The above picture is, as far as we know, the first "Club 40" model sold by Selmer UK...............and it very definitely isn't a Hofner !! It's a Straten Club 40.
Jo Van Straten was the manager of Selmer's London Charing Cross Road shop in the late 1930's/early 1940's. Immediately after World War II, Jo teamed up with a guitar maker called Dick Knight, and together they started producing archtop guitars under the Straten label, using a workshop in Bridle Lane, Soho, London.
Unfortunately, the business only lasted until 1948, at which stage Dick Knight went to work for the Selmer UK Company, which was being run by the brothers Ben and Lew Davies. Dick, under this new regime, carried on producing archtop guitars, although still under the Straten banner. The one illustrated above was named the "Club 40 Model". As this model name had not been used previously by the Straten company, one can only conclude that it was Selmer and the Davies brothers who decided on that name.
Also..............take a look at the tailpiece on the Straten Club 40 !! It has the name "Straten Compensator" stamped into it, and it is almost identical to the "Hofner Compensator" tailpiece that Hofner used on those guitars which they exclusively supplied to the Selmer UK a few years later from around 1954 onwards. That should be no surprise, as it was actually Lew Davies himself who designed the "Compensator" tailpiece back in the late 1940's - originally for fitting to the Straten guitars.
It would seem that, when Selmer UK were carrying out the initial negotiations with Hofner for the distribution of guitars in the UK and British Commonwealth, as well as insisting on specifying details for the guitar models (all-be-it based loosely on Hofner's current range), Selmer also insisted on choosing the names for the various guitar models, and having some of them fitted with the Lew Davies designed Compensator tailpiece. Presumably Selmer had these tailpieces made in the UK and shipped them out to Germany for fitting to the guitars.
Whilst deciding on the model names, Selmer obviously thought back to past models that had been sold by themselves, and hence the "Club" name was resurrected for the cute little Hofner semi-acoustic line.
So, if anyone tells you that they own a "Club 40", you can now totally confuse them by asking whether it is a Hofner or.......a Straten!!
For photos of the Compensator tailpiece fitted to another Straten guitar, CLICK HERE.
Another Straten archtop example has recently appeared, this time with a body label describing it as a Straten "Club 30 Deluxe". For photos of this guitar, CLICK HERE.
Straten Advertisements placed in 1947 "Melody Maker" publications
Post Script: Dick Knight subsequently left Selmer after a year or so, and eventually went onto to set up his own company. This is still successfully running. Click HERE to visit the KNIGHT GUITAR WEBSITE.