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Thread: Elias Howe circa 1897/1900 academy mandolin - need insight!

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    Question Elias Howe circa 1897/1900 academy mandolin - need insight!

    I have aquired an Elias Howe "academy" roundbacked mandolin. The label inside states "Elias Howe,Academy,Boston, Mass". I have a love of all stringed instruments. This is approx. 112 years old, and all original. I strung Her today ( probably the first time in MANY decades she was...), and slowly tuned to pitch. The mandolin sounds great, and the action is very good as well. I was concerned that upon stringing and tuning to pitch that the neck would bow or something making the action high-didn't happen! I am amazed at the Craftmanship and quality of materials that make this mandolin what it is. It is 100% loriginal, save for one screw that I put on one tuning gear. My questions are: how rare is this bird, and what is the approx. resale value? I can't figure out how to attach a photo, so if anyone can help, please email me, and I will send pics.I love her, but gotta let her go due to financial downtimes. Any info or feedback would be greatly appreciated!elkabbong57@comcast.net

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Elias Howe circa 1897/1900 academy mandolin - need insight!

    Bird is not so rare... what is rare is finding one in perfect condition. I hope you are using light gauge or even ultralight strings. The damage from standard gauge strings would not generally show up immediately but might over time. Here are a few from my files that have sold on eBay over the last few years. Perhaps one is yours?

    The Howe instruments of interest to collectors are the Howe-Orme mandolinettos sort of cylinderback and cylindertop ukulele body. These bowlbacks might be well-made but they don't get too much respect in the US. If it was in excellent condition, maybe worth a few hundred.

    The ones pictured here look like they were made by Lyon & Healy and resemble Washburns or American Conservatory mandolins.
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    Jim

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    Default Re: Elias Howe circa 1897/1900 academy mandolin - need insight!

    Hey Jim- Thanks for the info. I attached a photo of the front. I think this has been in storage for probably decades- It had 2 BLACK strings on it when I got it at a garage sale just last week. There apperars to be very little wear on the saddle, nut, and frets. I am surprised that this is not woth more than a couple hundred! If my research is correct, this was made after Elias died in 1897, when his sons and daughter took over the company, and they merged with Orme in about 1900. I woould be glad to send you more detailed pics if you wish. Thanks again for the feedback!
    Bruce

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Elias Howe circa 1897/1900 academy mandolin - need insight!

    Bruce:
    Your pictures did not upload. You need to click the "Go Advanced button". Then follow directions here.

    The Howe mandolins I have in my files resemble others -- they don't seem to be unique. Most American vintage bowlbacks do not sell for all that much, with the exception of a few brands like Martin, Vegas and upper-end Washburn. Also, many need work to make them playable, which also lowers the price.

    Believe me: I have a closet full of these.
    Jim

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    Playing lately:
    Ca. 1923 Washburn (L&H) Pro A -- Brentrup A4C -- 1915 Frank Merwin Ashley violin -- 1904 Embergher Type 3 -- 1937 Gibson L-Century -- 1939 Gibson L-00 -- ca. 1890s Fairbanks Senator Banjo

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