cheers,
R

Christill1
06-24-2014, 05:47 AM
Hey Ron T,
You got that right! PIB and Kelly's! I love the Ohio Islands. Key of F, here's a link to an old demo version of "Ohio Island Sweetheart" by my long-defunct band Melonballer. The song was written on an old baritone ukulele. https://myspace.com/ohiomelonballer/music/songs?sid=95869352
Chris

Christill1
06-24-2014, 06:05 AM
Ron T,
Oops, wrong link. Here's more direct link to "Ohio Island Sweetheart": https://myspace.com/ohiomelonballer/music/song/ohio-island-sweetheart-95869352-106827521

RonT
06-24-2014, 06:07 AM
Now that's a nice laid back tune, has lots'a potential for OUC2, and/or next years NCUJ*.
R
*see Regional Get Togethers, does the pic look familiar?

Christill1
06-24-2014, 10:32 AM
Ron T, Hey thanks. "Laid back" sounds good to me. I had no idea what OUC2 or NCUJ were, but I went to the RGTs, like you suggested. Hilarious. North Coast. I love it, I'm down in deep mainland Ohio, Yellow Springs, southwest corner. Haven't figure out what the OUC2 is yet though...