OK, we all see the current value/prices on these gorgeous harps of the early years (20’s, 30’s).
Charles- Someplace I have several of these old catalogues too, and one or two Wurlitzer catalogues. I remember reading in one of them from the mid 1920’s that a 23(always gold at that time) was something like $2,500. 40 years later, when I started studying the harp, the gold 23 was only $1,000 more, or $3,500 or so.
It’s interesting to note that until 1972 when CBS bought Lyon & Healy, the harp division had never made a nickel profit for the company. It was a ‘prestige’ item whose production was supported by the rest of the company business. The same was true of Wurlitzer. That’s why, towards the end of the depression when the Wurlitzer harp makers demanded more money, Wurlitzer refused and instead shut down the whole harp division, because even in good times it had never turned a profit.
I have the old commemorative catalogue from 1899 that L&H reproduced…and they list a style 22, in gold, with extended board as $1000. Not much of an increase by 1917 considering! The size was 69 inches, 45 strings, and with the new extended board.
The style 25 with extended board, 47 strings in gold, was $1,375. It was a gothic one that kind of looks like a simpler version of the 26 – which is around $69,000.
When I bought my Lyon & Healy 17 in 1979, it came with canvas cover, a C tuning fork, tuning key and small screwdriver. I bought a new 15 in 1977 but it didn’t have its own screwdriver or tuning fork. Maybe those just came with the pricier models. Do new harps now come with anything more than a canvas cover and tuning key?
Lyon & Healy belongs to Victor Salvi. He bought the company in 1986. If they read this they will squawk that I am wrong and that both Lyon & Healy and Salvi belong to a Swiss holding company, but that is nothing but a shell game. Ask them who owns the Swiss holding company.
The Salvi Daphne I just got came with the tuning key and dust cover, as well as a side cutter for the bass wires (a quite good quality German-made one too), three spare rubber pedal tip covers and a “leatherette” drawstring pouch to put everything in.
It is not harp related per-se but I just had a lovely old English banjo come in the shop. A model like this one cost over six pounds in the 30s. My father worked with the health service ten+ years later and made only a pound a week, (just post-war) and yet, lived fairly well on that. To fork out six pounds on an instrument would have been a staggering indulgence (six weeks pay, or about $3,200. in today’s money), so much more so for a less well-paid person. Today, one can buy a quite good beginners’ banjo (not as good quality as this one, but eminently playable) for under $500, but many people make that or far more in a week (not me).
My first bass guitar was an Ibanez bought in the early 80s and cost about $400. (plus $65 for a case). A good beginners’ bass costs much less today, all the more when one factors in the depreciation of the dollar.
It is, I feel, much cheaper to buy musical gear today, at least for the lower end instruments. Good ones will always cost, but you buy a L+H harp, or a Taylor guitar, you’ve got something great. Nothing great is cheap, nothing cheap is great.
- The forum ‘Amateur Harpists’ is closed to new topics and replies.