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Elton Trademarked Logo [1] Leigh Arthur Elkington was born in 1884 and lived primarily in New York. He opened his first company and, ac...

L. A. Elkington and Elton Musical Products

The word Elton in an invisible oval shape
Elton Trademarked Logo [1]

Leigh Arthur Elkington was born in 1884 and lived primarily in New York. He opened his first company and, according to the 1920 census, was the owner of a metal goods business. The name "Elkington Co" first appears in 1927 and by 1946 the company was known as L. A. Elkington Co. He was successful and continued to expand and purchase smaller companies and product lines to bolster his brand. In 1927 he bought out the fife and flageolet merchandising and tooling from the Rudolph Wurlitzer company  [5]. A year later he purchased the Eventone Manufacturing Co, which included the patent rights to the Eventone Letter Violin Mute [6].

Elkington died in 1967, at the age of 85, but his company continued and was even an exhibitor at NAMM 1970 [2][9]. The company name was renewed in 1971 by a Jules N. Bloch and continued until it was dissolved in 1993 [3]. 

The Velazquez Family
1961 Copyright entry for a book by Luis Velazquez
on behalf of L. A. Elkington [10]

On May 20th, 2020 I was contacted by a descendant (and former employee) of the L. A. Elkington company who ran the company after Mr Elkington had passed. Patricia was incredibly generous and provided her family's account of how they came into ownership of the company.

The L.A. Elkington and Elton Musical Products Co. was inherited by my father, Erasto A. Velazquez, his brothers Nathan and Luis Velazquez and Frank Pocabradski. It was a God- send for them. As the story goes, it was during the Depression that my Uncle Luis Velazquez set out from Puerto Rico on his way to Chicago by way of New York. He landed In NY and decided to take a short job to make enough money to get to Chicago. The first day he went job hunting he saw a sign in a window asking for help in a musical instrument factory. Having a background in organ and piano he decided to try out for the job. My Uncle Luis played the piano for the first silent movie theatre in Puerto Rico. The sign read “Boy Wanted.” He took the sign off the door, went in and said to Mr. Elkington “I’m your boy!” Mr. Elkington liked his spirit, hired him on the spot, and Uncle Luis never left the job. He used the money he earned to bring the rest of the family to New York. 

Those he brought to Manhattan were his mother, brothers Nathan, Rueben, Erasto and his sister Ester. His mother soon died of Tuberculosis. His brother Ruben returned to Puerto Rico where he died in his twenties also of tuberculosis. Having no son of his own, Mr. Elkington took a paternal interest in Luis and little by little, gave him a lot of power over the company. Luis was not only musically inclined; he also had a great mind for figures and that stood him in good stead in the company. As his brothers got old enough Uncle Luis brought them into the company. It became pretty much a family business. Esther’s husband Carlos Rodriquez worked there and a man by the name of Frank Pocabradski later filled that role as foreman of the men working in the back on the machinery. My maternal grandfather, Juan Sotero, also worked there for a while.

 Mr. Elkington trusted my family because they were intelligent, hardworking and extremely honest people. As the years went by Mr. Elkington, spent less and less time at the factory and more time at his home in St. Petersburg, Florida. I remember the large crates of oranges, grapefruits, and kumquats he would send to us each Christmas. Mr. Elkington, did not have any children so when he died in 1967, he left the business to Luis, Nathan, my father Erasto, and Frank Pocabradski. The company had moved from the east 30s in Manhattan to a quiet neighborhood near the Grand Concourse in the Bronx and continued to do well. Our family thrived. My father moved us out of our tiny apartment in Brooklyn, New York to the suburbs, eventually adding a pool to our back yard.  

Luis was the president of L.A. Elkington and Elton Musical Products Company until he retired to Michigan, at which point, my father took the helm. Frank Pocabradski retired soon after Luis. My brothers Mark and Steven, my sister Valerie and I (Patricia) also worked there for short periods of time. Only our youngest sister Lisa never worked at the company since she was too young to work before the company closed. During the 1960’s there was a downturn in the neighborhood. By the 1990’s thieves were entering the factory almost every night stealing the precious metals used to make the instruments. It didn’t help that formerly imprisoned men were sometimes hired as factory hands. The Velazquez men wanted to give them a “fair chance” to make an honest living. Although my family tried to stop the robberies by all sorts of means it was in vain. So, in 1992, the L.A. Elkington and Elton Musical Products Company was forced to close its doors.

- Patricia Velazquez

Products

Where the name 'Elton' originated from is unclear but the brand was first used in 1915 and first appeared in retail in 1920 [1]. According to a 1971 filing with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, the Elton brand was used for "Musical Instruments, and Parts Therefor; And Musical Accessories-namely, Instrument Supports, Fasteners, Holders, Straps, Arm Rests, Head Guards, Capos, Megaphones, Gauges, Stands, Picks, Mutes, Twirling and Directors' Batons, and Carrying Cases Therefor, Reed Trimmers, Electric Reed Selectors, Cleaning Rods, Ligatures, Lyres, Music Racks and Clips, and Piano Tuning Hammers, and Pedal Extenders." 

Paper label from a tube of Elton nickel fret wire
A 1922 issue of the Music Trade Review discusses a circular distributed by C. Bruno & Son where they advocate for the value of Elton banjo resonators [4]. Following closely after were mutes for brass instruments which appeared in 1923 [2]. 


1935 Elton Tailpiece
Image Credit: VintAxe

Elkington also built spring capos for guitars using the L. Filstrup design which was patented in 1889 (and expired in 1906). His capos differed from the originals but not being made of solid brass but instead of stamped metal. He did, however, continue stamping the original patent date on the capo [7][8]. 

Sources

[3] https://appext20.dos.ny.gov/corp_public/CORPSEARCH.ENTITY_INFORMATION?p_token=B81C0DCF5BE68579BE57A42A5CCEA8474CB70B743D15832FCB3C39A4C7D7D95C5C2023CDD71D19C92CFBD33092F16E57&p_nameid=3637F0D4B4F54B50&p_corpid=5379364DEE09AE45&p_captcha=12769&p_captcha_check=B81C0DCF5BE68579BE57A42A5CCEA8474CB70B743D15832FCB3C39A4C7D7D95C5CA6CE17D3DFA9B9565413E2368C61E1&p_entity_name=%65%6C%6B%69%6E%67%74%6F%6E&p_name_type=%25&p_search_type=%43%4F%4E%54%41%49%4E%53&p_srch_results_page=0
[4] https://mtr.arcade-museum.com/MTR-1922-74-20/31/
[5] https://mtr.arcade-museum.com/MTR-1927-85-10/19/
[6] https://presto.arcade-museum.com/PRESTO-1928-2172/index.php?page_no=15
[7] http://acousticguitarcabin.boards.net/thread/450/elton
[8] https://patents.google.com/patent/US402577A/en?oq=us+402577
[9] https://books.google.com/books?id=dCkEAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA75&lpg=PA75&dq=L.+A.+ELKINGTON+CORPORATION&source=bl&ots=0DGiAPo2dU&sig=ACfU3U3ptn9YnYUO1twNWSdNzUYkZX3zFw&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwi60M2ouNvnAhXKK80KHSMJBg4Q6AEwC3oECAQQAQ#v=onepage&q=L.%20A.%20ELKINGTON%20CORPORATION&f=false

1 comment:

  1. My father Erasto Velazquez and his brothers Louis, Nathan and other family members worked for Mr Elkington. They eventually inherited the company. I would really be interested in purchasing an instrument or two, such as castanets, that were made by their company. Please respond to patingdai55@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete

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