Charles E. Brasher

Luthier and Inventor, Toronto, Canada.

 

Charles E. Brasher was a metalworker and musician who made resonator instruments in Toronto, Canada in the early to mid 1930's. I had thought that he probably used a National cone in his instruments, but now have pictures and patent details to show that the cone used was, indeed, of his own design.

When the patent was issued he was a chauffeur.(His patent application describes him as 'Chauffeur') He had impressed some wealthy Torontonian somehow, and the wealthy Torontonian used Ted as his full-time chaffeur for a few years. Later on, during the WWII time frame Ted worked for Research Enterprises, and then Inglis Home Appliances, as a machinist, tool and die maker, and lathe operator.

We are interested since he patented his own design cone in Canada, and yet his name has not been mentioned in any way in the context of patent infringement of National's own single cone patents.

I now believe that Charles only made the metalwork and that the necks and wooden bodies were made by other folk, for example I have seen an Aloha coverplate on a wooden Reliance body which had "J. E. BACKSTROM 257 BERKELEY S TORONTO." Stamped inside the body, ie it was stamped there before the wood was glued up. Another maker whose work is evident in the wooden body instruments is Arthur Hensel, also of Toronto to whom I credit the 'Reliance' model, and, possibly most of the wooden bodies and necks.

I have started a Wikipedia page on Charles at: Wikipedia/Charles Brasher If you can add any information please do so there. Or email us.

We have now heard of six models made by Charles, all six are pictured below.

The Maui.

Maui guitar, front

Maui butterfly engraving

Hon Haw Ca 1936/7

We would love to know more about these folks, I'm told that this was Charles' band and that he made their guitars. If you can help in anyway please email.

Bryan Bradfield who knows far more about the Brasher story and instruments has emailed with this information: " The band photo is circa 1948. The members are all Torontonians. From the left, Bill Fraser (guitar), unknown accordion and drums, Ted Brasher (Hawaiian guitar), Lloyd White (piano), Bob Westfield (Hawaiian guitar), Priscilla Whittam (vocalist)."
Thanks, Bryan!


The Aloha.

Aloha Handrest

Aloha Metal Biscuit
Note the all metal biscuit on this one!

Aloha Stamp. J. E. BACKSTROM   257 BERKELEY S TORONTO
J. E. BACKSTROM 257 BERKELEY S TORONTO.
Rubber stamped inside the body.

Aloha Body Front

Note the all metal biscuit on this one!


The Artist model.

Artist model coverplate

Artist model headstock

 


The Reliance.

Reliance front

Reliance bracing

 

Reliance headstock

 

Reliance cone

As you'll see, the cone is an interesting 'take' on National's version!

Reliance cone in body

Reliance bridge and biscuit

The biscuit in this case had a steel in wood insert, we have heard of various other inserts being used.The patent actually refers to glass..


The Supertone.

Supertone Cover Plate

Supertone Cover Plate Patent #

Supertone Full Front

Supertone Bridge Patent #.jpg

Supertone Body Front


The Silvatone.

Silvatone Handrest

Silvatone engraving

Silvatone Palm detail

Silvatone Side detail

Mark Stutman writes about this Silvatone:

Serial #678. We've found proof that the artists of the Lasceaux caverns had direct descendants living in Canada in the 1930's, and they created some of the most stunning "art brut" of the millennium. This guitar is made of nickeled brass, with soundholes reminiscent of Mennonite "hex" symbols and the most incredible na´vist rendition of a hula girl/pharaoh and palm trees/papyrus engraved on the back, which makes you wonder whether the ancient Egyptians might have been the first to settle Hawaii. The guitar was built to be playable in both Spanish and lap styles, with a floral motif decorating the treble side of the body. The neck is maple with a Brazilian rosewood fingerboard.

There has been some discussion in resonator circles of the work of Charles Edward Brasher, who held the 1935 patent for this guitar (#349662). What has not been noted until now is the direct connection to the work of Arthur Hensel. Followers of our folkwaymusic website will have noted our fascination with the guitars Hensel built in Toronto in the '30's and '40's. Hensel made guitars and mandolins of many different quality points, but all have a few defining touches that make them easily recognizable. Perhaps best of these birthmarks is his peculiar treatment of the transition from back of neck to headstock.

We've seen a number of examples of his wood-bodied resonators, often under the "Reliance" name. This is the first brass-body we've had. It would appear that Hensel built and finished the neck for Charles Brasher, a tool and die maker and musician. It has been suggested that these were only built for members of Brasher's band, starting in 1934 when the patent was applied for. The resonator is a unique blend of Dobro and National styles featuring a pressed aluminum cone similar in shape to a Dobro but with a biscuit bridge. The body and setup are crudely done, but with an immediacy and flare that make the guitar irresistible.


Thanks to Peter Sloan for the Reliance and Artist model pictures, Adam Anderson for the Aloha, William Labadie for the Supertone pictures, Folkways Music/Mark Stutman for the Silvatone picture. The Maui pictures comes from Michael Messer's forum on 'unusual resonator guitars'. I don't know who took the Maui pictures, so, photographer please contact us to be credited.

Patent office scan of CB patent

Patent office scans of CB patent description Page 1

Patent office scans of CB patent description Page 2

 

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