Re: My mystery Imperial mando
Mike E's never cranky, just succinct.
I think it has been "recognized" by several people as a Chicago-made early 20th century mandolin, manufactured for Jules Sahlein to sell out of that San Francisco distributorship. The big instrument manufacturers made instruments for many local and regional stores and distributors; Martin, the Larson brothers, Regal, Harmony, etc. all built guitars, mandolins, ukuleles etc. for large catalog sellers, franchise chains of music stores, and individual sales outlets. That's why you see Larson and Martin guitars marked "Southern California Music Co." , Weymann mandolutes marked "Keystone State," Harmony and Oscar Schmidt instruments marked "Silvertone" and sold by Sears. Same thing goes on today, as dealers order instruments from Asia with their individual nameplates on them.
"Imperial" may have been a house brand for Sahlein. William A. Cole, the Boston manufacturer, also sold "Imperial mandolins" (here's an article about Cole), but this one doesn't look like the bowl-backs he sold. Here's another "The Imperial" bowl-back, allegedly made in Cincinnati. The name "Imperial" also shows up on banjos made by Cole, and on other instruments, not associated with Sahlein.
The big Chicago manufacturers turned out thousands of student-grade and mid-priced instruments, plus a few top-of-the-line models. From appearances, this is a lower-end but still serviceable instrument, and that green bridge is really special!
Gibsn: '54 F5 3pt F2 A-N Custm K1 m'cello
Natl Triolian Dobro mando
Victoria b-back Merrill alumnm b-back
Stradolin Vega banjolin
Sobell'dola Washburn b-back'dola
Eastmn: 615'dola 805 m'cello
Flatiron 3K OM