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Thread: Harmony Date Codes and Serial Numbers

  1. #1
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Harmony Date Codes and Serial Numbers

    There has been a conventional wisdom for the last several years as to how Harmony Date Coded their instruments and how they were read. The general thought (that I have posted here in the past) is that they were stamped with a letter that stood for the season the instrument was built (Summer, Winter, Fall) followed by the two digit year. From some recent information that was gleaned from a former Harmony employee that has changed somewhat. I went back through my records of instruments that passed through my hands certain I'd had a W in the past. I had not. Everything I've owned (a few dozen) was marked S or F. Harmony apparently shut down for two weeks every July and there would be a rush to complete instruments by the end of June. Those pre shutdown instruments were marked F-YEAR. Those instruments built after the shutdown were marked S-YEAR (First Half, Second Half). I see that is the most likely explanation for the date code.

    There has also been a conventional wisdom that Harmony did not put serial numbers on their mandolins. The answer there is they kind of did. A Harmony Model number is generally stamped as XXXHXX. It appears that the number after the H is the model number and the number prior is the serial of that batch, made in that time period. In other words, you can't date a Harmony instrument from the serial number alone. You need the date code. It should also be noted that some of the time that stamped number just isn't there.

    Special thanks to Hal Loflin for pointing me towards some great information.

  2. #2
    Registered User Brad Nicholas's Avatar
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    Default Re: Harmony Date Codes and Serial Numbers

    I have a Monterey. I took the back off to fix a few items when I got it so I took a few pictures of the interior. It looks like the two codes in mine are:

    Under bass f-hole: 3557H417
    Between bottom of treble f-hole and tailblock: ??-S2S (in an oval)

    The ?? appears like it could be DV, CV, or W. There was glue from a previous poor repair over the letter(s). Removal of the glue did not make the mark any more clear since the glue took some of the marking with it.
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  3. #3
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Harmony Date Codes and Serial Numbers

    I can't even read that date code and I usually can.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Harmony Date Codes and Serial Numbers

    Mike, thanks for that. So the First half and Second half explanation, would make it just the opposite season from the generally accepted Spring and Fall. It makes good sense though. The First and Second shift explanation I believe also came from an ex-employee. Makes me wonder if there was just a little misunderstanding on the half of the year and work shift part by the person collecting the facts.
    I have seen numbers like Brad's on a few Harmony instruments that from all features appear to be from the late 30's early 40's. I have never been able to figure them out either.
    bobby burns

  5. #5
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Harmony Date Codes and Serial Numbers

    This explanation put it all in line. I wish I still had the link to the site where I got it. If I have time I'll look for it.

    The First Shift/Second Shift doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me, the instruments weren't built in a single shift. The First half/Second half at least allows for a time period that could be feasible.

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