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H.L. Wild

H.L. Wild

by Paul Wyszkowski

Originally published in American Lutherie #7, 1986 and The Big Red Book of American Lutherie, Volume 1, 2000

See also,
“Out of the Basement” by Richard Bingham
“A Scene from Dickens” by Steve Curtin

H.L. Wild: A curiosity shop, a preserved bit of the past still alive in Manhattan. Not a museum display, not a movie set, but a place where the antiques on the shelves are for sale not as such, but as current merchandise. A real time trip.

See it while it is still here. Buy some hundred-year-old veneer. Or pull together a guitar or a mandolin set from the stock of vintage woods and parts. Or you may find that this is the only place in the whole world which still has a supply of a particular fret-saw blade. Who knows what you may find here? Come on down!

Betty Wild, who has recently celebrated her sixty-second birthday, is the third generation of the Wild dynasty. Her grandfather, William Wild, founded H.L. Wild (just “H.L. Wild,” no “Company”) at its present address in Manhattan in 1876. (Where the initials “H.L.” came from is not clear, but apparently at least part of the reason for choosing them was aesthetic: “H.L. Wild” fits the mouth nicely.) The original business manufactured and sold intricate wooden fretwork construction sets for models of buildings, churches, towers, and various decorative objects. Jigsaw puzzles were another major product. A copy of the 1876 catalog depicting the many different designs then avail­able leans against the glass of a display case behind the counter. Betty shows it with obvious pride.

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