View Full Version : 1900 Calace Mandolin

Nov-24-2008, 10:49pm
[I hoping if someone could give me some information on this 1900 Calace Mandolin I have.

The label says Fratres Calace Neapoli. Fecer vnt 1900 and it is signed by ??? Calace. It has what looks to be mother of pearl inlay and pick with what seems to be ivory tuners and we have the original box. It is in excellent condition and is never used.

Does anyone know anything about this mandolin and is it ok for the kids to just play around with? or should I keep it out of reach? What is it worth?


Nov-24-2008, 11:04pm
It's not a toy, it probably has some value. One of the bowlback mandolin experts will chime in by tomorrow.

Nov-24-2008, 11:07pm
Thank you. I will take it off them now.

Nov-24-2008, 11:18pm
Calace's are highly prized among classical players. Although bowl backs don't compare with the Gibson clones in terms of price I'd still think it was worth at least $1000 on the market. That one appears to be a no frills model, but I bet it still sounds great.

The "Bowlbacks of Note" thread in the classical forum is (literally) overflowing with information, most of it useful too! ;) That would be a good one for you to read while awaiting the appearance of the scholars of the LOotB.

Nov-24-2008, 11:27pm
Thank you. I will take a look at that posting and yes it does sound great!

Nov-25-2008, 12:24am
Here is one thread on Calaces (http://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/showthread.php?t=19134&highlight=Calace), and here is another (http://www.mandolincafe.net/cgi-bin/ikonboard.cgi?act=ST;f=6;t=33647), more lengthy (and somewhat dated in terms of prices) one.

Note well Bob's warning: LIGHT strings only should be used on these delicate antiques, and not bluegrass strings made for carved topped mandolins.

Martin Jonas
Nov-25-2008, 6:45am
I would think very considerably more than $1000, actually, even for this relatively plain model. It looks to be in immacculate condition,. All Calaces are very desirable, but from watching the market, the early ones, both before and shortly after the split between the two brothers Raffaele and Nicola Calace seem to be particularly highly sought-after - they are rarer and potentially more valuable than the already very desirable later ones made by Raffaele Calace on his own.

Yours is slightly confusing, in that the two brothers split up in 1898, two years earlier than the date on your mandolin. Models made in 1900 should have Raffaele's name on its own. I suspect they may have continued to use up old label stock for a while, especially for instruments labelled specifically for a particular export market. Yours is labelled in French, and so this is presumably a label used only for instruments that were sent to Calace's French distributors.

I would very strongly reiterate the advice above about string gauges. Under NO circumstances put bluegrass-gauge strings on this mandolin; the string tension will destroy it. Bowlback strings are light or (preferably for such an old one) extra light gauges.

Congratulations on owning one of the holy grails of classical mandolining!


Nov-25-2008, 7:10am
Thanks Martin.
Have you any idea who's signature is on the label as it doesn't appear to be in the style of Raffaele's later signatures.

We have actually had the instrument for sometime - over 40 years. It was found under a house and then kept in its original box under the bed!

Thanks for the advice on the strings. There are actually spare packets of strings in the box - rather old though. Both are from London - one is Summit Mandoline D or 3rd wound on steel No. 1090. The others are Monopole Mandolin E (MI) 1 No. 503 made by General Music Strings Ltd London.


Martin Jonas
Nov-25-2008, 8:59am
Sue --

Looking at the label up close, I must humbly correct myself: of course it's not French, it's Latin, so it's not really a label for a particular export market, but rather a self-conciously archaic one as the habit of labelling instruments in Latin had gone out of fashion a long time before 1900. Very peculiar label indeed -- it's the outline of a pseudo-18th century label printed onto a more modern style of label. I've never seen one of those labels before, but maybe one of the others has. As for the signature, I think it says "Fratelli Calace", with the first word shortened to "Flli", which is fairly common. The signature is a bit squashed in that little space at the bottom right hand corner of the label, but I think the "Calace" part itself looks much like Raffaele's signature on later instruments.

I don't think I'd use the old set of strings on the box. Get some modern ones, either Fisoma bronze-wound medium or Dogal Calace dolce (the "dolce" part is important!).


Pastor Bill Pawlyshyn
Nov-26-2008, 6:45pm
looked over some of the 10,000+ hits and saw one similiar to yours in picture for 1.200 - 2.400 euros (exchange rate 1:1.45 about). so . . . it looks as if you have a nice collectors item if it is a Calace - the guy who started these type mando is from Italy in the early 1800's (c.1825) as i sure your are very aware . . . hope this helps. Was interesting to look at the many variations for this mandolin. treat it, as rmartin stated - gently! enjoy its sweet sound

Nov-26-2008, 10:16pm
Thanks Bill.

Since we have found out all this information on the mandolin we are seeing it in a new light and really appreciating what a beautiful instrument it is and what a lovely sound it has.

We are also handling it a more carefully!

Many thanks