PAUL VERNON CHESTER
Gibson FDH Special
Day & Hunter:- 1936-1940
On the way to
the pub, the friend I came with said, "Let's not go to the pub! Let's go home
for a drink!" Django said, "Okay." We got back to my friend's house. He
had a great bar and we had a few drinks. I then asked Django, "If I got my
guitars, would you play?"
Gibson FDH Special - F-hole archtop Francis, Day and Hunter Gibson model. Apparently, this is a similar guitar to the Recording King which was made for Mail Order Specialist Montgomery Ward Department Stores, although this is a highly graded deluxe guitar. "It has very unusual checker binding with a four-inch body. This guitar was made around 1935 and production for this model was from around 1934 to about 1942. The instrument also has a very unusual headstock for a Gibson. I've only seen one identical to this in England and it was blonde. The inlay on the neck was originally the same as the inlay on the headstock but was replaced in the 1970s. "The guitar plays wonderfully, sounds individual and looks, bold, and very 'late '30s.' It was referred to in the shipping ledgers as the "FDH Special" a custom made guitar for UK distributor Francis, Day & Hunter. The only "budget brand" to carry the Gibson name inlaid in pearl. This is one of the high-end guitars, so budget brand really doesn't apply. FD&H model (Francis Day & Hunter)this was made for the Charing Cross road shop specially by Gibson, it is a carved top, back and sides model, Not a cheap USA dept store model like Montgomery Ward & Cromwell that they did for USA stores. This is on a par with L series etc.
Gibson manufactured guitars for sale at Sears, Montgomery Wards, etc. Gibson also made Cromwell and Kalamazoo guitars, and made flat top as well as archtop bodies for National. Some other brands that included Gibson-made guitars: Ambassador, Capital, Carson Robison, Coast Wholesale, Fascinator, Francis Day & Hunter, Grinnell, Hayden, Kel Kroydon, Liberty, Martelle, MarShall, Mason, Mastertone, Mitchell Brothers, Nouveau by Gibson, Old Kraftsman, Oriole, Orville, Paynes, Recording King (Montgomery Ward), Reznick Radio, Spiegel, S.S. Stewart, Tex Star, Trujo, Ward, Washburn, and Werlein Leader.
Francis, Day & Hunter Ltd 138-140
Charing Cross Road London WC2H 0LD
From there a dim, windowless passageway led to the offices of the arrangers and copyists overlooking Charing Cross Road. Halfway along the passage on the left was Leon Young's office, a small room, perhaps eight or nine feet square, which looked out over Denmark Street. It was sparsely furnished with a desk and chair, an elderly leather visitor's chair and an upright piano of doubtful parentage. It had all the ambience of an Edward Hopper scene. The aforementioned facilities on the tiny landing afforded these professional musicians complete autonomy. They could brew their own tea and coffee by setting the hob burners to p, mp, mf, f and even ff according to the intensity of heat required. Occasionally they were summoned to the sumptuous offices on the floor below, there to meet a visiting artist in need of a special arrangement.
Among the fledgling artists whose careers Leon helped to launch in this way were the then schoolgirl, Petula Clark, and the young Max Bygraves.
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