Check out this early Gibson mando on e*bay "The Only Known Prototype A-model by Orville H. Gibson"
"An early prototype, if you will, of the famous patent that changed mandolin and guitar building forever. There are no known examples of Orville's A model mandolin prior to recieving his patent in 1898. We believe that this is one. Since there is no date on it, all we have to go on are studies of the other earliest known examples, the patent documents, opinions of experts in the field and of course studying the piece itself."
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And now for today's weather....sunny, with a chance of legs
"Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe." - Abraham Lincoln