The railroad opened up the West to the music industry. Traveling salesmen for East Coast and Midwest manufacturers and distributors covered huge territories by rail.
Many smaller companies went out of business. Others began distributing instruments made by a fast-growing number of American manufacturers. Distributors often stenciled their own, better known, name on the smaller maker’s products. These were called stencil brands.
The business of importing and distributing musical instruments was centered in New York during this period. Companies used letters, small catalogs and traveling salesmen to sell their products. Some salesmen had such bad reputations that the industry issued policies of conduct to halt the “loose methods” of roadmen.
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