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The Harmony Company

Why are we so interested in the Harmony Company? We know vintage Harmony guitars are prized instruments, but we weren't as familiar with their drums. So we were intrigued to see the label inside this bass drum shell: “Harmony Drum manufactured by The Harmony Company”, along with some patent dates, and in handwriting, “W. E. Patrick Jr., Newport RI Sept 1910”.

      

It turns out that the founder of the company, William Schultz, worked at the Knapp Drum Company in Chicago until it was bought out by Lyon & Healy; he continued to work as a foreman there until 1892, when he established the Harmony Company. This ad from May 1914 (Exporters’ Review) lists drums along with the featured string instruments:[1]

 

The Harmony Company was known for the high quality of its hand craftsmanship, which extended to all its student instruments. The brand became a subsidiary of Sears Roebuck in 1916. Harmony continued to do private label work not only for Sears but for other companies as well, and bought out other existing brands. For this reason, the instruments made by Harmony may have the Harmony label, distributors' labels, or any number of other companies' labels. I’ve added several links below to online postings where this information, and the rest of the Harmony Company history, is available.

We haven’t seen many drum labels from the Harmony Company here at our shop, although there are a few that turn up in online searches (some that show “patended” and some that show “patented”, in case you noticed the misspelling too). The drum we’re showing is from our collection. We only had the 2 ply birds-eye shell and the hoops; Jim put it back together with vintage hardware. Based on the history of the Harmony Company and the handwriting in the shell, we can say this drum (or at least the shell and hoops) was made no earlier than 1905 (the date on the patents listed on the label) and no later than 1910 (the handwritten date inside the shell). The few pictures we see of Harmony Company drums show a range of hardware; with vintage drums, it’s often hard to tell if hardware has been replaced over the years, or if the drum has original parts. Check out the patents below, filed in 1905 by W. J. F. Schultz, the founder of the Harmony Company, showing hardware concepts.

So, to answer the question, why are we so interested in the Harmony Company: This bass drum from our collection is for sale in our web store, we have a Lyon & Healy snare in our collection, and we've worked on many Lyon & Healy drums over the years. Now we just have to learn more about the Knapp Drum Company . . .

Clayman, Andrew (2024). The Harmony Company, est. 1892. Made in Chicago Museum. https://www.madeinchicagomuseum.com/single-post/harmony-company/.

Wyeth, Leonard (2010). The Harmony Company (1892-1975). Acoustic Music.Org. https://acousticmusic.org/research/guitar-information/large-shop-guitar-builders/harmony/

Adams, S. Nathaniel (2020). Identifying and Dating Harmony Guitars. S. Nathaniel Adams. https://www.snathanieladams.com/2020/03/identifying-and-dating-harmony-guitars.html

[1] Exporters’ Encyclopaedia Company, 1914. Exporters’ Review, Vol. 16, May 1914, p. 60. https://books.google.com/books?id=FmE9AQAAMAAJ&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false

 


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