Thought I’d share a few pics and short story regarding my recently restored mandolin.
Earlier this year while searching Ebay for Weymann guitars and mandolins, a company my Great Grandfather Silvio Martucci made instruments for I came across a listing for a “RARE 200 YEAR OLD ITALIAN MANDOLIN made by S. MARTUCCI”. The mandolin was an old bowlback that had clearly seen better days but if it was what I suspected it was I didn’t care. I quickly contacted the seller who and requested a picture of the label for confirmation. The next day I was looking at a clear picture of my great grandfathers’ label.
Manufacturer and Importer of
Italian Mandolins, Mandolas, & Guitars
753 S. Eighth Street
In my grandmothers’ journal she stated that she had been born in 1904 at Eighth and Bainbridge where her father owned and managed a musical instrument shop making and repairing guitars, mandolins and violins. It was indeed an early Martucci made instrument. I quickly responded to the seller that it was not a rare 200 year old Italian mandolin but that it had been made in Philadelphia around 1900 by my great grandfather. Hoping she would use this information to either correct her listing or entertain a direct sale I waited for her reply. Not only did she refuse my generous offer but she did nothing to correct her listing, leaving me to bid against ill informed bidders. As surprised as I was at how high my winning bid reached and how many bidders there were was nothing in comparison to the surprise when the mandolin arrived two weeks later.
The thrill of holding this little treasure grew as I carefully cut open the box and unwrapped the shipping material … what I found as the last of the bubble wrap was removed was a disaster. The neck of the mandolin had been broken at the heel joint and was pushed down into the belly of the bowl. After overcoming the initial shock, and anger at the postal service for destroying a piece of family history I took a closer look, evaluating the damage and the chances of having it repaired. It was obvious that the mandolin was badly damaged prior to shipping and had been rather crudely glued together by a complete amateur for display (or deception) purposes only. The resulting claims and counter claims through EBay left me with two options keep the mandolin which the seller claimed had always been in fine playable condition, she even suggested I had purposely destroyed it, or return it for a full refund. I knew keeping it meant either gluing it back together and hanging it on a wall or spending a small fortune on a complete rebuild. Calling on my friend and luthier Eric Johansen we decided to restore it back to playable condition.
After months of waiting Eric finally delivered the finished project. Considering what we started with the results were better than expected. Not only does it look presentable but it truly has a wonderful sound that could now be enjoyed by future generations. Paired with my Great grandfathers’ guitar which was handed down through the family I’m now 1/2 way to completing my collection…. still need to find a mandola and a violin.