WHEN Irene Cummiskey turned to Tuesday’s In Black & White, she nearly fell off her chair.
Staring back at her was a photo of the 1930s Swastika Orchestra (above left) from Echuca, including what she believes is the same unusual guitar that now hangs on the wall in her Corryong home.
“I looked at it and thought, ‘I’ve got that guitar in my lounge!’,” she says. “I almost died on the spot.”
Irene’s late husband, a professional guitar teacher, bought the distinctive guitar (above right) with its pearshaped body and seal-shaped sound holes in the 1970s from the father of a student.
Irene says her family knew nothing of its origins, but research has since revealed only six of its kind were made, and only one sent to Australia.
Irene’s son, Adrian, now plays the guitar, which has a nameplate reading “The Roy Smeck”.
Smeck was a famous American musician and guitar maker for the Harmony Company — he appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show and even played at Franklin D. Roosevelt’s presidential inaugural ball in 1933.
“We have seen pictures of others with the same shape and make, but none have had the nameplate with the maker’s name,” Adrian says.
The family would love to find out more, including the significance of the nameplate.
The guitar continues to entertain almost 90 years after it was apparently used by the Swastikas, who were named after what was then a symbol of good luck, before the Nazis’ rise forced a name change.
“It still sounds as good now as I presume it did in the 1930s!” Irene says.