1914 Stathopoulo 15A

New York City was a major center of stringed instrument manufacturing at the turn of the 20th century. Lower Manhattan housed a number of family-owned brands including Yosco and Favilla, as well as wholesalers such as Buegeleisen & Jacobson and Bruno & Sons. Across the East River was the Gretsch factory, and across the Hudson was Oscar Schmidt. Into this environment came Anastasios Stathopoulo, a Greek instrument builder who emigrated from the Turkish city of Smyrna.

Like so many other immigrants at the time, Stathopoulo arrived through Ellis Island and never relocated outside New York. He had built, repaired and sold musical instruments in Smyrna, and his adopted city proved highly amenable to similar business. The Stathopoulo family was sufficiently successful for their oldest son, named Epaminondas but called Epi, to graduate from Columbia University. When Anastasios died in 1915, Epi was well-placed to take the company to a new level of success. The more obscure Greek folk instruments were promptly dropped in favor of the hotter items in American music, including banjos of several varieties. Instrument labels dropped Anastasios’s first initial and proclaimed their manufacture by the House of Stathopoulo. A few years later, this was succeeded by a new name that would become a major force in 20th century instruments: Epiphone.

Anastasios Stathopoulo’s instruments were innovative, but, like so many other small brands of the era, their lack of mass exposure prevented their designs from attaining wide influence. Stathopoulo favored unconventional body shapes and soundholes, which resulted in some utterly unique harp guitars. He also favored violin-style headstocks, using them on banjos and various members of the lute family. This mandolin has a relatively conventional body, but the wide base of the headstock is a Stathopoulo trademark. The multiple laminations in the neck – which help keep it from warping – and the scarf joint at the base of the headstock are also common to his work.