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View Full Version : c.1910 Ditson "Empire" Bowlback Mando



Jake Wildwood
Nov-11-2013, 8:27pm
Finished this guy up last week -- been having fun toying with it now and then in the shop. Either way -- I love how understated but classy these things are.

More info at the blog post. (http://antebelluminstruments.blogspot.com/2013/11/c1910-ditson-empire-bowlback-mandolin.html#more)

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-KXgdR8xQ9qI/Un1fFX5kpGI/AAAAAAAApzU/YaHJX_WqVZY/s1600/ditlin-1.jpg

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-qZGCIZszI78/Un1fImus8MI/AAAAAAAAp0U/EYVTnwVq3G4/s1600/ditlin-2.jpg

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-hmKMuNpjoD4/Un1fFi1rNLI/AAAAAAAApzY/m1cdww3G_0w/s1600/ditlin-10.jpg

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-H1Kn446nl0c/Un1fLb-qgiI/AAAAAAAAp1E/4QkuV4NwE7w/s1600/ditlin-8.jpg

brunello97
Nov-11-2013, 8:59pm
Nice work, Jake. I've got one of these in minty condition and agree whole heartedly with your assessment (of looks and sound.) Somewhere--nice--between Chicago and Italy. The RW headstock overlay on yours looks edible.

What strings do you have on it? Just put some Lezners on mine and am in dreamland again.

Your blog suggests you think it a Larson product. Hmmm. Some follow up questions then:

Is there a SN on the brace north of the sound hole? If so, can you read it?

My Empire has a SN located there, as does my Ditson labeled flat back, which is identical to the two Leland flat backs I have (a model which has also passed through your hands....) The Lelands have the SN there as well.

This, naturally, has me thinking the Empires (at least these....I know there were a number of 'Empire' labeled models) and the Lelands were made by the same shop, i.e. LarBros (based on Keef's Washburn and Bob Hartman's Larson books.) Bob has a list of SNs in his book but it is a pretty chaotic mash up of information and speculation. Left me wonderin', as NY said.

Jim G had me leaning towards Vega (mostly based on bridge / cant position and general overall minimalist vibe.) Those Louisville Slugger neck profiles also hint to Vega for me. As does the back of headstock to neck detail--prominent on yours. But Vega put their SN's on the end of the headstock. At least on their own mandolins.

I'm right with you on the Mayflower / Empire similarosities.

You are my only other buey who has the interest or experience with these. What do you think about the Vega / LarBros attributions? (Does it even matter? These have an absurd quality / price ratio.)

A lot of questions, amigo, but I'm trying to buttonhole you on this....

Mick

Bob Clark
Nov-11-2013, 9:54pm
This one's a real beauty, Jake. Thanks for posting it. Mick, I always enjoy your comments and speculations about bowlback history. Thanks also to you.

Best wishes, Bob

Tavy
Nov-12-2013, 3:51am
Looks sweet, if it sounds Vega-esque as Mick suggests then I'm sure you're in bowlback heaven! :)

Jake Wildwood
Nov-12-2013, 12:06pm
I used to think these were solidly Vega instruments. After having handled a lot of Larson instruments in the past year+, though, I'm now pretty sure these are Larson products. The Vegas are VERY, very similar especially with the vague cant/bridge location on each of these makes. They also sound VERY VERY similar (ie, GOOD!).

The difference between a mandolin like this (Empire/Mayflower/etc) is that its build is about 50% heavier than most Vegas (Larsons tend to be heavier, too), the neck joint area is different from Vegas (but similar to other vetted Larsons), and the volute is actually a little more pronounced than the Vega volutes I've handled (though many Vegas don't have volutes).

...and yes, it has 8037 stamped in that Larson-style (as on LeLands and Stahl mandos) on the upper soundhole brace.

Jake Wildwood
Nov-12-2013, 12:08pm
I forgot to answer the "does it matter?" -- question -- no, both Vega and Larson bowlbacks = the best of the American makes, hands down. Either way, you're at similar price points and the same quality. The Vega necks are ever so slightly slimmer than the Empire/Mayflower/Larson necks.

brunello97
Nov-12-2013, 10:53pm
Looks sweet, if it sounds Vega-esque as Mick suggests then I'm sure you're in bowlback heaven! :)

They really are nice mandolins, John. If we can get one over your way that would be great. I'd love to hear your diagnostic on it.

Thanks, Jake, for your take on these. You've probably seen these Empire ads. Unfortunately, the one with model types is low-res. I haven't seen any of the higher end Empires. Ditson didn't make things easy on us. I have a Martin made Ditson Empire bowl in my files as well. The "Conquest" and "Victory" models look like they were made by someone else altogether.

"Empire", "Conquest", "Victory"? What did folks have on their mind back then? I guess this was just post Spanish-American War so it was in the air. Makes me think of those poor folks over in the Philippines right now. I've got an Empire mandolin (named in their honor, I reckon) and they have a 195 mph typhoon. :( Time to send some pesos over their way.

Mick

Jim Garber
Nov-12-2013, 11:53pm
Ditson was in Boston, tho they were associated with L&H. I just wonder why the Larsons would suddenly make mandolins with the bridge in a different position for one dealer? I still think Vega but could be convinced otherwise.

BTW I love Dogal Calace Dolces on my Vega and hope to put them on my Pettines whenever I can get them playable.

Graham McDonald
Nov-13-2013, 1:39am
Here is a larger Ditson ad from The Crescendo, April 1910, which is about the time when Ditson started to market the Empire line as far as I can tell. There were advertising continuously in the Cadenza and The Crescendo before that, but only for their sheet music. I think Ditson got out of the building business in 1903 when John Haynes retired and the Bay State models that the Haynes company was building seemed to have been discontinued. As to who built the Empire brand, I will defer to those with their hands on many more of than than I have seen.

Mick, If that low-res Ditson ad was from the Cadenza or Crescendo I may have a better copy if you know the aprox date

cheers


109338

brunello97
Nov-13-2013, 8:36am
Thanks, Graham, that is much more legible. It's interesting that the two ads seem to use the same images of the mandolins in different 'paste ups'. I snagged that image off of an ebay sale ad but will try to track down some more specifics.

I'm not sure I follow you on the 1903 date viz Ditson.

"....I think Ditson got out of the building business in 1903 when John Haynes retired and the Bay State models that the Haynes company was building seemed to have been discontinued."

My understanding is that Ditson contracted work out (or bought and relabeled other lines they felt marketable.) Is it your thinking that prior to 1903 they were building mandolins themselves - through a subsidiary - Haynes? The Leland line was post 1903 (`'11, I think) as was their work with Martin flatbacks for instance.

Thanks!

Mick

brunello97
Nov-13-2013, 8:54am
Ditson was in Boston, tho they were associated with L&H. I just wonder why the Larsons would suddenly make mandolins with the bridge in a different position for one dealer? I still think Vega but could be convinced otherwise.


Thanks, Jim. I'm torn on this, myself. Your questions are good ones. For me, the SNs on the Lelands and Empires (don't know where they are on the Mayflowers) are the smoking gun (to me at least) that they were made by the same folks -- whoever that might be. Of course this might be a red herring, but it would need some further explanation.

That L+H would market a line of Vega made instruments (Leland) and Ditson would relabel some of them certainly makes a much sense as anything. (Which means either a lot or a little, one.) The Leland design pretty much came and went, with later L+H and Vega flatbacks having an altogether different design.

Bob Hartman and Keef Pleijsier both link the Lelands (and by SN inference, the Empires) to the Larsons, but I remain uncertain, though feel I have to listen to Jake's experience as well. The LarBros would have had to be cranking out a ton of instruments in their shop have made everything attributed to them.

The thing that makes me queasy about all the LarBros attributions is that the mandolins body shapes all look so different on the instruments supposedly emerging from their shop. You can tell a Ditson Labeled Martin from others because it looks like a Martin. They must have used the same molds, etc. A similar conversation about body shape has helped us discern Regal v Schmidt made flatbacks as well.

For awhile I was entertaining the thought that the LarBros might have done certain detailing, inlay, and finish work for L+H on instruments they either made or jobbed in. No real information to back that up.

Jake is one of those affable but tight-lipped Yankees. ;) I really enjoy it when he lays out what he has learned from his repair/restoration work. (That's a hint, Jakito....) Any more detail or photos you have time to share on this topic would be greatly appreciated, amigo.

Mick

Jim Garber
Nov-13-2013, 9:08am
Thanks, Jim. I'm torn on this, myself. Your questions are good ones. For me, the SNs on the Lelands and Empires (don't know where they are on the Mayflowers) are the smoking gun (to me at least) that they were made by the same folks -- whoever that might be. Of course this might be a red herring, but it would need some further explanation.

All interesting questions/observations that everyone had brought up. Mick, I would think that a structural change like positioning the bridge on the tailpiece would be more trouble that merely putting the serial number in a different place. The latter is more cosmetic whereas to me the bridge placement is more the smoking gun.

I think that the key to all of this and getting us close to an answer would be to closely compare examples of all the makers in question and matching features as bets we can. Catalogs are also helpful, of course, but that can also be deceptive.

brunello97
Nov-13-2013, 9:46am
All interesting questions/observations that everyone had brought up. Mick, I would think that a structural change like positioning the bridge on the tailpiece would be more trouble that merely putting the serial number in a different place. The latter is more cosmetic whereas to me the bridge placement is more the smoking gun.

I think that the key to all of this and getting us close to an answer would be to closely compare examples of all the makers in question and matching features as bets we can. Catalogs are also helpful, of course, but that can also be deceptive.

I agree, Jim. That is why Jake's post had me thinking again (as I was also comfortable with the Vega attribution.)

I'm with you on the bridge placement issue, but also know that sometimes can be a bit of a red herring given the vagarities in actually making something, the location of that cant line is mutable. It shows up on a few Schmidt mandolins I have had -- that they varied quite a bit as to where that cant actually was made -- and hence where the bridge wound up. Same thing with some Neapolitan bowls I have owned. Vega does seem consistent in their design / implementation. But I wouldn't be comfortable at all using the bridge location alone to attribute something to them.

I wouldn't treat the SN location as cosmetic, though. It is part of a system of making, and would have had to have been located before the instrument was closed up rather than after the mandolin was constructed as in the Vega end-of-headstock location.

(Similarly with Gibson, with FONs going in first -- during construction -- and labels and SNs going in after.) Maybe they fished their stamp / marker in the sound hole to mark that brace after the fact but seems like very fiddly work for a company known for its crisp design thinking.

Certainly Vega might have kept a separate set of SNs and deliberately located them in a location so as not to be confused with their own system. That kind of production (not cosmetic) practice makes complete sense to me. All the vague "LarBros Traits" stuff boggles my mind sometimes.

Time for Jake to weigh back in....

Mick

Jim Garber
Nov-13-2013, 11:11am
I wouldn't treat the SN location as cosmetic, though. It is part of a system of making, and would have had to have been located before the instrument was closed up rather than after the mandolin was constructed as in the Vega end-of-headstock location.

I do see your point about the SNs, Mick.

I just checked my files for all the Maurer and Stahl bowlbacks but none as far as I can tell have the intentional positioning of bridge on the tailpiece side of the cant. I can imagine that the mandolin supplier could have changed their SN positioning or method of marking at the request of Ditson for an adequate quantity of mandolins ordered but I would think it would be less likely that the Larsons (or any other non-Vega maker) would change their manufacturing style of the scale intonation or that Ditson would request such a thing to begin with.

I know this is not a deciding factor either but only one or two of the Larsons I have in my files have the open headstock. That also would be merely a cosmetic concern.

For more info: I wonder, Jake, if it is possible to post a pic of the butt-end of this mandolin?

Jake Wildwood
Nov-13-2013, 11:19am
My thoughts:

1) Bridge location is debatable. On the Empires/Mayflowers it's been sort of "straddling" the bend rather than 100% behind it or 100% in front of it. I'm guessing this is because production tolerances weren't perfect and the scale lengths may have just been changed on the boards here and there as the years progressed. Vegas are usually clearly placed behind the bend. But... that's not always the case. Take for example this very early Vega:

http://antebelluminstruments.blogspot.com/2012/03/c1895-vega-bowlback-mandolin.html

Also note that this Vega's bridge is "straddling" like the Empire/Mayflowers, too:

http://antebelluminstruments.blogspot.com/2009/09/c1917-vega-bowlback-mandolin.html

2) Heel cuts are distinctly different. While this isn't a true indicator it suggests that the necks weren't typically Vega in origin:

Typical Vega-style heel -- note the slope into the bowl:

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-yLL9RZi6VlE/UK_KXWvibFI/AAAAAAAAd7I/guAnS75ORZI/s1600/vebo15.jpg

Typical Empire/Mayflower-style heel -- note the straight line into the bowl:

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-xeFc-SA92x8/Uai2fwEmfLI/AAAAAAAAk_8/8Xm5hk1qYXY/s1600/siegel-13.jpg

3) Headstock thickness/cut. This changes from mandolin to mandolin but per the same style of open-top, enclosed-tuner headstock, the Empire/Mayflowers tend to be a good bit thicker and heavier while the Vegas I've handled tend to be lighter and more fragile.

Vega headstock:

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_0K70sLCgQbE/SU71zsCMF_I/AAAAAAAAANk/eTRgKH7bMrs/s1600-h/vega03.jpg

(for some reason this image wasn't working, click here for a direct link (http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_0K70sLCgQbE/SU71zsCMF_I/AAAAAAAAANk/eTRgKH7bMrs/s1600-h/vega03.jpg))

Ditson headstock:

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-oBVMUdzmvNw/Un1fJDgmB6I/AAAAAAAAp0c/IFDTOOxmLNU/s1600/ditlin-3.jpg

3) Neck thickness/cut. Vegas, across the board, have had smaller (front to back) necks, though the string spacing and width at the nut has varied from smaller to just as wide as the Empire/Mayflower products. This is carried over to Vega's later flatback/canted-top instruments vs. Leland instruments which have wider (side to side) and deeper (front to back) necks which is indicative of Larson mandos.

4) Overall weight. If you compare and contrast overall weight of mando builds, the Empire/Mayflower instruments are definitely heavier overall per the same sort of design/model. This also carries over to the later flatbacks where I find a similar Vega instrument a few degrees lighter-weight in comparison to a similar Larson-credited (Leland or Stahl) instrument.

5) Those serial numbers. When you add those into the differences category, this is what sort of does it for me. They're stamped in exactly the same way, font, pattern that other Larson-credited instruments have been stamped.

6) Finish. I'm adding this part in an edit, but the finish also has reacted differently over time: on many of the Empire/Mayflowers the finish is often alligatored a little bit or at least quite weather-checked. This is something I find very rare (if at all) on the Vegas I've handled. This suggests a different finish or at least slightly different process.

In conclusion, I totally agree it doesn't make 100% practical sense that Ditson would contract out to a midwest maker but, come on -- let's face it -- folks did that all the time! Harmony, Regal, and Kay products traveled EVERYWHERE as did Oscar Schmidt (New Jersey) products and we also have to face the fact that even Martin and Gibson products were rebranded and shipped all the heck over the place to various retailers for their own purposes. Besides, not all of Ditson's customers were all east-coast anyhow... weren't they a national powerhouse in terms of retailing?

Jim Garber
Nov-13-2013, 11:30am
Thanks, Jake. I will take a good look at all of this evidence. BTW I do not think the Chicago-Boston connection is all that far-fetched since there was a relationship between L&H and Ditson.

Jake Wildwood
Nov-13-2013, 11:39am
Roger-wilco -- but you know, I was thinking along the same lines, though: why would they bother to go out of the NE? My guess would be better cost per unit.

I didn't want to change my opinion on these guys as Vega builds but I've had that nagging feeling all year since I've been handling more Larson-attributed instruments and keeping notes in the back of the brain. That doesn't mean I'm right, though. :)

Jim Garber
Nov-13-2013, 12:15pm
Unfortunately, the only Larson bowlback I have is my Rohlfing/Maurer. That one has a sort of collar on the neck joint.

I will have to photograph the neck join from the side to see what it really looks like, but it does not abruptly end like the Ditson you picture above. It is actually closer to the Vega. I think these Larson Brothers were trying to mess around with us. :)

BTW Jake, have you worked on many Vega artist models? I have two Pettines and they are somewhat heavier than the std line.

Jake Wildwood
Nov-13-2013, 2:44pm
Nope -- I've only worked on a handful of fancy Vegas -- and weight can definitely change a lot depending on ornamentation and woods used as well as hardware, for sure. I've only had a few occasions where I've had both a Vega and assumed-Larson of similar style in the shop at the same time and that was just my impression. If I were smarter I would take measurements of all the instruments that pass through, but -- oh my -- what a chore!!!

Graham McDonald
Nov-13-2013, 4:06pm
Mick

The John C Haynes Co was the instrument manufacturing arm of Oliver Ditson, run as a separate business through the 1880s-90s, making Bay State brand instruments amongst others. When John Haynes retired in 1903 after working for Ditson since he was 15 or so, the Oliver Ditson Co (which was by that time being run by his son Charles) got out of the manufacturing side and sold the build to Vega. Certainly none of the ads running in The Cadenza after 1903 mention instruments at all, only the publishing. It is not utill 1910 the the Empire brand mandolins and guitars appear and are around until the early 20s. All the illustrations of mandolins are bowl backs and later banjo mandolins, so a flat back Empire is interesting. A pic perhaps?

Jake points out the subtle differences in construction between Vega and Ditson. I think maybe the crucial difference in the neck join. I would really think that any factory would develop a consistent methodology for that join, whether it is that slight flair at the end of the neck on the Vega, which would have determined the size and shape of the neck block and meant cutting the neck block and rib ends off at a particular spot. The bridge positioning is puzzling as Vega was unusual in placing the bridge behind the cant and the bridge would always be in a definite position a set distance from the 10th fret body join.

I wouldn't read too much into a relationship between Ditson and Lyon & Healy. Apart from Ditson's seed funding in the 1860s, I have found nothing to suggest any entanglement of business activities, other than L&H selling Ditson's music.

I am wondering about Jake's aggregation of Empire and Mayflower mandolins. I had always though Mayflower was a line of Chicago and/or Neapolitan built mandolins sold by Harry Flower in Chicago for a few years before 1905 or so, some years before the Empire brand appeared.

All my research stuff is at home, so I can check things this evening

cheers

brunello97
Nov-13-2013, 8:58pm
Thanks, Graham. Sorry for any confusion. I was referring to Ditson labeled flat backs that are not part of the Empire bowlback group(or the greater Hegemony Series as I call them.) I have two L+H Leland mandolins that are identical to the Ditson--same materials, construction, size, bracing, SN location, finish. etc.

At the moment, I'm just trying to tie together the those Lelands, these particular Ditson flat backs and at least Jake's and my Empire bowl. Whether they are Vega or LarBros, I'm wide open to the discussion.

Which happens to be a pretty great one. I've been waiting to get Jake, Jim and now Graham in on this conversation for some time now, so muchos thankamos for participating. Jake, that post was awesome. It will take some time to digest. How I wish we all were sitting around a (well lit) pub pulling these mandolins out to compare and converse!

The direction of the conversation towards details and construction system logics is helpful. The Vega / Empire neck details are very different.

But Jim's question "why would somebody change the body / scale length dimensions just because they were jobbing out some work. And why would Ditson specify just that?" is a good one. I'd add to that "Why do some many 'Larson' mandolins have different body shapes? How many molds or forms did they have around?"

Were they shipping molds around? You can imagine a firm the size of L+H doing that as they bought/sold other companies and got in and out of the fabrication business. Wouldn't hazard a guess though about others.

Martin-made / Ditson labeled bowlbacks and flatbacks look just like Martins (their bowlbacks form is as unmistakeable as their flat backs.)

The Mayflower (at least some of them) / Empire similarities are likewise too close to not be from the same house, in my view. Some may have been made in Italy, Graham. Some of the Antone Valetti labeled MFs look like they might have some Italian flourishes (or lack thereof.) The fretboards, tuners, in particular look US. Some of the post AV mandolins could have been made / bought in Chicago and others in Boston.

I know I keep returning to the Leland question, but they remain so curious to me. They appear for a short time as an L+H product, with a full line of instruments (and guitars) but were apparently not made by L+H at all. Some of the line was marketed also by Ditson and then they disappeared altogether. Really wonderful mandolins. Later both L+H and Vega came out with different designed flat backs, both clearly designed as competition with Martin. Sic gloria transit mundi.

Thanks again for all the input. We're not done yet....

Mick

Jake Wildwood
Nov-13-2013, 10:19pm
I am wondering about Jake's aggregation of Empire and Mayflower mandolins. I had always though Mayflower was a line of Chicago and/or Neapolitan built mandolins sold by Harry Flower in Chicago for a few years before 1905 or so, some years before the Empire brand appeared.

Regardless of labels or dates, if you have one of each of the Ditson Empire/Mayflower instruments in your hands side by side, they are pretty much identical save labels and/or minor purfling changes. I've worked on multiples of both.

brunello97
Nov-13-2013, 11:12pm
FWIW here is a link to Jake's blog where he comps a Mayflower, an Empire and a Bugsy Siegel:

Bowl-a-rama (http://antebelluminstruments.blogspot.com/2013/05/c1905-siegel-mayflower-style-bowlback.html)

Mick

Graham McDonald
Nov-14-2013, 1:25am
I got some of my dates a bit wrong. Here is what I know/think about Mayflower, or at least the Harry Flower MayFlower.

"Kay seems to have originated as a company called Groehsl, but information about the company is fragmentary if not sometimes contradictory. The various Kay instrument fan sites on the internet usually have 1890 as the start date, but there is no Goehsl listed in the music sections of the Chicago business directory until 1*** ( I need someone who has access to the Chicago business directories from the 1890s which are on line, but hidden behind a paywall, though I might well subscribe for a month or two when I have enough stuff to look up) when Andrew Groehsl of Perry Ave (a street which seems to no longer exist) appears. Groehsl is credited on these internet sites with making mandolins, guitars or Croatian tamburitzas, but other than what are now highly sought after tamburitzas from the 1920s and 30s there are very few if any Groehsl labeled instruments to be found.

Groehsl was in business for some years from 1904 with music store owner and teacher Harry Flower as Flower & Groehsl producing the MayFlower line of mandolins and guitars. Curiously an extant MayFlower catalog doesn’t mention Groehsl at all and suggests that, the mandolins at least were made in Naples by Antone Valletti for whom Flower was the sole American agent. Valletti’s mandolins are very much in the style of Vinaccia instruments of the time, with a heart shaped cutout in the top of the peghead. Other mandolins have a similarly designed label which reads Flower & Groehsl, Manufacturers, Chicago and are very similar instruments. Both show some American features such as a one piece neck, which is is finished with a black varnish rather than veneered.

An intriguing but possibly entirely irrelevant tidbit is that an Andrew Groehsl married an Amalie or Amelia Bohmann in 1893, which sets up the tantalising idea of a marriage between two of Chicago’s musical families, but the contemporary photos of Joseph Bohmann’s family suggest his daughter was a decade or more too young to be married that year. Perhaps another Bohmann relative?

Who ever Groehsl was and whatever he built, he was bought out by Henry Kuhrmeyer, Frank C. Voisinet and Charles G. Stromberg who announced to the Music Trade Review in early 1922 the formation of the Stromberg-Voisinet Co, located at 3406 Greenview Ave in Chicago with capitalisation of $50,000. By October they had released a colour catalog with 15 mandolins and 10 guitar models with the catalog introduction claiming 25 years of experience in high quality musical instruments. Copies of this catalog seems to have entirely disappeared. A brief news article in the Music Trade Review of 3 February 1923, mentioned a new “lyre-shaped” Stromberg Voisinet mandolin, and an advertisment later in the same edition had an illustration of the asymmetric two point shape."

Gregg Miner mentions that MayFlower is also listed as a L&H brand-name around 1912 and as a Stromberg Voisinet brand in the 1920s. The dates do mean that they could well have been contemporary or at least overlapping and Ditson was able to get the same instrument from whoever made the MayFlowers?

Leland was a brand used by The Chicago Music Co in the 1900s for guitars and bowlback mandos before being taken over by L&H and the name used from 1911 for what was I think was L&H's first foray into flat instruments, promoted as an orchestral group that should be played as an ensemble, with a catalogue of 7 part arrangements for that mix of instruments. I didn't know they were also sold as Ditsons, but nothing surprises me any more about this stuff.

The ideas about moulds is interesting. I would think that a factory who made numbers of mandolins (there are pages from an 1890s L&H catalogue with a picture of what was claimed to be 3000 mandolins in the pile at the back of the room) would use a standardised form to build the bowls on, at least for a particular model or range of models. maybe replace them after a few years, as L&H would seem to have done with their 1897 model mandolins being very different from the leaner more angular instruments of the early 1890s. Maybe then relegate the old ones and those picked up as collateral in takeovers for the cheap mail order models. I can't imagine them being thrown away unless totally trashed by being used for years. They would have a life cycle after after having pins and nails and glue all over them.

A bit more rethinking and rewriting to do...

g