The name Triolian (not to be confused with tricone, although the first Triolian was a tricone!) was used right from the start to cover the full range of National's painted instruments. Earliest guitar examples were plywood bodied followed soon by steel bodies.
The paint, which was made by Dupont, was a celulose based paint, sold under their trade name of Duco. There are two common variations in paint, a sandy colour, usually with a black Hawaiian scene stenciled on the back (serial# starts with P (for Polychrome), and a brown/walnut colour, sometimes sunburst, (serial# starts with W (for Walnut).
Sadly it adhered very poorly to bare steel, and many of these instruments have literally shed their paint like a snake sheds it's skin!
Note the Tenor is wood while the Mandolin is steel. It also looks from the primer showing on the coverplate wear points that they had finally solved the paint sloughing problem with a primer!
Back of tenor
This Triolian guitar has two serial numbers, 2356W on the headstock and S649 stamped onto the body. Since a magnet doesn't stick to the body we suspect that it is actually a brass body style 0 body which had some sort of plating or sandblasting flaw resulting in it being painted and sold as a Triolian with the appropriate neck fitted.
The earliest single cone instruments were these wooden bodied Triolians. The instrument shown is the third variation. The first had a decal of flowers on the back, and screen holes in the coverplate.
Click here to see our pictures of one of these early Triolians - Serial #73
The second had the same decal as the one pictured, but with screen holes in the coverplate. There is also a fourth variation, still made of plywood, but painted in a walnut sunburst, looking similar to the production "W" series metal bodied Triolians.
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