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Thread: Favilla catalogs

  1. #1
    Weirdo a pizzico Eugene's Avatar
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    Default Favilla catalogs

    Do any of you catalog hounds have any from the early Favilla Brothers' NY shop (maybe 1890 - 1920 or so), especially any that might list or picture endorsers of their mandolins?

  2. #2
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Favilla catalogs

    I don't have any catalogs. Main source of info is this page. Perhaps contact Tom Favilla? Favilla is one of Mick's favorites. perhaps he has something.
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    Weirdo a pizzico Eugene's Avatar
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    Default Re: Favilla catalogs

    Thanks, Jim. Yeah, I'm familiar with that Catfish's Closet page. It's been up for years. I'd planned to drop Tom a line, but will probably do so sooner than later if nobody here has a Favilla catalog handy.

  4. #4
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Favilla catalogs

    I figured as much. I don't know if i ever saw a Favilla catalog.
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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Favilla catalogs

    Big Tom is as knowledgeable as they come regarding Favilla but I personally don't think he has a total handle on what the company was doing in the 20's and 30's. There should be more printed matter for this company around than there seems to be. I surprised at the lack considering the volume they had to be producing at one time. This was a decent sized manufacturer, not on the same order size-wise as Gibson, Martin, Harmony, or Kay but they seem to have put out a lot of instruments. Tom says they were manufacturing this instrument from the 20's but that they never manufactured them for anyone else. Does it look familiar? This coupled with a personal recollection on Mugwumps of a factory in NYC makes me suspect that Favilla built for at least one other other marketing company that just happened to be based in New York.
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    Weirdo a pizzico Eugene's Avatar
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    Default Re: Favilla catalogs

    Indeed. I've seen your posts on this before, Mike. The similarities are intriguing.

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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Favilla catalogs

    And there don't seem to be any Favilla catalog or catalog pages around. That is very surprising. They had to advertise them someplace.

  8. #8
    Weirdo a pizzico Eugene's Avatar
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    Default Re: Favilla catalogs

    Indeed.

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    Full Grown and Cussin' brunello97's Avatar
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    Default Re: Favilla catalogs

    Jim is right, I am a big fan of Favilla mandolins, I guess as much due to the family story and my correspondence with Big Tom who is a real gentleman and a fundamentally decent human being. But I have a general interest in east coast Italo-American builders in general. I have had a number of Favillas--flatbacks and bowls--over the years and my primary bowl these days is a very lightweight and resonant Favilla. A great mandolin. I guess I could serve as an early 21st century endorser.

    I have nothing by way of advertisements or catalogs, unfortunately. Do you mind me asking why your interest? Have you got one on your radar, Eugene?

    Mick
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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Favilla catalogs

    If you read the history of this company that is posted on the website with the total number of employees at certain times, you couple that with an apparent lack of catalog information of any kind, and honestly not a whole lot of instruments labeled as Favilla, it poses some questions. Yeah they are out there but they aren't real prominent. I've had a few in my hands, they pop up on eBay now and again. Now the big question I have is what were they building and where did those instruments go? I think that many of them are right in front of us but not labeled as Favilla. If they were selling primarily to the trade they wouldn't have needed the kind of advertising they would need if they were selling to a wider market.

  11. #11
    Full Grown and Cussin' brunello97's Avatar
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    Default Re: Favilla catalogs

    This is the only image I have in my files of a Favilla ad. I have it dated 1907. I recall seeing Favilla ukes in some catalogs, but don't remember them as having been produced by the family operation.

    Mick
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  12. #12
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Favilla catalogs

    Mick: Very interesting that there is a typo for the factory street name. I assume it should be Howard Street which would be around the block from the Grand Street store. Do you recall where this ad came from? Prob some Italian language publication directed to the Italian community? My limited italian translation abilities: does that say they specialize in Chitarre Battenti and would that refer to older style guitars? It also says (i think) that they import accordiions (armonische?) from Italy and germany?
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  13. #13
    Weirdo a pizzico Eugene's Avatar
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    Default Re: Favilla catalogs

    Yeah, chitarra battente is a wire strung guitar with origins in the baroque, but still used as a folk instrument. It would be interesting to see one by Favilla.

    I suspect Favilla supplied a fair number of anonymous instruments to the house-brand market starting in the pre-depression boom, but that's only suspicion. I have no idea how to recognize them beyond similarity to maker-labeled instruments.

    Knowing you as a Favilla nut, Mick, I was hoping you'd stumble across this chat. Thought about e-mailing you directly, but didn't have your e-mail handy and would have to dig for it. I bit on the 52-rib Favilla at Oster's shop. Fred said he'd be packing it up and shipping it to me by this morning. The piece has some hallmark of being built, not for show, but for a player: in spite of being relatively ornate, their is no gaudy decor in the fingerboard, but the fingerboard has practical position markers along the edge. The pearl in the scratchplate is engraved "M.V.B.," and (assuming those to be initials) I'm itching to know who that might have been. I've written to Tom Favilla, but don't yet have reply.

    Do you mind sharing a few images of your own Favilla(s), Mick? If you don't like posting them publicly, you're always welcome to write directly. (Let me know if you'd like my address and don't have it.) I suspect you may have posted some images here already, but I've been on a pretty long cafe hiatus and would have missed them.

  14. #14
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Favilla catalogs

    This thread has pictures of a Favilla tenor guitar with the name of the original owner engraved on pearl on the peghead.

    A couple of pictures of one of Mick's Marca Aquila with EKO on the peghead.

    I know there are many other references throughout these forums.
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  15. #15
    Weirdo a pizzico Eugene's Avatar
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    Default Re: Favilla catalogs

    I've at least seen those couple and I think a couple more around the cafe, Jim. That "...of note" thread is simply so huge...

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    Full Grown and Cussin' brunello97's Avatar
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    Default Re: Favilla catalogs

    Bravo, Eugene. I have rubber-necked that mandolin a few times. It is lovely, particularly the white bordering. Jim, linked to a couple pictures of mine, but I can send/post some more when I get home. The 'Eko' headstock has always been a mystery to me. The mandolin is obviously much much older than the Italian post-war guitar company. Tom F wrote me that there was "another" Eko operating back in the '10s-'20s that the family did business with, but was short on any further details. I also had a pretty maple bowled one for a long time but we decided to part.

    Can't wait to hear more about yours, Eugene. I've got Dogals on mine and it sounds great. Do you still have your Martin?

    I have heard chittare battenti on recordings and really enjoy the shimmering sound, though wonder how jarring that might be in person. Eug, have you ever played one? I haven't seen any Favilla made ones either.

    Jim, fisarmonica is generally used for accordions. Armoniche refers to harmonicas in my experience, but I'm a lot newer than this ad. Don't know if I have seen any Italian made harmonicas, though they would be far off my radar.

    Mick

    Mick
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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Favilla catalogs

    I also know fisarmonica for accordions. Google translate does not know what armoniche means. i did a general search for the term and got a Wikipedia-Italy entry for harmonic as in musical term.

    Eugene: that is why I linked just to Mick's mandolin pics.
    Jim

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  18. #18
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Favilla catalogs

    It has nothing to do with what Eugene is looking for but here is a catalog page with a Favilla uke from 1956-57.
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  19. #19
    Weirdo a pizzico Eugene's Avatar
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    Default Re: Favilla catalogs

    I've been through more than one Martin, but still have that main one-of-a-kind, yes. It's my only Martin at the moment. The old guy's frets are really just about done, and the headstock joint that has been problematic since before my acquisition went really problematic in the last couple years. It finally seems solidly repaired, but its failure did some pretty substantial peripheral damage too. ...And the instrument's age and one-of-a-kind status gives me a little stress every time I take it out of the box to play. Problem is I haven't found any piece I like as well yet.

    I do have a new commission pending from a local luthier about which I'm also excited. It's been a long time coming (I placed the order, I think, around two years ago), but he's finally getting a substantial start on it. I'll share more details as they materialize.

    I've never played chitarra battente, Mick, but I do have a few early-music recordings to feature them. Their invention sometime in the baroque appears closely linked to the development of the very earliest mandolins (at least in the tuning and format we've all come to think of "mandolin" in modern times). I've also handled a couple - few in collections, but none were to pitch.

    ...And danke, Jim and Mike.

  20. #20
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Favilla catalogs

    The only other place I can think of that might have further info is NAMM. They have a whole library of catalogs from various eras and seem quite willing to share info.
    Jim

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  21. #21
    Weirdo a pizzico Eugene's Avatar
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    Default Re: Favilla catalogs

    Thanks for this lead, Jim. Do you have a specific contact at NAMM?

  22. #22
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Favilla catalogs

    I was bidding against a guy years ago and it turned out that he was busy buying things for their library. He graciously coopied some mandolin pages and other things I was interested in.

    According to their web site:

    About the Library & Resource Center
    Established in 1946 when NAMM was only 45 years old, the NAMM Resource Center provides its Members, the media, academic researchers and the general public with access to historical data about this great industry.
    Drawing on more than a century of NAMM research, records and archives, the Resource Center has access to everything from statistical records on retail music products sales to videotaped interviews with more than 1,000 of the people who have shaped this industry's history. The broader scope of the collections is the history of the music products industry. Within that broader scope, materials are categorized into five main subject categories: NAMM History, Manufacturer History, Retail History, Music History (especially as it pertains to instrument and product innovations) and Legacy Collections.
    We hope you find what you're looking for right here, but if you have any questions, please contact us at 760.438.8001 or via e-mail at library@namm.org.
    Jim

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  23. #23
    Weirdo a pizzico Eugene's Avatar
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    Default Re: Favilla catalogs

    Thanks, Jim. ...And here's some word from Tom Favilla:

    Eugene,
    There is not much information I can offer you. That bowlback mandolin was the top of the line. The FAB designation was used in the late teens to about 1925. No record of Favilla endorser's was kept and any advertising literature from that era is pretty sparse. The mandolin looks like it is in terrific shape. Good luck with it.

  24. #24
    Weirdo a pizzico Eugene's Avatar
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    Default Re: Favilla catalogs

    In case anybody is interested, here is the piece in question (photo courtesy of Vintage Instruments, Inc.):
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    It is off to my buddy Chad's shop for some very minor restoration work.

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