Preliminary Details - showing photos of the guitar, prior to restoration, as it came to me.
There is limited information on the H1009 model on the Harmony Guitars Database, which reads....
H1009TL - Acoustic flatop - Sunburst - Production year(s) : 1940 (other years possible, not verified). The precise model number in the catalog is F1009TL. Sunburst with horizontal faux-flame. All birch. "Idento" tailpiece (place for your name on a rectangular card). Top wood Birch. Body wood Birch. All solid woods.
These "Depression Era" guitars are always interesting, and this description is interesting both for what it does say & what it doesn't say. It gives the production date as 1940, but I read the date stamp in this guitars as 1936, and I have a feeling that I have read somewhere of a design connection to the 1936 Berlin Olympics The Harmony Guitars Database also shows a "Wartime" example with the wooden tailpiece, introduced at the time of metal shortages in 1944....so I think that is the production span for this model.
The HGD description refers to the "Idento" tailpiece, but neither example shown has one....this guitar has the "twisted metal" tailpiece shown on the earlier example, but I have seen one with the Idento which was dated 1938. The simple "sunburst" description does not mention that this is a much lighter shade 'burst than the dark later examples.
I know from my records that I did previously sell an H1009, but my archive has so far failed to produce either description details or photos.
Stock Number - VTG1505.
This superb vintage guitar is the floating bridge/tailpiece configuration regularly used on parlor guitars in the 1920s/1930s, and continued on in the Harmony-made Stella guitars from 1940 to 1975, more of which were floating bridge than fixed bridge.
It has great looks, lots of vibe and historic all-American character - a superb sounding parlor blues guitar, which can be set up for finger-style or for bottleneck playing - an iconic Chicago made, 12 fret-to-the-body, parlor Blues Guitar - ladder braced, all Solid Birch construction, shaded light sunburst "faux-flame" finish, and an interesting soundhole ring transfer, which appears on some other Harmony models at the time. Harmony were fond of wreath-type designs in the 1930s, more usually designs incorporating actual leaf motifs....I have an idea in the back of my mind that I read somewhere, sometime, that this soundhole ring design was a stylized representation of the Olympic wreath at the time of the 1936 Berlin Olympics.....I may be wrong & certainly would not explain why it would still be in use in 1944!
The guitar is generally close to the slightly larger than the original parlor size template, which carried forward to the post-war "parlors" which Harmony made, particular the many variants of the Stella, at least in terms of the body width, but some other dimensions do vary a little. Body width is as described in HGD, at 13.125"/33.4cm., and 9.5"/24.1cm. at upper bout, but overall length is slightly shorter than indicated there at 35.5"/90.2cm., and body length of 17.625"/44.8cm. Body depth of 3.75"/9.4cm, indicated in HGD, is only correct at rear, with 3.15"/8cm. at front. HGD gives 615mm./24.25" Scale Length and 44.5mm./1.75" nut, but actual dimensions on this guitar measure more like 24"/610mm. for the scale and 1 1/16th./1.69"/42.9mm., but as there seems to be no clear scale length marking, we will check & confirm the scale length....all very marginal, detailed stuff, I know!
If you are an acoustic blues player and wonder why that top line guitar you bought doesn't sound authentic when you play blues like those of Blind Blake, Blind Willie McTell, or Blind Lemon Jefferson, I can tell you why it doesn't and never will! All of those guys and many others from the 30s through to the 60s played Birch bodied guitars, some of them with Spruce tops, some all Birch, but it is the Birch which gives that unmistakable sound. No guitar made today, American or otherwise can give you that sound, for Delta and Country Blues!
If you want a fully functioning, great sounding piece of American musical history, this is it - a really exceptional addition to any collection of Blues/Vintage Guitars.
As far as I can tell, this guitar is all original, and I expect to be able to maintain this originality in the restoration process. The overall condition is pretty good for an 80 year old guitar. Inevitably there is cosmetic wear and ageing, including various scratches & knocks, but little in the way of loss of finish/colour. The stenciled soundhole ring is intact.
Structurally, there are some things to do, but nothing unusual, or long-term detrimental, once correctly dealt with. Parts of the restoration work will be carried out in the workshop of the highly-experienced luthier I work with, and the whole job will be completed under his supervision.
Firstly the neck joint has lifted, causing the action to be higher than it should be. The neck will be removed and reset to the correct angle. In the process the fingerboard will be removed, and reset, again taking steps to correct the fingerboard extension angle change where it drops away after the body join, presumably by inserting a hardwood shaped fillet. It is likely then that the dyed Maple fingerboard will still need to be re-leveled and re-fretted (and possibly re-coloured/stained). There is every chance that the 80 year old wooden nut (also dyed Maple) will not survive the removal operation, and if it does not it will be replaced by a purpose-made Ebony one.
It will be necessary to open up the body, taking off the back panel, for access to repair & reinforce the two old crack lines, check the security of the braces, as loose braces are often found when similar cracks occur, and to carry out some work on the top bracing. The top & sides are sound, but the top has developed a slight dip around the soundhole, hence the need to again check the security of braces, remove, clean off & re-glue in place, if needed, and to insert between the braces lengthwise additional brace/reinforcements to strengthen the area around the soundhole.
The 3-on-a-strip tuners/machineheads are original and fully functioning. They will be checked over & cleaned....they do show typical age-related discolouration, and one tuner key shaft is a little bent....before a decision is made as to whether they can be retained, or whether it would be prefereable to replace with the appropriate model "Golden Age" repro set produced by Stewmac. The original metal tailpiece will be similarly cleaned, and I expect to retain this, together with the original dyed Maple floating bridge with fretwire saddle insert, even if the bridg height has to be increased by adding a hardwoood fillet, suitably dyed, to the base, if needed for the readjusted neck angle.
There is no intention to do any finish restoration, unless this becomes unavoidable as a result of structural works, merely to clean where needed and allow the superbly aged guitar to shine.
On completion of the neck reset/fingerboard re-alignment, and any other work found to be necessary, we will be looking to set the guitar up with an action of around 3mm. at the 12th. fret, which with just a tad more string height at the nut/first fret in order to aid bottleneck play, I reckon is ideal for a parlor or Stella "all-rounder", good for Bottleneck play, but with fretting aided by the shorter scale length and consequent lower string tension, therefore ideal for a mixture of finger-style and bottleneck play.
Additionally it could also be used for full-time slide with a nut riser costing no more than a few pounds. The sound is typically loud and pokey, just as a Stella should be - a great Bluesy voice! It has "That Sound" in spades - even, woody, bright, clear, ringing tone! Unless otherwise requested, it will be strung with Martin Bronze Light 12-54 strings, and really sounds tremendous - and loud!
There is no case with the guitar. I may be able to supply it with a specially fitted Hiscox Liteflite hardshell case. These cases of course do offer much better protection, but even the smallest case produced by Hiscox does require a couple of their extra internal pads fitting, in order to hold the small guitar correctly. I will be happy to advise whether I can marry the guitar to a suitable case, at the time of purchase, and if so agree with you an inclusive price for Guitar + Case.