Here's another early 20th Century guitar mystery, as there's no information on a guitarmaker named "J. Barnard" of Chicago, or anywhere else for that matter. As the paper label makes clear, it was sold by the J. B. Brown Music Co. of Los Angeles, who also claimed to be the "sole agents." (listings for J.B. Brown Music Co. can be found dated 1902, and 1909, but yield no other info). Our informed guess is that J. B. Brown had guitars made for them by one of several small factories in Chicago, or New Jersey, that specialized in the "Custom Brand" business. This guitar has features that point to Chicago as the origin, such as the bridge, handstop on the neck, and of course the label, but the soundhole rosette and top bracing suggest New York/New Jersey. If you do a search you'll find a listing on Reverb for a guitar with the same label, and similar features, but that seller suggests it was made by the Larson Brothers (which we don't think is likely).

This guitar is slightly smaller than a Martin 12-fret size 0 (it's 13 inches wide, a Martin 0 is 13 1/2"), with original tuners, frets, bridge, and finish. Neck angle is somewhat shallow and the neck has a fair amount of relief, but it plays quite well in the lower positions. If you want to play over the entire fretboard a refret would be needed. Condition is quite good overall with one tight hairline crack to the top (see photo 10) to the left of the bass-side fingerboard edge. Note the finish damage along the bottom edge on the treble side (photo 10 again) from exposure to moisture, probably when the case got wet. The finish on the side in that area also got foggy, but everything is solid inside with no sign of water damage so that part of the guitar got damp but never got soaked.

A cool little pearl-bordered parlor guitar with great Brazilian rosewood.

stock no. 52332

TopAdirondack spruce
Back and sidesBrazilian rosewood
Frets to body12
Bridge materialebony
Fretboard Materialebony
Neck materialSpanish cedar
Serial No569
Neck profilerounded V
Finishshellac varnish
Bindingrosewood on top edge
Total frets18