A network for historic guitars and vihuelas
I have a guitar that is made in Prague by Jaroslav Houslar Dvorak. The only thing through my research is that he made violins at the end of the 1800's and beginning of the 1900's but not a thing about building guitars. This guitar has the exact label as his violins. It has brazilian rosewood back and sides with spruce or pine top. Does anyone know anything about this builder or if it is a rare guitar. I would appreciate any information anyone has to offer.
What an interesting find.
Jalovec's 'Encyclopedia of violin-makers' (London 1968) gives information on various Dvoraks but not one named Jaroslav Houslar D. However one of Jaroslav Antonin D's labels illustrated is identical to that in your guitar except for the date so I suggest the maker of yours is Jaroslav Antonin Dvorak.
Jalovec lists four makers with the surname Dvorak and I give their salient details below:
- Jan Baptista, Prague 1825 Unhost 1890. Pupil of Jan Kulik. Known for violin family but also a few guitars;
- Jaroslav Antonin, Prague 1861 - Prague 1921 (son of JBD) no guitars mentioned (but same label as yours);
- Karel Boromaus, Prague 1856 - Prague 1909 (son of JBD) worked abroad (Paris, Vienna) no guitars mentioned;
- Karel (Carolus) Josef, Prague 1887 - Prague 1947 (son of JAD) worked abroad (Berlin, Vienna, Stuttgart) no guitars mentioned.
This guitar seems away from the mainstream of instruments (upper bout similar in width to lower etc). It would be interesting to compare with one of his father's known guitars (wherever they are!). Incidentally, as I'm sure you've noticed, the bridge looks like a replacement: not only the marks on the belly (perhaps indicating decorative ends on the original bridge) but the present bridge itself looks quite bulky and clumsy. If you find one of his father's instruments it might be worthwhile replacing the bridge.
Thanks so much for your response and information. I believe the fretboard has been replaced as well. I have had responses from a few others as well ranging from "an interesting guitar possibly of historical value" to "a guitar that has little of no significant value." Then again, I realize that it could be a guitar made by someone else and at sometime repaired by J. Dvorak and the label added. Who knows? So far, we don't have anything to compare it to. If you run across a photo of a Jan Baptist Dvorak guitar, please forward it on to me.