View Full Version : Johnny Marvin Tenor with airplane bridge: Years in production?

07-26-2014, 02:01 PM
I've just scored a gorgeous Johnny Marvin Professional Tenor with airplane bridge. (Thanks, Ukulele Eddie!) The guy who sold it to Eddie dated it to 1928, the first year of production. I generally see them dated as 1928, "ca. 1930" or some such. Does anybody here know what the actual production years were for this model? Thanks in advance for any historical education you all can provide.

07-26-2014, 02:41 PM
Cool! I scored one too today - http://www.ukulele.org/?Inductees:2002-2003:Johnny_Marvin

07-26-2014, 05:20 PM
I have often wondered what those miniature ukuleles that Mr Marvin took to England looked like, and if any have surfaced since. And, for that matter, what the gold engraved uke presented to the Prince looked like. Man, if that ever turned up on EBay it would fetch a good price!!!
I have always loved this story.
More here...... Scroll down a bit to see Prince Edward at Waikiki

http://http://nalu-music.com/?cat=4 (http://nalu-music.com/?cat=4")

I hope you enjoy your "Johnny" as much as I enjoy mine, and part of that enjoyment for me is playing something with a story.

07-26-2014, 05:53 PM
Thanks! It's a beauty. And you're right, a great story behind it.

07-27-2014, 10:35 PM

The man himself.

07-27-2014, 10:55 PM
Fabulous video Chefuke! Thanks for sharing.

07-30-2014, 02:14 PM
Bumping this in the hope there are some historians out there. Thanks.

Jim T.
07-30-2014, 07:47 PM
Bumping this in the hope there are some historians out there. Thanks.

The Johnny Marvin "Prince of Wales" tenor ukulele (all koa, gold-plated pegs, Harmony Model No. 689) went into production in 1928 (possibly May-June) and retailed for $25. Model No. 688, the cheaper version, was all mahogany with nickel-plated pegs, and sold for $15 retail. Both had what Harmony called the "Aero-Bridge" -- no doubt an attempt to cash in on the Lindbergh craze. It seems unlikely that a high-end uke of this kind would have been made past 1930 or 1931, as the bottom dropped out of the uke market during the Depression, particularly at the higher end.

07-30-2014, 09:09 PM
Jim, that is fascinating information. Great stuff, thanks. I believe I saw a Prince of Wales Harmony sell on eBay last year for almost nine hundred bucks. I was stunned (and that was before the recent sag in the vintage uke prices) as that is the highest priced Harmony I have ever seen, plus I'd never seen a Koa a Harmony before that. The mahogany Marvins typically are with asking (not often selling) prices of 1/3 that, but in various conditions of course. I see those on eBay during my vintage uke hunts, and they are fun to see. With your explanation, I can better understand the value of the Prince of Wales model. And the uniqueness of the Marvins in the Harmony line. Thanks. That's a good link below, too.

Two questions, Jim. Do they all, even the POW model, have one piece wood bridges with integrated wood saddle, or did the higher ones use bone (I tend to avoid vintage ukes with no bone, but that's just me)? Maybe they all have bone saddles, I cannot tell from the photos. Any idea how many POW models were made? Thanks.

07-31-2014, 01:22 AM

This question should have been posed in the Vintage Section . . . . . oh, that's right, we don't have a vintage section here, this despite the fact that we have discussions, questions, and general posts of acquired vintage ukes here on a daily basis. Rather, we get a new section entitled Shameless Promotion instead. Makes no sense to me that the premier ukulele site in existence somehow does not see the importance of having a section dedicated to the very ukes that started it all. Ok, rant over.

Here is some additional info:



07-31-2014, 12:46 PM
Thanks, Jim and Eyeguy, for the informative replies.

Jim Yates
11-07-2014, 02:39 PM

I don't have anything to add to this discussion, but I love this photo of my friend John Bird, one of the two folks who re-introduced me to the ukulele. I found this Johnny Marvin uke in a junk store in Port Hope and let John know about it. It has now become one of his many ukulele family instruments.