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Carl and August Larson were Swedish immigrants who went to work for the Robert Maurer Company just before the turn of the century. Maurer was a music teacher in Chicago who established the Maurer Instrument Company, but it is not known whether he actually built instruments himself. In 1901, August Larson took over the company as president, with himself and Carl as the only two employees. They kept the Maurer name, but built instruments under the names WLS, Dyer, Euphonon, Stahl, and Prairie State, as well. Their two-person shop produced an amazing number of instruments, although their total output was, of course, small in comparison to that of the big companies, so there are not many Larson brothers instruments available today. Most of these tend to turn up in the Chicago area.To my knowledge, the Larsons made mandolin-family instruments and guitars almost exclusively, although they made some tiples, harp guitars for the Dyer company, and three prototype electrics custom-ordered by Les Paul in 1934. I have seen only one catalog of Maurer and Prairie State instruments, which dates from the early ’30s, offering a line of mandolins and flat-top guitars as well as detailing several of the unique features of their construction. Larson guitars were among the earliest actually designed for steel strings.
In 2007, the Larson Brothers brand was sold to Toni Gotz. He and Roman Zajicek, a luthier from the Czech Republic, built models based on the original Larson guitars. Then he met Maurice Dupont, a French luthier who wanted to remake the guitars. Beginning in 2013, Dupont’s company built Larson model guitars in Boutiers Saint Trojan, Cognac, France.