In 1922 in New York City, Neapolitan vacuum cleaner salesman Luigi D’Andrea stumbled across a sidewalk sale. There, he found mallet dies and sheets of tortoise shell colored cellulose nitrate plastic and purchased some. He took the materials home and punched out a few hundred 1″ flat hearts. A few days later he sold these hearts in a cigar box to the G. Schirmer & Son Company for $10.
By 1928, D’Andrea had semi-automated punching equipment that could imprint up to 59 different shapes in either celluloid or real tortoise shell. His son, Anthony, joined the company two years later and by the 50s and 60s was mass-producing private label picks for guitar companies. These personalized picks were popular among all crowds from local music stores to big name bands like The Beatles.
In the 70s, Luigi’s grandson, Tony, took over and grew the company to produce not only guitar picks but additional guitar accessories, straps, and care products as well. Tony also developed the various picks gauges still used today (thin, medium, heavy).
In the 90s, Charlie Lusso improved the imprint process with the invention of pad-printing. Today, the number of imprint dies in the D’Andrea archives exceeds 25,000. In July, 2012, Tony and his wife, Rosemary, retired and operations moved to their friend and business partner John J. DiMugno Jr. and his company, Delmar Products, Inc. Since then, DiMugno Jr. has expanded the D’Andrea business and now supplies guitar picks and accessories to Fender, Dunlop, and Ernie Ball, among others.
To learn more, visit D’Andrea’s website.