Harmony, “Golden Jubilee” Lap Steel Guitar, 1936 - Jimmy Blakley


“Golden Jubilee” Lap Steel Guitar
The Story Behind

Harmony was an American company that, in its heydays, was the largest musical instrument manufacturer in the USA. They made many types of stringed instruments, including ukuleles, acoustic and electric guitars, and violins.
Harmony was founded in 1892 by Wilhelm Schultz. In 1916, Sears, Roebuck and Co. purchased it, in part to corner the ukulele market. At the time Harmony was led by Joe Kraus, who was chairman until 1940.

This lap steel guitar is one of the first generation of commercial electric guitars. Made in Chicago the semi-hollow body is assembled from stamped metal front and back halves with numerous decorative flourishes including an elaborate scroll on the headstock. That Harmony "Golden Jubilee" was sold through the Sears catalog only, for one year only, 1936. It was listed as a Supertone in the catalog and was offered with a Supertone amplifier at a total cost of $ 67,50.

The pickup was made by Rickenbacher for Harmony. The pickup on the guitar is most interesting in that it has three coils connected in series fit into a wood block with a horse-shoe magnet.

When inspecting the guitar it appeared that one of the former owners has inscribed his name and phone number. This common practice among musicians enables them to identify the instruments belonging to them. In this case the name of Jimmy Blakley appears, suggesting that he was one of the owner of this instrument. 

Jimmy and Dorothy Blakley were a husband-wife act that were making Western music for several years in the 1950s. Jimmy and Dorothy got their start on radio station KLPR in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and later worked on several other stations before moving to Roswell, New Mexico. Jimmy played steel guitar for their group, while his wife played the piano. They were playing nightly over at Scotty's Club in Roswell, New Mexico. They had their own radio show over KSWS in Roswell for over three years, too. In addition, they had a weekly television program over KSWS-TV that aired on Thursday.

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