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Jimmy Gutman
Oct-04-2018, 7:51am
Hi all. I have been on line for hours trying to find out what kind of instrument this is. It has 8 strings like a mandolin but is shaped like a tenor lute mandola. It has a Gibson label inside, but I cannot be sure it's not fake. HELP!

171575

171576

171577

171578

danb
Oct-04-2018, 8:35am
Regal Octofone is my guess

Google Image Search (https://www.google.com/search?q=regal+octofone&client=ubuntu&hs=vMR&channel=fs&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiToOux8-zdAhXqJsAKHTAoDWMQ_AUIECgD&biw=1414&bih=1042)

MikeEdgerton
Oct-04-2018, 8:45am
It wasn't made by Gibson and it looks a whole lot like a Regal Octophone as Dan has said. Disregard the label totally, Ignore the headstock shape as well. Regal built them any way the distributor ordered them.

https://www.google.com/search?q=regal+octophone&rlz=1C1AOHY_enUS800US800&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiorfL-9ezdAhXPz1MKHVWOAZ4Q_AUIDygC&biw=1280&bih=939

nmiller
Oct-04-2018, 10:30am
Actually, that's not a Regal. The body shape is not quite the same, nor is the scale, the headstock, or the inlays. It actually looks nicer than any of the Octophones that Regal built. But, everyone is correct in that the Gibson label is a red herring.

Roger Adams
Oct-04-2018, 10:51am
I know nothing about the instrument in question, but the label appears to be original to the instrument and clearly says made in Italy, so no attempt to fake a Gibson. Did Gibson ever import instruments from Italy for distribution?

Seter
Oct-04-2018, 10:57am
Are there any pictures of the back?

darrylicshon
Oct-04-2018, 11:26am
Might just have been a company named Gibson in Italy. I know there are two different Northfield companies. I have a octave from the one in united kingdom

Jimmy Gutman
Oct-04-2018, 11:26am
Regal Octofone is my guess

Google Image Search (https://www.google.com/search?q=regal+octofone&client=ubuntu&hs=vMR&channel=fs&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiToOux8-zdAhXqJsAKHTAoDWMQ_AUIECgD&biw=1414&bih=1042)

I've had an octophone before, it was significantly larger.

- - - Updated - - -

I've had an octophone before, it was significantly larger.

Jimmy Gutman
Oct-04-2018, 11:31am
171615

- - - Updated - - -

See pic below

Jeff Mando
Oct-04-2018, 11:38am
Talk about a red herring -- the "made in Italy" is a nice touch! Why? I don't know........

On a somewhat related note, the local pawn shop chain wouldn't loan money on any instruments without a name or a serial number -- so many were given names and serial numbers after the fact by people needing money -- and as you can guess, some were less convincing than others, but many ended up on the racks for sale. Not sure if that was the goal here or not. But, let's face it -- nobody likes a "no name" instrument!

nmiller
Oct-04-2018, 11:39am
I know nothing about the instrument in question, but the label appears to be original to the instrument and clearly says made in Italy, so no attempt to fake a Gibson. Did Gibson ever import instruments from Italy for distribution?


Might just have been a company named Gibson in Italy. I know there are two different Northfield companies. I have a octave from the one in united kingdom

Note that the label refers exclusively to violin-family instruments. Gibson did indeed distribute Italian-made violins in the '20s, so as far as I know the label could be real. Of course, it's not original to this particular instrument.

MikeEdgerton
Oct-04-2018, 11:39am
I need to start selling bridges. Gibson made violins as well but that label has a logo that can be identified date wise and it wasn't in the 20's unless it was the really late 20's.

Gibson Violins (https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/showthread.php?89965-The-History-of-Gibson-Violins)

Paul's link is dead but the document is there. I'd love to see any documentation of Gibson selling imported instruments that early. I've never seen it and I love the history.

DavidKOS
Oct-04-2018, 11:46am
I know nothing about the instrument in question, but the label appears to be original to the instrument and clearly says made in Italy, so no attempt to fake a Gibson. Did Gibson ever import instruments from Italy for distribution?

"Exclusive distributors of Virzi violins, violas, cellos and basses" and then "Made in Italy"

That's a clue...

https://stearnsviolins.com/index.php/product/virzi-tone-violin/

"“Virzi” Tone Violin made by the Virzi Brothers for Gibson in Italia, New York, in 1924."

Did they make them in New York or is Stearns wrong and Virzi made or imported these violins from Italy?

onward...

http://forum.gibson.com/index.php?/topic/34208-virzi/

"As you may know, the Virzi tone producers were licensed from the Virzi Brothers, who were violin makers, during the Loar era (more or less)"

http://siminoff.net/virzi-tone-background/

"Further south, on the island of Sicily, in the village of Palermo, Giuseppe Virzi Sr. continued the heritage of the family-owned violin and pipe organ repair business. As is the European tradition for offspring to inherit and assume the craft of their parents, sons Joseph and John Virzi seized the opportunity, but took their family’s heritage to the New World...

a line of fine violins, violas, and bass viols, the Virzis opened a sales office at 503 Fifth Avenue in New York City. "

"While the economic opportunities of the U.S. market offered great potential for violins from Italy — a natural connection for the two Virzi brothers — it is interesting to note that the Virzis instead turned to Heron-Allen and Alberto Bachman of Marchneukirche, Germany to produce their instrument line."

huh? GermanY not Italy?

https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/showthread.php?127434-Old-Virzi-and-more-found-at-Mandolin-Brothers

https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/showthread.php?89965-The-History-of-Gibson-Violins

http://www.gibson-prewar.com/gibson-prewar-violin-bass/

seems to cover later period violins circa 39-41 or so

but I found this:

https://tarisio.com/cozio-archive/browse-the-archive/makers/maker/?Maker_ID=2243

Giuseppe Virzi
Violin maker

Younger brother of Giovanni Virzi. Emigrated to New York around 1913.

https://tarisio.com/img/62/62817/height_max=500/crop=centre/62817_label236.jpg

the registered mark is in Italy and NY

https://reverb.com/item/4484005-virzi-tone-producer-violin-1924-antique-gibson-loar-era-4-4-full-size

"Brand:
Virzi
Model:
Violin
Categories:
Violins
Year:
1924
Made In:
Germany"

another Germany reference

https://reverb.com/item/10489140-virzi-tone-stradivarius-violin-antique-instrument-in-good-playing-condition

with label that indicates the Virzi patent was in both NY.

Well I can't say I've helped with what instrument that is, but I do wonder about the label and if it did come from another instrument.

Jeff Mando
Oct-04-2018, 11:50am
What is the word directly before "violins"? It sort of looks like Virzi to me!

Anybody have better eyes?

jd.panko
Oct-04-2018, 11:50am
As per Joe Spann, Gibson owed Virzi $1486 in 1927 presumably for Virzi violins which they were marketing. Looks like the right time period and would explain "virzi" on the label.

Jeff Mando
Oct-04-2018, 11:51am
David beat me to it! :)

MikeEdgerton
Oct-04-2018, 12:52pm
OK, I'm confused. does anyone know when Gibson started using that logo? How long did Gibson do business with Virzi after Loar left? Finally, has anyone got a Virzi catalog for that era? Now I'm intrigued.

Timbofood
Oct-04-2018, 2:25pm
That looks like a genuine Enrico Gibson to me, he worked in a booth in the back, in the corner, in the dark.
;)

mrmando
Oct-04-2018, 3:26pm
Of course the question no one's asking is ... Does it have a Virzi?

Ivan Kelsall
Oct-05-2018, 3:17am
A web search for 'Virzi' doesn't come up with much that doesn't lead back to the use of the ''Virzi Tone Producer'' by the Gibson Co.
The Virzi Brothers are referred to as Italian born instrument makers based in New York : - https://stearnsviolins.com/index.php/product/virzi-tone-violin/

IMHO - It's not beyond the bounds of possibility,that the Op's mandolin 'might' very well be a Virzi bult one,made specifically for Gibson,hence the label. I found a 2005 referrence to a Virzi catalogue on one website,but a search for it yeilded no results.

Realistically (IMHO),this could simply be yet another 'Gibson mystery',of which we've had more than a few in the past !!,:confused:
Ivan;)

AMandolin
Oct-05-2018, 6:50am
I see Gibson Inc.
From 1902 it was called "Gibson Mandolin-Guitar Mfg. Co. Ltd."
In 1944 when it was bought by CMI and then acquired by ECL in 1969 it was called
Gibson Guitar Corp. not until 1986 was it called Gibson Brands Inc.

dhergert
Oct-05-2018, 8:30am
I could be wrong, but it looks to me like the label is "aged" with ink, or at least with some material that doesn't appear on the rest of the inside-back of the mandolin.

Coming from the banjo environment, there are literally thousands of fake Gibson labels that have been made, circulated and even publicly sold. Many of these labels are easily spotted by wording or lettering discrepancies, by the material they were made with, by the conventions that were normal for the date of the instrument's manufacture, and/or by the way they are attached to the instrument. But some of these fake labels are well enough done that they have to be examined forensically in order to tell if they are real. All of this makes any Gibson label on an instrument that doesn't at least generally match a catalog description pretty suspicious.

This particular label asserts a few things that haven't been documented for the likely period and location that the instrument was made in. Gibson did do things that were not documented, but most of those resulting instruments can be categorized as "floor sweep" types of instruments.

I really think the best way to find out about this particular instrument is to present it to one of the living experts on Gibson mandolins for their evaluation. It might be a short and humorous adventure, or it might turn out to be a very illuminating experience.

MikeEdgerton
Oct-05-2018, 8:49am
OK, again. From what I can see Gibson used that logo in the 30's. Does anyone know when they stopped offering a Virzi as an option? The Gibson Inc. name could refer to a second corporation set up to import instruments but I kind of doubt it. They would have just used their corporate name and I can't find anywhere that the company was known as Gibson Inc. Has anyone got any documentation for that? I'm more than a little skeptical that this has anything to do with Gibson.

Steve Ostrander
Oct-05-2018, 8:54am
But some of these fake labels are well enough done that they have to be examined forensically in order to tell if they are real.

Well, they got the "Parsons Street" right anyway. Can't tell if it says 225.

mandotool
Oct-05-2018, 9:11am
10 bucks says they're's a Virzi in there..

Jeff Mando
Oct-05-2018, 10:06am
10 bucks says they're's a Virzi in there..

Kinda like in the 70's when every car "came" with undercoating............at additional cost to the consumer -- but a hard option to delete, once installed!

Jimmy Gutman
Oct-05-2018, 12:53pm
STILL NO ANSWER!
Has anyone seen a picture of a similar instrument?
Thanks

Bernie Daniel
Oct-05-2018, 1:39pm
STILL NO ANSWER!
Has anyone seen a picture of a similar instrument?
Thanks

Seems to me like there were several respondents in this string who have supplied possible answers? In addition several mentioned seeing pics of similar instruments?

One thing that might possibly help would be to try and get a better pic of the entire label?

dhergert
Oct-05-2018, 2:06pm
Jimmy, this unattached mandolin top shows what a Virzi looks like when it's mounted inside a mandolin:

Mandolin Cafe Mandolin Glossary - Virzi (https://www.mandolincafe.com/glossary/glossary_14.shtml)

Can you check to see if your mandolin has one of these? It would help a lot to know.

allenhopkins
Oct-05-2018, 2:59pm
Never seen a "Gibson Inc." label.

Virzi was evidently multi-national in terms of manufacture and distribution. If this oddity was built by Virzi for Gibson (perhaps to cash in on the overwhelming world-wide popularity of Regal's Octofone [not!]), it could have a "one-of" label, be a prototype that never went into production.

Or not.

rcc56
Oct-05-2018, 3:08pm
I just got my Octophone out and compared it to the instrument in the picture. The shape and proportions are indeed different.

I don't know who made the OP's instrument, but I can see nothing that remotely resembles any Gibson characteristics that I am familiar with. Neither does the workmanship resemble any Gibson violin that I have seen. Gibson violins were rather crude looking compared to this instrument.

As far as the theory that it was made for Gibson by Virzi or a European contractor, why would Gibson do such a thing when they could easily make any mandolin family instrument in-house?

My guess is that the label came out of a Gibson catalog or advertisement.

I believe that what we have here in an instrument by an unidentified maker with a false label. It happens all the time in the violin world.

I've seen quite a few oddball Gibsons over the years, but they all still looked like Gibsons. This one does not.

I would be interested to know what this instrument sounds like and what the scale length is.

Jimmy Gutman
Oct-05-2018, 5:25pm
Thanks rcc. This info was helpful. I'll just keep the instrument (what would you call it? A mandolin?) for curiosity sake.

mandotool
Oct-05-2018, 5:45pm
Thanks rcc. This info was helpful. I'll just keep the instrument (what would you call it? A mandolin?) for curiosity sake.
Hey there Jimmy...You're not going to leave us hanging are ye? ;)
Just loosen the strings and dip your Iphone? into the soundhole...
Perhaps you will hit the jackpot and see something like this ...
171667
If it has one...you just doubled the value of your find..
Please do let us know..if you are able.

rcc56
Oct-05-2018, 9:59pm
Jimmy, if you will measure the distance from the nut to the bridge and tell us what it is, we will be able to tell you whether the instrument is a mandola or an octave mandolin.

It looks like a reasonably well built instrument. With the right kind of strings, it may well be worth playing.

To answer Mike's question about the early use of "Gibson, Inc." on instrument labels, a white oval label with "Gibson, Inc." was indeed in use as early as 1932 or '33. These labels would generally have been used on upper line archtop guitars. http://www.prewargibsonl-5.com/the-anatomy-of-the-l-5-page-2/4584945560 Go to "L-5 in detail, anatomy of the L-5 page 2 to view one of these labels.

I have seen this label on a couple of late F-4's.

Ivan Kelsall
Oct-06-2018, 4:04am
From rrc56 - " ...why would Gibson do such a thing when they could easily make any mandolin family instrument in-house ?.".If you look at the link in my previous post,Virzi Brothers were making Violins for the Gibson Co. at one point. It's not beyond the bounds of possibility that they also made mandolins of the type in question, which included their 'Tone producer',while Gibson produced their own style instruments. I suppose that we could say 'why didn't Gibson make Violins ?' - they had the builders with the skill to do so,but they didn't.

Purely conjecture on my behalf,but it's not an impossible scenario (IMHO),
Ivan

Jimmy Gutman
Oct-06-2018, 8:18am
Hi Don, thanks for the info.
The instrument does not have one of those thing-a-ma-jikies inside of it.
I was able to get a couple better photos of the label (see below).171688171689

Jimmy Gutman
Oct-06-2018, 8:31am
Hi Mandotool. I actually stuck a little fiberoptic scope in there. No luck finding the thingamabob.
But I posted better pictures of the label.
Thanks again.

Jimmy Gutman
Oct-06-2018, 8:32am
Nut to bridge distance is exactly 20" inches.
Thanks for your help!

Jeff Mando
Oct-06-2018, 8:54am
We know from looking at it that it is a mandolin family instrument, but not a mandolin.

The jury is still out on whether the label is old and genuine or something that was added later. IF AND ONLY IF the label is genuine, then we could technically call it a "Gibson" although the instrument was not made by Gibson, but an instrument made for Gibson by somebody else and intended for distribution by Gibson. To my way of thinking, this would qualify as a curiosity, but nothing to get excited about.

Much like Fender in the 60's had a series of guitars made by Harmony in the USA with Fender on the peghead -- technically they are Fenders, but nobody gets excited about them. And, they don't have the quality of a "real" Fender.

Regardless of who made it and what it is, it may be a great sounding instrument that somebody can enjoy, IMHO.

Jim Garber
Oct-06-2018, 9:46am
The headstock resembles some Italian made bowlbacks I have seen. My guess it is an Italian made instrument that might have some connection to Virzi Brothers who had some connection to Gibson.

Charles E.
Oct-06-2018, 12:25pm
The headstock resembles some Italian made bowlbacks I have seen. My guess it is an Italian made instrument that might have some connection to Virzi Brothers who had some connection to Gibson.

Hey, I know a guy that knows a guy, who knows a guy, that makes these octophone things. See?

Jimmy Gutman
Oct-06-2018, 1:03pm
<Removed by Moderator, Posting Guidelines>

Charles E.
Oct-06-2018, 2:50pm
:popcorn:

colorado_al
Oct-06-2018, 4:34pm
T<Removed by Moderator, Posting Guidelines>

I do wish you luck! And lots of it! You'll need it to get anywhere near half that price.

PS- Posts that promote sales are against the forum rules

MikeEdgerton
Oct-06-2018, 4:43pm
OK, we're done. Thanks everyone. Please review the posting guidelines.