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British Industrial History

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James Ashborn

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James Ashborn was a maker of guitars and banjos in the USA in the 19th century.

Ashborn was born in England c.1816, and emigrated to the USA in the late 1830s. He settled in what is now Torrington, New England, in the mid 1840s.

He established a small water-powered factory producing guitars, making extensive use of machine tools, to produce affordable instruments of consistently high quality. Individuals in the small team of workers undertook specific tasks rather than building a complete instrument. The guitars were primarily sold under the William Hall and Son label, and were made by Ashborn until 1869.

The above information is from an excellent magazine article about Ashborn's guitar production, which includes detailed observations on production methods[1]. The magazine article acknowledges the use of information from Dr. Philip F. Gura, whose full article is also available online [2]. Dr Gura suggests that Ashborn may have been one of a number of English workers recruited by Israel Holmes to establish a brass works in Wolcottville.


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Sources of Information

  1. [1] Vintage Guitar Magazine website: James Ashborn.
  2. [2] “Manufacturing Guitars for the American Parlor: James Ashborn, Wolcottville, Connecticut, Factory, 1851-1856, Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society, 104, part I (1994), 117-155.”