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20th Century Guitar
Guitars Rule -- It's The New Yorker Hotel, Silly

August 2001
by Jay Scott



Link to 20th Century Guitar Magazine

figure I should write this before somebody else does. It's just a matter of time, you see; surely, sooner or later, someone else is going to notice that the mother-of-pearl ornament inlaid on top of D'Angelicos and early D'Aquisto New Yorkers, you know, the Art Deco-looking stair-stepped one that says "New Yorker" in it - isn't the Chrysler or Empire State Building. It's the New Yorker Hotel on 34th Street in New York. Get It? New Horker Hotel; D'Angelico New Yorker. In all candor, though, I can't take credit for this insight. In fact, it was a Chicagoan Randy Klimpert, a toy designer by trade and guitar enthusiast by choice, who, on one of his sojourns to New York City, made the observation and concluded that the crown jewel of D'Angelico's New Yorker is a representation of the New Yorker Hotel. I paraphrase: "I was walking west on 7th avenue near Madison Square Garden and as I walked along 34th street, right in front of me on the other side of 8th Avenue was the New Yorker Hotel. The it hit me like a diamond bullet (Have you ever noticed that whenever anyone has an insight or experiences a revelation it always strikes him or her in the head, as Marlon Brando noted in Apocalypse Now, like a diamond bullet? --Ed.): Wow, that's the inlay on top of the D'Angelico New Yorker!!"

   And he was absolutely right, ladies and gentlemens: the tiered, Art Deco borders cascading up (or down depending on your point of view) each side of the edifice; the blunted terrace on top that doesn't end in a spire a la both the Chrysler and Empire State buildings and finally and most compelling, perhaps, the Art Deco logotype that the maestro reprised exactly in the pearl inlay on top op his guitars. Did you know that a few New Yorkers from the thirties and forties utilize pearloid plastic instead of real mother-of-pearl for this inlay? Fred Oster of Vintage Instruments in Philadelphia had one; the pearloid material had begun to roll up out of its routing channel, making identification easy.

   Inspiration for the hotel and derivative guitar appointment seem to be Babylonian or Egyptian, the design elements of whose cultural artifacts were heavily appropriated during the Art Deco Era. But for fans of human sacrifice the perpendicular ziggurats of both can remind the observer only of the Temple of the Serpent at Chichen Itza.End

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