c. 1890 Jérôme Thibouville-Lamy

Mirecourt, France

The town of Mirecourt is situated in the Vosges area of northeastern France near the borders of Luxembourg, Switzerland, and Germany. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, Mirecourt came into its musical instrument making heyday, consisting mainly of small family-run workshops employing highly skilled craftsmen.

Date 1890
Location Mirecourt, France
Length of Guitar 930mm
String Length 630mm
Upper Bout Width 245mm
Waist Width 170mm
Lower Bout Width 307mm
Side Depth at Waist 85mm
Soundboard: Spruce | Back: Brazilian rosewood | Sides: Brazilian rosewood | Details: Fronted by a profuse soundboard of abalone and mother of pearl flowers connected by vines of ebony.

Maker Biography

Performance Video

However, there were larger operators too, including Jérôme Thibouville-Lamy & Company who manufactured strings, woodwinds, brass, and mechanical organs.  J.T.L.’s long-running success lasted well into the twentieth century.

While their labels bear a Paris address, many of J.T.L.’s guitars found their way to London, and America too, after winning medals at prestigious international exhibitions in Philadelphia (1876) and Chicago (1893). At least two of their full-line catalogues survive: one from 1878 and another from c. 1900. Both catalogues provide a clear account of the size of their operation with over 1,250 employees working in both Mirecourt and Paris.

The design of the c. 1890 J.T.L. parlor guitar in the Austin-Marie Collection, with its ornate embellishments and diminutive scale, is more typical of guitars built earlier in the century. Fronted by a profuse soundboard of abalone and mother of pearl flowers connected by stems and vines of ebony, with rosewood back and sides veneered on birch and bound with ivory, it contrasts with the plain and larger modern-sized instruments being produced in Spain at that time by Antonio de Torres and José Ramírez.

There is an amusing anecdote attached to this guitar: it was borrowed by Ealing Film Studios of London for the 2002 movie, The Importance of Being Earnest. Oscar Wilde’s Jack Worthing, played by actor Colin Firth, can be seen strumming the instrument while strolling his stately grounds at Hertfordshire.