View Full Version : Old Lovers - searching for an F2's story

Dec-11-2013, 5:17pm

I'd like to introduce you to a mysterious couple -- a c1916 F2 and c1918 L4. These beauties have recently been passed-on to me, and I am trying to discover their history (in addition to playing them often).

The story is that the two "matched" instruments were purchased as a wedding gift in the teens. The guitar was kept out and played, but the mandolin spent most of its life in a closet.


This is #29296, a sister to the F4 (http://metmuseum.org/collections/search-the-collections/506857) (photo (http://www.flickr.com/photos/mandolincafe/8226401193/in/set-72157632120056313)) and F2 (http://metmuseum.org/Collections/search-the-collections/506859) (photo (http://www.flickr.com/photos/mandolincafe/8227487458/in/set-72157632120056313)) that Tim May (http://www.mandolincafe.com/news/publish/mandolins_001390.shtml) recently sold to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The FON is 2908, which is present in Span's Guide for 1914. The guitar appears to have a FON of 11041 with illegible serial. Combined with the lack of inlay on the headstock, I assume the L4 is from c1918.

Inside their red-velvet-lined cases, there were a couple interesting picks:
The tiny, thin faux-tortoise pick matches the one that Jack Roberts found (http://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/showthread.php?99359-Celebrate-with-me-F4-quot-Jeanette-Greene-quot-has-her-100th-birthday) in "Jeanette Green's" (incomparable 1913 F4) case. I'm not sure about the other -- maybe that Gibson logo can date it? (I assume the rosewood bridge was on the mando for a time before it had the current ebony one installed -- neither are original.)

This is what I know: They spent some time in the "wheelin' and dealin'" world of bluegrass, where the mandolin gathered some wear and a couple of repairs. An interesting repair is the patch in the pick guard, which removed most of the patent statement. The large scroll in the head was also glued back together. At some point, they came into the hands of the late bluegrass musician "Banjo Joe" Creek of Colorado, and he sold them to my family.


Between them, they have been in the hands of many musicians and many luthiers. I have a soft spot for history and a good story, so I have been digging around to find out as much as possible about them. The wedding gift story is one I would love to verify somehow, because I'm a little suspicious that someone cooked it up to sell a deteriorating guitar with a solid mandolin.

What do you all think? Ever run across this couple in CO or NC?

Jim Garber
Dec-11-2013, 9:03pm
That Gibson pick is not all that old -- I am no expert but I would say 1960s based on this pick site (http://anniespicks.weebly.com/gibson.html) (scroll down a bunch to see these images. Later on these were made with a gold-stamped "Gibson USA) without those "tears" or whatever they are. I like these picks (in heavy weight) and Gibson discontinued them maybe 8 or 9 years ago.

That pickguard looks like it was intentionally cut out for a pickup, so unless the pickguard was on another mandolin, this mandolin did not stay in a closet.

Dec-12-2013, 2:48pm
Thanks for the link to the vintage pick site, Jim -- some really interesting stuff there. It never occurred to me that the pickguard cutout would be for a pickup, but it sure looks that way now that you mention it. That would mean that it's not original to this mandolin, and that there's a hacked-up teens Gibson out there somewhere sporting a pickup and no finger rest...

You're right, I don't think this thing stayed in a closet much after a certain point.

Instruments like this have so many stories and lives bound up in them. I'm a complete sucker for old stuff :grin: