View Full Version : Mandolin Orchestras in 1900

Feb-16-2006, 5:30pm
I'm looking for photos of some the old, large mandolin orchestras from the late 1800's and early 1900's. Can anyone point me in the right direction, please?

Paul Kotapish
Feb-16-2006, 5:48pm
Try http://www.harpguitars.net/

This site has a ton of great old photos, including a number of images of vintage mandolin ensembles. Most of them feature a harp guitar or two, but don't let that dissuade you from exploring a very cool site.


Linda Binder
Feb-16-2006, 6:01pm
On the Milwaukee Mandolin Orchestra site: http://www.milmando.org click on "photo's" and you'll find a few old ones in the mix. The oldest is 1908. The dates are printed on the pictures. If you click on a photo it enlarges.

Jim Garber
Feb-16-2006, 6:18pm
I am not sure if you are looking for original ones to own or just scans. If the latter: I have a few I have scanned and a few I can scan for you, if you like.

I will check when i get home later.


Jim Garber
Feb-16-2006, 10:44pm
Here is one of my favorites.


Feb-17-2006, 11:24am
On the "history" page of our website (http://www.mandolin.be/history/), you can find a few photos of the Royal Estudiantina "La Napolitaine" in early days ...

Jim Garber
Feb-17-2006, 5:12pm
As to the discussion of orchestras of more than 100 players, I have seen fairly few. Tho this may (or not) be of interest (from the Guiness Book of Records site):

Largest Orchestra
The world's largest orchestra consisted of 6,452 musicians from the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra and music students from throughout British Columbia. They played at BC Place Stadium, Vancouver, Canada, on May 15, 2000.


Feb-17-2006, 5:49pm
We have a photo of the early 1900s Dayton Mandolin Orchestra posted in our Photography section: http://DaytonMandolin.net/ I'm also scouting around for additional information about our musical ancestors, but the needle-in-haystack syndrome is prevalent... http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/rock.gif


Bob DeVellis
Feb-17-2006, 6:12pm
This one could have gone into the "women with mandolins" thread, too.

Bob DeVellis
Feb-17-2006, 6:17pm
Another. Note the Howe-Orme mandolin in front.

Jim Garber
Feb-18-2006, 11:16pm
Here's one I dug out from behind my desk. It was a pretty large, panoramic shot of The Mozart Orchestra, Brooklyn, NY 1918, M. Stockman, Director.

I had to scan it in two pieces and seam it together.


John Goodin
Feb-19-2006, 12:24am
Here's a photo of the Louisville Mandolin Orchestra in 1988, from the website of the LMO. The brilliant Phil Wakeman created this homage to those old turn of the century mando orchestra photos. My Flatiron octave mandolin is just to the left of the sign on the floor. It may not have been a century but it seems now like that was a long time ago.

John Goodin


Feb-20-2006, 8:11pm
Interesting that the Mozart orchestra appears to be playing bowlbacks almost exclusively as late as 1918. #Did the Gibson marketing juggernaut not get up to full speed until the 20's - or were some players able to resist?
You can find historic photos of the Baltimore Mandolin Orchestra at BMO (http://www.baltimoremandolinorchestra.org). #Choose "About the Orchestra", then click on "the original BMO" in the text.

Bob DeVellis
Feb-20-2006, 10:04pm
I think the East Coast mandolin ensembles were a bit different from those in the Midwest. A lot of northeastern ensembles were clubs based at universities. They were usually run by a faculty member from the Music Dept. In some cases, I think the club owned at least some of the instruments so they tended to remain in use over the years. I have several photos form college yearbooks of mandolin clubs that were loaded with Vega, Howe-Orme, and other non-Gibson, mandolins made in the northeastern states. The college music groups seemed to vary from year to year, taking on the form of Glee Club, Banjo Club, Mandolin Club, etc., depending on what was most popular at the time. The changes seem to have been more gradual than abrupt. So, as a (5-string) banjo club got more and more mandolins, it eventually evolved into a mandolin club. Years later, it might have again evolved into a banjo club but with tenor and plectrum banjos instead of 5-strings. You can see these changes over successive yearbooks. Besides the more formal faculty-sponsored clubs, there seem to have been less organized, more social music clubs at schools and colleges. Think the racoon coat and ukulele crowd depicted in movies about 1920s college life. In the Midwest, I think there were more community-based ensembles set up by the Gibson reps who used the clubs as a vehicle for sales. No Gibson? No membership! In some ways, those groups may not have really wanted members to stick around for that long. If people dropped out, they just opened up a spot for a new member and a new sale. The community-based orchestras, usually associated with a city of considerable size, seem to be something else again. They may have been where the collegians went to play after graduating. Paul Ruppa is the guy who really knows about this stuff.

Jim Garber
Feb-21-2006, 1:02pm
In another thread, Bernunzio's gallery page (http://www.bernunzio.com/new-gallery/Gibson-Mandolin-Orchestras) was mentioned.