Early in their history, Carvin printed and distributed flyers on various
products in response to customer's requests. The
flyers on this page are all from the early 1950's, and show Carvin as it
began to take it's first tentative steps as a mail-order maverick.
On the right is an
original mailing label from Carvin, circa about 1950. This showed
the original Baldwin Park address, and, of course, in those days you
didn't have to use ZIP codes.
Below on the left is
the Model #140 Spanish electric guitar. It was a
single-pickup arch-top model, with a spruce top, and rosewood
fingerboard and bridge. It had white binding on the front and
back, and a white pickguard, with an antique brown finish. The
pickups were not specified - presumably, they were Carvin-made pickups,
since that's how Carvin got it's start, but they did not appear to be
AP-series pickups that would begin to be used in the late 1950's.
The model #140 sold for
Compare the Model #140 above to the 1953 Kay guitars on the right.
They are essentially the same, except for the addition of the pickup on
the #140. In fact, it appears that the Model #140 is based on the
Kay K-34 (center top). The headstock shape, tailpiece and finish
are identical. This wasn't unusual - at the time, Kay manufactured
guitars that were rebadged under several names, including Airline,
Silvertone (Sears) and Old Craftsman. So, even though the Model
#140 (and similar models of the era, including the Model #41 mandolin
below) said "Carvin" on the headstock, these were actually Kay
early in their history, Carvin offered mandolins, which was quite a
popular instrument at the time. Like the model #140 guitar,
this mandolin, the model #41, didn't explicitly use Carvin AP
pickups, and judging by the photo, these were not AP-series pickups,
but most likely A-series non-adjustable pickups, or a predecessor.
model #41 was made with an arched birch top and birch back with
natural finish. The neck and fingerboard material were not
model #41 electric mandolin sold for $49.90.
variety of models would bear the name "Student Deluxe" in Carvin's
steel guitar lineup throughout the years. In the early 50's,
it was the Model #22. This was a 22.5" scale no-frills
6-string, with a plastic-covered hardwood body, single pickup with
volume and tone controls, basic tuners, and basic bridge/tailpiece.
The model #22 sold for $27.50.
This is another "Student Deluxe" model - almost certainly a 1953
model. This is a Model #19, and an identical model with
the same name appeared in the 1954 catalog, although it no longer
carried the "Student Deluxe" name.
This was a basic lap
steel, with a plastic covered hardwood body, and a 22½" scale
fingerboard that was probably some type of plastic. Other features
included a single pickup with chrome plated cover and single volume
and tone controls. The Model #19 sold for $27.50, and the optional
case was $6.50 - slightly less than the 1954 pricing, which is more
proof that this is probably a 1953 model.
Model #50 (shown) and Model #60 steel guitars were
similar to the Student Deluxe models, but with upscale features such
as ivory knobs and tuner buttons. Like the model #22, it was
constructed from premium hardwoods, then coasted with a pearlescent
plastic. Like other models of this era, the pickups were not
specified, other than that they used Alnico V magnets. The
6-string model #50 sold for $49.90, and the 8-string model #60 sold
#59 tripleneck was a bit of an anomaly. Carvin
made several tripleneck (and even quad-neck) steel guitars
in the 1950s, but this was the only one that was coated with
the same gray pearlescent plastic used on the lap steel
models. This was also an 8-string model - possibly
Carvin's first. It featured ivory tuning pegs and
knobs, 22½" Lucite fingerboards and chrome hardware.
It sold for $169.90.
In a precursor
to today's engraved truss rod covers, for an additional
$12.50, you could have you name stenciled on the side.
This is the
Model #15 amplifier. This is probably a 1953, or
possibly a 1952 version of the amp, because the photograph
is the same as the 1954 Model #11, but the Model #11 was
more powerful, even though the two were superficially the
same. This amp produced 5 watts of power, and had a
10" speaker. Controls consisted of two inputs and a
master volume control. The price advertised on this
flyer was #39.90.
As in later years, Carvin sold an unusual array of accessories
early on. One of these was the Kontak Mike, which was an
acoustic transducer type of mic, that attached to an instrument to
pick up and amplify it's vibrations & tone. This
would be offered throughout the 1950's.
the 50' and 60's, Carvin offered products be DeArmond, such as the
model 600 volume pedal and model 601 tremolo control. DeArmond
products would be seen in Carvin catalogs until the late 1960's.
mainstay of early Carvin catalogs and other literature was the
"Introduction Letter". This basically introduced Carvin to the
consumer, and explained the advantages of buying direct from Carvin
versus buying from a retailer.
The pages to the left and below were included as loose-leaf inserts
in a Kay Guitar catalog from the Ed Sale Guitar Company in Bradley
Beach, New Jersey, circa 1953. Some of the pages included were
the same as pages appearing above, which would indicate that one of
Carvin's early methods for reaching new customers was to partner
with other resellers, much the same as the way Carvin sold Fender
and Martin guitars in their early history.
On the left is an unusual lap steel, the Model #2 doubleneck.
Like other Carvin lap steels of the era, it was covered in a gray
metallic pearl plastic finish, with a plastic fingerboard. One
of the more unusual features of this model was the headstocks -
almost all lap steels of the era, regardless of manufacturer, had 3
X 3 or 4 X 4 headstock (for 6 or 8 string), but the Model #2, which
was an 8-string, and the Model #16, which was a six-string, had
inline headstocks. Other features include volume and tone
controls, ivory tuners, and chrome hardware.
#505 amplifier was a twin design, with a pair of 12" speakers.
It produced 25 watts, and had 4 inputs (1 mic, 3 instrument).
Like most amps of the era, the controls were pretty basic - volume,
tone and on/off switch. It was covered in the same gray pearl
plastic as most of Carvin's steel guitars from the early 1950s.
The Model # 205 guitar amplifier was similar to the Model #505, in a
single-speaker design. It produced 15 watts output, and had
the same electronics layout of the #505.
#20 amplifier was a smaller version, which produced 5 watts and had
an 8" speaker. It's controls were very basic, with a single
volume control and two inputs. Like most other Carvin amps
from this period, it was covered in a greay pearl plastic.
the source of this 1952 ad is unknown, it most likely appeared in a
guitar magazine or similar publication. Of note, the ad mentions a
free catalog, so that would seem to indicate that Carvin was producing
actual catalogs in the early 50's, not just the brochures shown above.