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Click here ... Delta Dawn? ... and read how the Sears catalog lead directly to the development of what we know of today as the Delta Blues ... fascinating stuff!

Exerpt: ... The first Sears, Roebuck catalog was published in 1888. It would go on to transform America. Farmers were no longer subject to the variable quality and arbitrary pricing of local general stores. The catalog brought things like washing machines and the latest fashions to the most far-flung outposts. Guitars first appeared in the catalog in 1894 for $4.50 (around $112 in today’s money). By 1908 Sears was offering a guitar, outfitted for steel strings, for $1.89 ($45 today), making it the cheapest harmony-generating instrument available. 

Throughout the 1910s Delta blacks routinely ordered a wide assortment of goods from Sears, Roebuck, including the instrument that would define them. In an interview with Alan Lomax, Gospel songwriter Charles Haffner recalled the switch from the reels of the past to the new blues sound: “Back around that time the guitar came into style, and the first blues I remember originated.…Yessir, we were entering into a jazz age, and the old world was being transformed.” 

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Replies to This Discussion

@Jud,

Good info. I love reading and learning about this kind of stuff. I'd have to say that old Sears catalog even in the mid-fifties was my dream book, too. Spent many hours looking at the instruments, and I just wished I could had a real job, so I could buy one of those guitars.

I got my 1967 Silvertone (Harmony) dread from Sears catalog for $59.95 (apparently about $350-$400 today) ... Rob Stoner just finished completely reconditioning it !!

Are you getting it back Jud, or is it Rob's now?

He's selling it back to me at a VERY reasonable price! I'm excited!!!

I pop in to Sam Ash for a few minutes to check out stuff and saw a used Harmony (USA made) guitar.  It was priced cheap at $65 but the sound was awful and there were dead frets.  I passed although I am thinking of getting a folk size or parlor size guitar as all I have are Dreadnoughts.  That would have been a good bottle neck delta blues guitar.  But I don't know how to play bottle neck slide.  The guitar could have come out of an old Sears catalog.


I moved this from the main Seagull forum.  It was supposed to be posted in this thread but I spaced as usual.

Ron,

Check this site for a great selection of reasonably priced parlor guitars from 0-000 size.

VintageParlorGuitars

Not connected with the site, but just a fan of parlor guitars. ;-)

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