Frank Proffitt Mountain Dulcimer for Sale

SPhillips
SPhillips
@sphillips
4 weeks ago
2 posts

Banjimer:

After looking at your pictures once again, my best guess is that this dulcimer was made by Leonard Glenn.  The thick, stubby tuning pegs were pretty much a standard feature of Glenn dulcimers.  The preprinted interior label was most likely glued on by Leonard when the dulcimer was being built to identify it with Frank Proffitt's name prior to sale.  Ralph Lee Smith and others have documented the working relationship Proffitt had with the Glenns, and your dulcimer seems to verify that relationship with one of the surviving instruments.  Proffitt's popularity in the early 1960s on the folk festival circuit would have made a dulcimer bearing his name a desirable purchase for a young folkie.  It sure would be nice if we knew how many dulcimers were actually built by Frank Proffitt and how many were built for him by the Glenns.

In either case, the dulcimer is a part of dulcimer history, and it would be a fine addition to someone's dulcimer collection.

Thanks for the info!  The dulcimer has been sold and will be in a museum in VA.  Very happy that it will be displayed and have the love it deserves.

Banjimer
Banjimer
@greg-gunner
4 weeks ago
64 posts

After looking at your pictures once again, my best guess is that this dulcimer was made by Leonard Glenn.  The thick, stubby tuning pegs were pretty much a standard feature of Glenn dulcimers.  The preprinted interior label was most likely glued on by Leonard when the dulcimer was being built to identify it with Frank Proffitt's name prior to sale.  Ralph Lee Smith and others have documented the working relationship Proffitt had with the Glenns, and your dulcimer seems to verify that relationship with one of the surviving instruments.  Proffitt's popularity in the early 1960s on the folk festival circuit would have made a dulcimer bearing his name a desirable purchase for a young folkie.  It sure would be nice if we knew how many dulcimers were actually built by Frank Proffitt and how many were built for him by the Glenns.

In either case, the dulcimer is a part of dulcimer history, and it would be a fine addition to someone's dulcimer collection.

Banjimer
Banjimer
@greg-gunner
2 months ago
64 posts

It's hard to tell which Frank Proffitt dulcimers were built by Frank Proffitt and which were built by Leonard Glenn for Frank Proffitt to sell under his own name.  The interior label on your "Frank Proffitt" dulcimer adds some new intrigue to the mystery.  It's the first I've seen with a printed interior label.  Leonard Glenn's interior labels were usually written out by hand and not pre-printed labels, so the label inside your dulcimer could have been placed inside the dulcimer by Frank Proffitt after Leonard built the instrument. 

Either way, this dulcimer is a piece of history.  I own a similar instrument (without the interior label) purchased with an old case with a note written on the interior of the case indicating that the instrument had been purchased from Frank Proffitt in 1963.  I showed it to both Clifford Glenn and Frank Proffitt, Jr.  After looking it over, both sons claimed my instrument had been built by their father.  My instrument looks identical to yours.

As an interesting side note, I ordered a fretless banjo and a mountain dulcimer from Frank Proffitt, Jr. in about 2001.  When the instruments arrived, it was easy to tell that Clifford Glenn had actually built both of the instruments.  Frank, Jr. had glued one of his business cards over Clifford's name and address.  Frank Jr. may have decided he didn't have the time to build the instruments for me.  More likely, Frank Jr. ordered the instruments from Clifford Glenn and added his business card to the instruments prior to shipment.  That would be consistent with the business arrangement that Frank Sr. and Leonard Glenn had in the early 1960s.  In essence, the Glenns were the superior luthiers and the Proffitts were the superior musicians.

Either way, you have a valuable piece of dulcimer history.  Someone will be purchasing an instrument with a direct link to the mountain dulcimer's history in Watauga County.

 

SPhillips
SPhillips
@sphillips
2 months ago
2 posts

Frank Proffitt 3 string Mountain Dulcimer.  A piece of dulcimer history in good condition.  Tough to know the exact age but appears to be old enough to have been built by Frank Proffitt Sr or one of the Glenns.  Has a label inside that say simple Frank Proffitt Reese, North Carolina.  Strings are old and may be original.  The frets appear to be in good shape.  The back does have some cracking and I don't know if it's surface or through.  No apparent impact - probably due to age and temp variations.  It's hard to put a value on this instrument but feel free to make an offer.  It would be wonderful to see it go to someone that would play it since we don't.  Asking $600

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updated by @sphillips: 02/13/19 05:12:31PM