An American in Mirecourt

The Americana themes of the c. 1875 Aubry-Maire may seem out of keeping with a guitar manufactured in France, but suggest that it may have been a special order for an American client. It may have also been a presentation guitar for display at one of the ten world’s fairs and expositions held in the United States during the second half of the nineteenth century. America’s World’s Fairs included Philadelphia in 1876 and Chicago in 1893, and the eight major expositions held between 1853 and 1898 were hosted by major cities including New York, New Orleans, and San Francisco.

“Miss Maire”

Adding to the mystery is the absence of a luthier’s label or stamp identifying the maker. According to Senier de Ridder, Joseph Aubry (1801–1867) married a “Miss Maire” in 1824 and subsequently built guitars under the hyphenated name of Aubry-Maire (using a hyphenated brand name arising from a marriage or joint venture was a common practice in Mirecourt).

Another strong possibility, based on nearly identical design elements, would have the guitar built by Jacques Aubry when he went to work for Jérôme Thibouville-Lamy & Company in or around 1890. It is conjectured that Jacques brought with him the Aubry-Maire construction templates, as J.T.L. guitars mirror the Aubry-Maire design from this period. When comparing the Aubry-Maire Americana guitar to the 1892 J.T.L. guitar in this collection, it is plausible that Jacques Aubry might very well have been the builder. We can only speculate.