BY TOM WALSH | FROM THE SUMMER 2019 ISSUE OF UKULELE
Recently, Ukulele reader William Wright sent in photos of an unusual triangular all-metal ukulele, seeking information about its manufacturer. After a search in my photo archives, I was able to locate information about a company named Rex Metal Products that made all-metal musical instruments under the “Rexcraft” trademark beginning in 1920.
In March of 1921, Music Trades magazine ran an article about, as well as an advertisement for, Rexcraft’s new all-metal instruments. The article notes that “the line includes mandolins, guitars, ukuleles, banjos, and Russian stringed instruments.” It also states that these are “designed chiefly for the use of children” but nonetheless claims they have “excellent tonal qualities.” They are touted as being able to “stand up under the hard knocks usually given such instruments by children.” The article photo shows the assorted instruments, including one that looks identical to Mr. Wright’s ukulele. It isn’t known how long Rex manufactured these, but it seems as though they must not have made many, as examples today are quite rare. Their stringed instrument line may not have lasted long, but Rexcraft grew as a bugle brand and, by 1926, was making the official Boy Scout bugles and calling itself “The World’s Largest Makers of Bugles.”
One question that remains is that of the name on the instrument in question. The name, printed on the headstock cover, is mostly worn away but appears to use the same Old English–style lettering that is used in the Rexcraft logo. Unfortunately, the name looks to start with the letter “S” and not “R.” So, while it seems clear this is a product of the Rex company, there is still some mystery as to what name was printed on this instrument.
This article originally appeared in the Summer 2019 issue of Ukulele.
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