Within the Mahoney Music Collection, is a wonderful collection of illustrated Lyon and Healy catalogs.
The Lyon and Healy Company was started in 1864 in Chicago by George W. Lyon and Patrick J. Healy. They began with a sheet music store but soon expanded into instrument selling and manufacturing. In 1871, “Healy developed a new merchandising tool, a ‘picture book’ or illustrated catalog that went against the secret-price and sales-from-samples tradition of that era.” At the turn of the century Lyon & Healy was the largest music house in the world. During the 1970s, Lyon and Healy downsized their services and products to concentrate on their world-famous harps.
Information from the Media Room \ Lyon & Healy http://www.lyonhealy.com/press.htm (accessed 2012 June 5)
Catalogs can help identify an instrument while at the same time provide details such as specifications, prices, and types of material used in construction. They can show changes in styles and public tastes. They can also provide company history.
For more information on the research value of product, manufacturer’s, or trade catalogs, see How to Find Trade Catalogs in the Library of Congress http://www.loc.gov/rr/main/trade.html (accessed 2012 May 19) and Smithsonian Institution Libraries’ Trade Literature Collection http://www.sil.si.edu/tradeliterature/ (accessed 2012 May 19).