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The baby boom showed no signs of letting up and “Boomers” were hitting high adolescence – prime guitar playing years.
Thus, guitars were blessed with the Midas touch, veritable gold mines guaranteed to swell the bottom line as large corporations sought to diversify.
The most detailed source for information on Burns guitars is The Burns Book (The Bold Strummer, 1990) by Paul Day.
The piano building thrived and Baldwin became the first American piano company to win the Grand Prix Award at the International Exhibition in Paris in 1900. Louis Exposition in 1904 and London’s Anglo-American Exposition in 1914.
The resulting gold rush yielded a number of strange bedfellows, with many guitar companies owned by conglomerates that may or may not have a clue about making and marketing guitars.
Most came down on the latter side: CBS (TV) bought Fender, Seeburg (jukeboxes) bought Kay, Norlin (beer, etc.) bought Gibson, Avnet (hotels? It was amid this corporate feeding frenzy that Baldwin guitars were born, the result of a collision between the quest for guitars and the fortunes of Burns guitars of London.
The Baldwin story goes back a bit further, to Cincinnati in 1862, when a reed organ and violin teacher named Dwight Hamilton Baldwin opened a music store and eventually became one of the largest piano retailers in the Midwest. In 1890, Baldwin decided to go into piano manufacturing and began building upright pianos.
Joining him as a bookkeeper in 1866 was Lucien Wulsin, of Alexandria, Kentucky. He passed away in 1899 and Wulsin took over the operation.
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In ’61, Lucien Wulsin III took over the reigns of the Baldwin empire, and by ’65 they were ready to jump on the guitar bandwagon.