c. 1899 C. Bruno & Son

New York, USA

Census records show that Charles Bruno was born in Saxony in 1806, and as a young man, followed the historic wave of German immigration to America during the second quarter of the nineteenth century.

Date 1899
Location New York, USA
Length of Guitar 955mm
String Length 627mm
Upper Bout Width 235mm
Waist Width 195mm
Lower Bout Width 323mm
Side Depth at Waist 92mm
Soundboard: Spruce | Back: Brazilian rosewood | Sides: Brazilian rosewood | Details: Highly ornate presentation guitar adorned with mother of pearl, ivory, bone, & abalone.

Bruno initially settled in Macon, Georgia in 1832 and shortly thereafter moved to New York City. Records show that by 1837, he was employed by C. F. Martin as a bookkeeper and the following year, formed a short-lived partnership with Martin to market instruments under the Martin & Bruno brand. Martin, however, was already transitioning from New York to his new home in Nazareth, Pennsylvania, and the partnership was soon dissolved.

Bruno returned to Georgia but in 1850 his name once again appears in the New York directories. Over the next eighteen years or so, Bruno formed a variety of partnerships, including Bruno & Cargill and Bruno & Weissenborn & Co. Working as a wholesaler, he offered a full line of musical instruments and accessories including woodwinds, brass, bowed instruments, percussion, music boxes, and guitars. In 1868, he founded C. Bruno and Son with his oldest son, Charles Bruno, Jr.

The Brunos were not guitar manufacturers but instead, contracted and represented various guitar makers at one time or another, including C. F. Martin; they also imported a large assortment of instruments from Europe. A quick glance at their c. 1890 catalogue shows 30 guitar models offered in various woods and sizes – from plain looking to embellished. Twelve of the models are American-made, while the remainder are imported.

The c. 1899 C. Bruno & Son presentation guitar in the Austin-Marie collection is a rare offering from the company with its ample use of pearl, abalone, ivory, and bone to adorn the neck, headstock, back, rosette, and purfling. The back and sides are made of Brazilian rosewood and the soundboard is ladder braced. This instrument doesn’t appear in the company’s trade catalogue, further suggesting that it was custom made for a special client or event.

Charles Bruno Sr. died in 1884, followed by Charles Bruno Jr. in 1912. The company continued to prosper well into the twentieth century before being sold to Kaman Music Corporation in 1971.