This is the place to ask Michael Messer and other forum members questions relating to National, Dobro and other resophonic musical instruments. Also questions and comments relating to National, Dobro, Supro, Valco amplifiers. No commercial advertising. To ask Mark Makin questions about anything in the Palm Trees, Senoritas & Rocket Ships thread, start a new thread in National Avenue
I may as well post this answer to my own question...found some info...It seems that the Webster Electric based National Shield stacking-cabinet amp is cited as originating in 1935, while the National Shield non-stacking model B is as late as 1938 (hence being dubbed “model B”).
I see a difference in cabinet covering guessing the white cow skin is earlier...since the tan matches the Model B...assuming the above is correct...though should never assume...
Hi Fred Here are the "National Shield" amplifiers as I understand it. 1. From 1933 through to 1935ish, they were using the dark brown amps with metal coverplates featuring chicken feet patterns in various sorts. These were made by Webster electric.
2. During early 1936, they changed to lighter brown amps with three green vertical stripes and green/silver pressed National logos.
3. Mid 1936, the first of the "shield" amps appears. This is the small amp that you found with the cream covering that splits into a "stacked" form. This is listed in the 1936/37 catalogue as a 110v AC amp of 15 watts. It is designed to split so that it can work as a Hawaiian guitar stand. Also with it is listed the same amp as a universal AC/DC version. It cost $75.
4. In the next years catalogue (1937/8), a "shield" amp is listed as the Model A - with vertical stripes in the covering. This is specifically marketed as an electric violin amp. It is described as a 10 watt, 110v AC, high gain amp.
5. The same year, the Model B was issued. This was an 18 watt, 110V AC amp ..."for all high gain electric instruments".
6. The Model C also appeared at this time. This was a small suitcase-type amp, 10 watt, 110v AC. It was listed as a "Silvo" amp which probably implies that it was intended for use with the Silvo range of electric tenor, lap steel and mandolin.
Hi Richard It is very difficult to be totally accurate about this. some sources say the early Lansing amps were "end of the LA period in 1933". Technically, the LA move to Chicago didn't happen for at least 12 to 18 months after this. Also, the Estralita has chicken feet by 1935 or so, so I'm afraid as long as we can get within a 12-18 month window, it is possible.
You could however, have a point about where the "chicken foot" idea comes from. It could easily be a design for these amp cover plates that distilled itself into a guitar coverplate design. On the amps, you may have noticed that some have a ring of 16 "feet" patterns, like the guitars, and some have 18 "feet" patterns.
Mark thanks for the information. I found an interesting article by Michael Wright that includes some information about National switching from Webster to Chicago Electric then back to Webster for the amplifier chassis due to reliability issues with Chicago Electric...
I saw one of the early 3 green stripe amplifiers last summer when visiting Fred Oster Vintage Instruments in Philadelphia, but never saw it listed for sale.