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1975, Tom Peterson studies guitarmaking at Charles Fox's School of Guitar Research and Design in North Stratford, Vt.
1975, Todd Taggart works as model for Norman Rockwell.
Tom and Todd meet in 1977 while working at Stonegate Winery in Calistoga, Calif. Both have graduated from college with liberal arts degrees, with one business course taken between them.
In 1978 Tom and Todd scrape together enough $ to buy the inventory and mailing list of Bill Lewis' company, Lewis Luthier Supplies of Vancouver, Canada and move the stock to a rented warehouse (412 Moore Lane) in Healdsburg, Calif.
Lutemaker, Roger Sherron joins Tom and Todd and they begin The Luthier's Mercantile. They run the operation based on the adage: Tom and Todd wait for no man.
1983, Tom leaves to start a parts supply business, concentrating on kerfing . Operation now run on adage, If you have to ask, you don't know.
1984, Add computer to office, Roger falls for it and later leaves to work in the computer industry.
1985, John Curtis becomes partner. We begin importing Brazilian rosewood and other sustainable woods from special NGO projects.
Front page of the first price list of The Luthier's Mercantile in early 1979. From Left to right, Tom Peterson, Roger Sherron, and Todd Taggart. Tom and I were partners and formed The Luthier's Mercantile. Roger was a lute maker, and all around clever guy. He's responsible for the fretting system that's still in use by many.
Fall of 1982. Frank Fuller joins the crew. From left, Allen, Frank, Sue, Roger, Suzanne, Sue, Tom, Todd. Later this year I buy Tom out who then concentrates on kerfing and other products of wood.
Above, Tom sprays the ends of a walnut tree that was taken down where the current Healdsburg town hall stands. We bought the tree for $500, and let it lay in the "foyer" for at least a year before we processed it into smaller pieces.
Below, Spring of '83. Allen, Frank, Tom, Sandy, Karen, Roger, Todd.
Our tee shirts were said to enhance acoustical properties in instruments built while wearing them. The number of luthiers calling to say that the tee shirts looked too small forced us to add the parenthetical statement: " not shown actual size."
Left, our second catalog printing. Current Allied Lutherie logo is based on old logo. Design by Bret Buckman who at the time was working at the studio of David Lance Goines.
Above, from left, John Curtis, Richard Schneider , Mark Westcott, and Max Krimmel inspect Kasha bracing at Richard's studio. Below, John "SY" Curtis, below. He still shaves his beard on a sustainable and rotational basis.
Bill Lewis (Lewis Luthier Supplies) and Michael Gurian were best friends and together developed the above tuning machine. If I recall it had a 14: 1 gear ratio and was meant to compete with several of the sealed tuners on the market.
Above, Tom ("Kerf'n Tom" ) Peterson.
Tom Peterson in recent photo at our shop in Healdsburg. Tom still supplies the world with all kinds of kerfing.
Below, that's me feigning insouciance as Mary (child bride) tells me I forgot my lunchbox again.
Above guitar by G.W. Taggart, my great grandfather. Made toward the end of the 19th century. Tom Ribbecke repaired it in 1986. After that he joined our team and worked with us at The Luthier's Mercantile until mid-1994.
Roger's invention, the fretting system was featured in several ads.
Below, two of my three little 'uns backed by a shipment of sustainable yield lumber from Peru, known as the Palcazu Project. (Oldest son - not shown - born within month of starting The Luthiers Mercantile.) All documented in trip by John Curtis and Scott Landis (The Workbench Book, The Workshop Book). Also written up in the Guild of American Lutherie's quarterly.
The Luthiers Mercantile crew in 1985. In back Brazilian rosewood awaits resawing into sets. Left to right, Pat Raftery, John Curtis (partner at the time), Scott Bowman, Alexandra Alnikas, Allen Nishikawa, Tom Peterson (original partner), me (Todd Taggart), Frank Fuller (longest running employee; we still work together), Alex Martinez, and "Smitty" Smith.
1985, We buy the inventory or Hart Huttig's Allied Traders of Miami. The same year, we take over David Russell Young's business of making carbon fiber rods, as David goes into bow making. John, above photo, made the special saw we used for cutting graphite rods.
their daughter in California they often made the trip up from the Bay Area to spend the day with us at The Luthier's Mercantile. He had many great guitar stories, and entertained many a guitarmaker and player at his Castaways hideout on his property in South Miami, including Robert Ruck and Carlos Barbosa-Lima.
Photo at right, Rose Huttig, the Huttig's daughter, and Hart. Hart was a tireless guitar aficionado. His guitar supply company was more of avocation for Hart. As an employee of Pan Am Airlines (I think it was Pan Am) he traveled the world, and always found a way to visit the local guitarmaker(s). When the Huttigs visited
1986, Tom Ribbecke starts working at The Luthier's Mercantile, back in the business after a few years break to recover from excessive exposure to lacquer and other finish solvents. We revert to our old operating adage: Tom and Todd wait for no man.
Left, on this later price list, Tom Ribbecke stands proud next to a shipment of Indian rosewood that had just arrived.
Tom's in charge of product development and begins to build at the shop. He also teaches building courses.
1994, July, The owners of Theodor Nagel GmbH of Hamburg, Germany buy the assets of The Luthiers Mercantile and changed the company name to Luthiers Mercantile International. One might note that technically Theodore Nagel did not buy The Luthiers Mercantile, but the owners of Theodor Nagel did. I clarify this because during and for a period after negotiation stages the new owners did not want their involvement known. I stayed on as president until February of 2000. Both John Curtis and Tom Ribbecke went on to pursue other things, namely Tom builds great guitars, and John continues consulting and working on projects similar to the Palcazu Project.
1996 Healdsburg Guitar Festival . In late 1995, Tim Olsen of the Guild of American Luthiers and I talk about having a regional festival here in Healdsburg. I like the idea, and talk to Tom Ribbecke, and Charles Fox about it. They like it too. We talk to David Lusterman, publisher of Acoustic Guitar Magazine. He likes the idea, too. The Healdsburg Guitar Festival is born.
Below, at first festival, from left, Richard Prenkert , me, Mary, my child bride, and Sharon Isbin.
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