Royal 5721

Close-up #32: 1932 Royal SN 5721

Another fine guitar from the outstanding Epiphone collection of the Dutch Archtop Guitar Museum (and certainly not the last to be featured in this blog).

No doubt about the model here: "Royal" is engraved in gold script on the headstock, surrounded by vines between white "Epiphone" and "Masterbilt" banners. The headstock has a "rounded peak" shape – typical for mid-range Epiphone models of the 1930s: Only the high-end models had the asymmetric headstock

Royal 5021

Inside the body there is a label of the silver oval type, with stamped serial number "5721" – suggesting that the instrument was built in 1932. This is actually the lowest SN on a Royal model documented in our Registry so far. (Addition June 2017: An even earlier Royal example has just surfaced – SN 5119, likely made in 1931.)

Royal 5021

Below the Royal model in the 1932 catalog: It was listed as "auditorium size" – synonymous with a 15 1/2" wide body. With a price of $85 the Royal was positioned between the $125 Triumph and the $70 Blackstone. The 4-string tenor/plectrum version was named with equally aristocratic flair – "Regent". 

1949 catalog

The one-word sentence – "Mahogany." – obviously referred to the wood of the back and sides, both highlighted with sunburst shading on this example.  

Royal 5021

Epiphones typically had multi-piece necks, with one or more center-stripes of contrasting wood laminates. The tuners are the plain three-on-a-strip units seen on all lower models of the period. 

Royal 5021

Signature features of the earliest Masterbilts include the segmented f-holes, the curved fretboard end, the "reverse" wrap-over tailpiece, and the black, short, straight-shaped pickguard. 

Royal 5021

The Royal was a rather short-lived model: Still listed in the 1933 flyer (with price increased to $95), but phased out by the time the 1934 catalog was published; it was replaced by the $100 "Spartan", a new 16 3/8" model with a round soundhole. Due to the brief production period, Epiphone Royals are among the less commonly seen Masterbilt models: Only 15 examples are documented in our Registry so far. Although I am pretty sure this figure only represents a fraction of the total model production, I doubt that more than a hundred or two were made.

Royal SN 5721 came in a case made by the Geib & Schaefer company, identifiable by the embossed "single diamond" in the green lining of the case pocket lid, ...

Royal 5021 case

... not sure if this was the Auditorium Size Professional model with "Velvet" lining, listed in the 1932 catalog for $20.

1932 catalog cases

(Jan 6, 2017)