I wonder what name they finally settled on! Advertisement from early 1901. Probably from a newspaper. eBay
Regal Manufacturing Company was a division of the Wulschner-Stewart Music Company.
Emil Wulschner (b. 1847) immigrated to Indianapolis from Germany in 1875. In 1888, he founded the Emil Wulschner Music Company and then shortly thereafter, he added his stepson, Alexander Stewart, as a partner so the business name was changed to Wulschner & Son Music Company. (The name would change for a third time to Wulschner-Stewart Music Company after Emil’s death in 1900.)
The Wulschner-Stewart Music Company printed sheet music, published original compositions, and offered all manner of fine musical instruments for sale (some of which were manufactured onsite). They were especially well-known for their selection of pianos and player pianos. In 1896, the company began producing guitars and mandolins under the name, “Regal.” The Regal factory made thousands of instruments annually, including mandolins, guitars, experimental instruments, and “distinctive instrument lines” for other firms. Experimentation in the field appears to have been costly:
Why, even last year and the year before, after our factory was firmly established, the experiment necessary in constructing the two instruments, the Regal Mandolin Quartet, and the Regal Contra Bass Guitar, ran into the thousands of dollars, and now some of our experts are working on a new theory that may revolutionize the manufacture of these instruments, the cost of which we can as yet barely estimate.” -Music Trade Review, courtesy Harp Guitar Foundation
One product that the Regal brand experimented with was the “Harp Guitar” — a stringed instrument with any number of additional unstopped strings that can accommodate individual plucking.” The word “harp” is used in reference to its harp-like, open strings.
According to the Harp Guitar Foundation, only four Regal harp guitars are known to still exist. They are highly sought after by collectors (making a Regal harp guitar an outstanding choice for gift giving this holiday season!) Check the cupboards in those dusty conservatories, basements and attics. You’ll know you have the “real Regal” if you see these markings:
In difficult economic times, the Wulschner-Stewart Music Company was forced to sell the Regal name to the Chicago firm of Lyon and Healy. The parent company, Wulschner-Stewart, continued to operate until it was dissolved in 1914.
The Regal Musical Instrument Company would eventually move manufacturing processes to Chicago. By the 1930s, they were one of the largest manufacturers of musical instruments in the world, specializing in mass-produced student instruments, and custom-built instruments for professional musicians. Production of all fretted instruments ceased in 1954. However, since the its close, other companies have occasionally produced guitars under the Regal name.
With special thanks to:
The Indianapolis Public Library Digital Collections, IUPUI Digital Libraries, Gregg Miner and the Harp Guitar Foundation, Library of Congress, Lardy’s Database, eBay, Amazon.com, NAMM.org
In the comment box below:
Do you have an original Regal or Wulschner & Stewart instrument? How did it come to you?