J.W. Whitlock

QUESTION:  Which of J.W. Whitlock's machines was once played for sitting President Richard Milhouse Nixon?
A)  Model A harp
B)  Model B harp
C)  Model 1 banjo
D)  Model 44 piano
ANSWER BELOW

You likely have never heard of a man named J.W. Whitlock; however, that is due more because of a disinclination to grab at headlines than it is because he lacked the innovative flair of peers such as Henry Ford and Thomas Edison. He also moved between projects such that his focus never lasted in one place for very long.  He created an electric starter for automobiles (he discarded it once he saw another had been installed in a car), he created an arcade game depicting a miniature horse race, but never bothered to patent it or produce many. It never reached a mass audience because he didn't want to devote the time to it. He also designed a boat for Henry Ford intended to traverse swampland. It was an early form of the fan boat. Although it never reached mass production, it did show Whitlock's understanding of water vessels.  He did reach people with his skills as a speedboat racer, making records that remain in place to this day.

His greatest legacy, as far as the American Treasure Tour is concerned, is associated with his design and development of an automatic harp machine.  He began work on it in 1899, and his relationship with these magnificent machines lasted for almost twenty years.  He produced around 1,500 harps for the Wurlitzer Company, who sold them across the country.  They were hugely popular for a number of years, providing elegant music for people wanting a quiet experience.  Now, they are considered one of the pieces in the great trifecta of stringed automatic musical instruments, alongside the Encore banjo machine and the Mills Violano Virtuoso.  The American Treasure Tour proudly displays all three in our collection.

ANSWER:  B)  Model B harp