Today In Mountain Dulcimer History: 19 March 1850

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Today In Mountain Dulcimer History: 19 March 1850

Postby dbennett » Sun Mar 19, 2017 5:41 am

James Edward (Uncle Ed) Thomas (1850-1933) was born in Letcher County, Kentucky. Thomas 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. L. Allen Smith describes Uncle Ed’s double bout 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). It is reported that Thomas began to make dulcimers in 1871 and made dulcimers for about 62 years. He made an estimated 1,500 instruments in his lifetime and influenced many dulcimer makers over the 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.

Ralph Lee Smith wrote in the 1993-04 issue of Dulcimer Players News Vol. 19 No. 4, "More than any other person, James Edward Thomas deserves credit for introducing the Appalachian dulcimer to the world."
~Uncle Ed01.JPG
~Uncle Ed Thomas02.JPG
Last edited by dbennett on Sat Sep 02, 2017 7:10 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Today In Mountain Dulcimer History: 19 March 1850

Postby kwl » Sun Mar 19, 2017 1:24 pm

Here is a photo of a dulcimer made by James Edward Thomas near the end of his building carerer. It is number 1465 and dated 1931. When I received it, it was in disrepair and non-playable. John Huron repaired (and rebuilt) it and took the photo.

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

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