January 10, 1891 is the date on the label of dulcimer Number 469 made by James “Uncle Ed” Thomas (1850-1933). This dulcimer is painted black and the scroll is outlined with white paint. According to the label it was made in Buncombe, Knott County, Kentucky. Though Uncle Ed started making mountain dulcimers in the 1870s this may be the earliest known dulcimers that he made still in existence.
L. Allen Smith describes Uncle Ed's double bout (hour glass) style "...characterized by round shoulders, narrow waists, and mortised ribs, or ribs that are mortised into the tuning head and tailpiece blocks..." (page 81 of A Catalogue of Pre-Revival Appalachian Dulcimers).
Uncle Ed Thomas (1850-1933) was born in Letcher County, Kentucky and lived part of his life on Big Doubles Creek in Knott County, Kentucky. Along with Charles Prichard, James Edward Thomas is credited with being one of the first to build and popularize the Cumberland-Style Dulcimer (modern hour-glass) in the Kentucky and West Virginia region. It is reported that Thomas began to make dulcimers in 1871 and made dulcimers for about 62 years. He sold them as a traveling peddler through remote areas of Kentucky, carrying them on his back or in a pony cart. His instruments cost $3 for Poplar and $5 for Walnut. He made an estimated 1,500 instruments in his lifetime and influenced many dulcimer makers over the years.
Last edited by dbennett
on Tue Jan 17, 2017 8:51 pm, edited 3 times in total.