Triumph 55788

Close-up #27: 1946 Triumph SN 55788

Lots of nice wood there! Pictures of a classic, blonde Epiphone Triumph model I had saved over the years (no other affiliation).

The label inside the body with SN 55788 suggests manufactured in  1946.

Triumph 55788

The Triumph in the 1942 catalog proudly claimed to be the "most reasonably priced guitar in this new size". Well, the 17+" wide size was introduced in 1936, so not that new anymore ... The natural finish option was available by 1940. The catalog blurb proudly mentioned "genuine mother of pearl inlays". 

1942 catalog

However on this Triumph the "diamond" fret markers ...

Triumph 55788

... and the inlaid "fleur-de-lis" and Epiphone name on the headstock  are obviously not mother-of-pearl, but some kind of compound material – possibly celluloid. Epiphone introduced substitute materials for pearl on lower models by 1943 – I guess due to war-related shortages in genuine pearl inlays. Interestingly, the Triumph model lost its pearl inlays not before 1945 – just when the temporarily halted Emperor and DeLuxe models were reintroduced: It looks like in 1945 Epiphone had to reserve all available pearl inlay resources for the high-end models. By 1947 genuine pearl was again used on the Triumph, Spartan and Zenith models – with new, simpler design patterns.

Triumph 55788

The carved top appears to be made of Sitka spruce. The Frequensator tailpiece is lacking the "Frequensator" stamp – typically seen only on Epis that left the factory in 1946.   

Triumph 55788

The black, faux-alligator case looks to be made by the Lifton company.  

Triumph 55788

Below two photos of Triumph SN 55788 in its well-fitting case ...

Triumph 55788

Triumph 55788

... but note that in the second photo something looks wrong where the neck joins the body: Sadly, the guitar suffered a nasty shipping disaster! The pictures below suggest that a blow on the neck caused cracks in the neck block and sides.

Triumph 55788

Below we see the guitar body with the back removed – offering the opportunity to study the anatomy of the carved top. Note the different profile and angle of the two tone bars, both neatly tucked under the neck/end block and kerfing. This bracing pattern was used on all Epiphone archtops over the years.

Triumph 55788

Before cutting the f-holes, cloth strips were glued in at strategic places to prevent splitting along the wood grain. There is also a cleat at the bass f-hole, obviously a later repair of a small crack visible in the photo of the top further above.

Triumph 55788

The guitar was recently auctioned off in unrepaired condition. Hopefully a skilled luthier will be able to bring Triumph SN 55788 back to life!

Triumph 55788

(Dec 2, 2016)