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violmando
Jun-21-2009, 10:46am
HI
I'm a regular, but I'm posting this for a newbie, who's so new he can't post yet!
A friend of a friend found a L. Ricca bowlback mandolin at a flea market (!) years ago and recently asked the friend to restore it to playable condition. Does anyone have any info (or know of a source) regarding the history of this instrument or luthier and/or approximate value of the instrument? It was made in NY around the turn of the century and has a red serial number 12138. It is rosewood with 15 ribs. Used as a wall decoration for decades :-( and was recently restored to playable condition and sounds surprisingly good and very loud. Any clues? THANKS!
I will tell him myself that pictures ALWAYS help!
THANKS! Yvonne aka violmando

Jim Garber
Jun-21-2009, 11:55am
Luigi Ricca is my pet research project. I would love to see some photos of your friend's mandolin. In the meantime, I have a scan of an original Ricca mandolin catalog I own. You download it here (http://www.paperclipdesign.com/ricca/).

Ricca was in business in New York around the turn of the last century. According to Mike Holmes (of Mugwumps.com) he then mover to NJ where he set up a factory with, at one time. 200 employees. My theory is that, like a few other makers in the New York area (Angelo Mannello, Raphael Ciani, amlng others) he contracted with other companies and built mandolins for them.

I also have an original mandolin method book by Sr. Ricca. I also own three Ricca mandolins and a few others that have "disciple of L. Ricca" on their labels -- C. Biggio, Antonio Grauso and A. Russo.

brunello97
Jun-21-2009, 12:46pm
Any idea, Jim, where the Ricca factory was located? I had a Ricca bowlback for awhile that was a very pretty instrument, very delicate in construction-more Italian in feel than GreatLakesRim models. It played nicely though did not have an exceptional tone, and a pumpkin colored top that gave my '17 Gibson a run.

If the 200 employee story is true-they must have had a substantial operation at some point-in a sizeable building. Your hypothesis of them doing jobber work for others makes sense as the number of Riccas I have seem floating around has been modest. That said, their catalog is a serious bit of work. Where have all the Riccas gone?

Now, if we can convince Yvonne to post a photo or two......

Mick

violmando
Jun-21-2009, 5:03pm
It really does belong to a friend of mine...I'm not sure what his mando cafe handle will be, so I'd better not say his name, but he is in the Dayton Mandolin Orchestra with me and it's either his or he knows of it. I'm hoping he'll bring it to our next rehearsal because I"M CURIOUS now! I've been lusting after vintage bowlbacks for quite awhile, but haven't had either the guts or money to make the plunge....the Montgomery Ward wall hanger I have doesn't count! Yvonne

violmando
Jun-23-2009, 4:33pm
Here's pictures of the Ricca bowlback...James says he's been busy and is "too lazy" to work out how to post pictures here. I know he just finished putting in semester grades; I don't know what else is going on....little does he know I'm not the best at putting on pictures!

violmando
Jun-23-2009, 4:34pm
One more before it was fixed, I believe....Yvonne

Jim Garber
Apr-16-2010, 11:50am
Time to bump this thread. I have been having a cyber discussion with a luthier friend who is very interested in Italian American fretted instrument makers. Ricca, of course, came up. I don't kno how I missed this, but Ricca, as of 1898, turned to piano manufacturing, which would certainly explain how he had 200 people working for him.

Check out this bio in Pianos and Their Makers By Alfred Dolge (http://books.google.com/books?id=w8Y5AAAAIAAJ&pg=PA164&lpg=PA164&dq=luigi+ricca+piano&source=bl&ots=8oFx1Y9Yfc&sig=XK8FgnNRi2hrhUwPYhzZkvS6OCY&hl=en&ei=9pTIS7HBNsO88gbcy5GHBw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CAwQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=luigi%20ricca%20piano&f=false)

brunello97
Apr-16-2010, 9:31pm
Jim, this is deep. I have kicked myself for selling my Ricca, not because it sounded so great, but because it looked so pretty, and even moreso now that I could have passed it along to you. 200 people doing anything is a lot of people, a lot of payroll. Where did all the mandolins (and pianos) go? I am curious about the company as well given their location in the MidAtlanticRim. At least half the families in the village where we have our summer house in Liguria are named Ricca (and about 75% in the local cemetery.) Not an uncommon name at all but an odd synchronicity.

Mick

Bob A
Apr-16-2010, 9:53pm
It's been several generations since a piano in the parlor was an essential for home entertainment. You can blame Edison and Marconi - why not, they're beyond caring - but the pianos are probably in the same place as the huge vacuum-tube radios, and the phonograph/TV consoles, and the wind-up 78 rpm Victrolas.

Schlegel
Apr-16-2010, 10:43pm
A friend of our got a baby grand just by being willing to pick it up. A family was moving cross-country and gave the piano away rather than pay around $2000 to move it. We are more mobile than ever, and pianos are not a mobile instrument.

allenhopkins
Apr-17-2010, 1:20pm
Another factor is that electronic keyboards have to a large extent "eaten the piano's lunch." Cheaper, portable, take up near-zero space -- your kid can have one up in his bedroom to do his Stevie Winwood or Benmont Tench late at night. A piano was part of the furniture that an affluent or near-affluent family would have in the parlor. When we sold my parents' house, we left the old upright in the living room for the next owner; no one wanted it.

brunello97
Dec-19-2011, 9:11am
Rather than post this in the "BON" thread, I thought to add on to an existing Ricca discussion to build some density around the topic with a searchable name.

This modest but charming bowlback went for a mere $80 on the ebay. No label but the tailpiece shape and LR makes me think Ricca. The tuners look replacement, so maybe the tailpiece came from elsewhere. The extra detailing in the bowl also caught my eye.

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=300638476760#ht_524wt_1283

Mick

Jim Garber
Dec-19-2011, 9:16am
Interesting. That one looks different than others esp with those bowl details. Tailpiece is definitely Ricca and the overall look is. Of course, the bridge is upside down. Almost every Ricca I have seen has had a label intact, even the basket-cases. I am not sure of this one -- I can't recall one with a butterfly on the pg like that.

Did you get this one, Mick?

Jim Garber
Dec-19-2011, 9:52am
Here's a beat-up, lower-end Luigi Ricca mandolin (http://www.ebay.com/itm/ANTIQUE-VINTAGE-Luigi-Ricca-Mandolin-Florentine-STRING-INSTRUMENT-COLLECTOR-1898-/280792827187?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item41608e8533) with super high starting bid.

brunello97
Dec-19-2011, 12:03pm
Jim, I saw that high price Ricca as well. It is nice to dream. No, I didn't bid on the other. It came on my radar screen pretty late, and while I was tempted, I am really not in an acquisition mode right now. Like you, the Riccas I have seen have had labels intact but not necessarily with the monogram tailpiece, so others may have drifted by if they had lost their labeling. The rosewood quality and bowl detailing on the $80 mandolin are nice. My hunch is that someone got a good deal. I hope it turns up here for further discussion.

Mick

Kei
Dec-25-2011, 11:46am
Hello everyone,

I have an old mandolin that I inherited from my great grandfather. The label inside reads "MONTGOMERY WARD & CO, CHICAGO." It looks very much like a Ricca, just based on my Web searching. Any opinions?

Thanks!

Kei

80126

80127

80128

Jim Garber
Dec-25-2011, 7:47pm
Kei, it looks exactly to me like an American Conservatory mandolin made/sold by Lyon & Healy. Here is a near exact one to yours. BTW check the bridge position on yours. You can see the fading on the top where it used to be.

Kei
Dec-27-2011, 9:31am
Jim,

Thanks very much! And thanks for the hint about the bridge.

Nice web site, too!

Kei

Richard Foss
Jan-03-2013, 11:57pm
Hello from a newbie to Mandolin Cafe - I just bought a Ricca bowlback on EBay for 95 bucks -a couple tuners on each side were shot, but I think I can tinker together one set from the pieces - is there any interest in or market for these?962319623296233

My mandolin was set up very strangely with three additional tuning pegs - from the groove evidence on the bridge, to triple the three highest strings. Was this a common practice, and if so, why? I can only assume that someone so enjoyed tuning their mandolin that they wanted to spend more time doing it. Needless to say, if this is the reason I doubt their sanity.

It is strung with very light gauge strings and has a pleasant sound - it's the first bowlback I have owned or even heard much, so I don't know what is usual. I'm having trouble getting the short scale by touch, but look forward to learning.

Jim Garber
Jan-04-2013, 9:15am
I have pics of your mandolin from the original eBay listing. Ricca is one of my interests.

I am pretty sure that the addition of the three banjo pegs was done by one of the owners of this mandolin. I doubt that the factory made it that way. It is sort of clever tho I don't know why the owner wanted to only play with eleven strings. If you want to make it difficult for yourself why not go all the way and triple all strings. There were, of course, 12 string mandolins made that way and those were built heavier to withstand the extra pressure of the strings.

It looks like someone changed out the tuners. Here is a pic of the one from eBay listing in May 2012. it shows it with all 11 strings tho the bass ones look like they are on backwards.

Richard Foss
Jan-04-2013, 12:43pm
Hi Jim, and thank you for the quick response.

I changed the tuners because most of the old ones were shot - I think that I can disassemble both of them and use a jeweler's anvil and tools to create one set from the parts. If I can find or repair period tuners I'll replace the modern ones, but in the meantime it's playable - I was just practicing on it before coming back to my computer to see if anybody had responded to this.

I think that even if somebody had wanted twelve strings for some reason there would be no way to fit one more peg on that neck - it was pretty crammed back there, and the flange on the new tuners is slightly larger than the original so there is no way to put the bottommost peg back. I'm trying to figure out what to do about the hole - I have a very old mother-of-pearl cufflink and I'm probably going to put it there so it looks like a decoration - it will be less distracting than the hole.

Richard Foss
Jan-04-2013, 12:52pm
Hi Jim, and thank you for the quick response.

I changed the tuners because most of the old ones were shot - I think that I can disassemble both of them and use a jeweler's anvil and tools to create one set from the parts. If I can find or repair period tuners I'll replace the modern ones, but in the meantime it's playable - I was just practicing on it before coming back to my computer to see if anybody had responded to this.

I think that even if somebody had wanted twelve strings for some reason there would be no way to fit one more peg on that neck - it was pretty crammed back there, and the flange on the new tuners is slightly larger than the original so there is no way to put the bottommost peg back. I'm trying to figure out what to do about the hole - I have a very old mother-of-pearl cufflink and I'm probably going to put it there so it looks like a decoration - it will be less distracting than the hole.

Richard Foss
Jan-04-2013, 12:54pm
Something else... This is the least ornamented Ricca I have seen, and it has a smaller tailpiece than the others I have seen on this site. I wonder if mine was an economy model?

Jim Garber
Jan-04-2013, 1:09pm
No doubt you have seen my pdf of the Ricca catalog. Yours sort of resembles the style Florentine tho with a different wood on the bowl. yes, a basic model.

Richard Foss
Jan-06-2013, 5:27pm
I don't think it's a Florentine - that specifies nine ribs, but this has fifteen. Oddly, though every Ricca in the catalog is listed as having position dots, this one doesn't.

96369
96370

Jim Garber
Jan-07-2013, 11:26am
It could have been made before of after my catalog. OTOH it is also possible that someone replaced the fretboard. Ricca became a big company later on with over 200 employees but that is when they switched over to piano making. I don't know if they even made mandolins at that point.

Farace
Aug-21-2018, 2:34pm
I found these while doing a Google search. I hope they're of interest.

From the January 1895 World Almanac & Encyclopedia:
170381

See center advertisement from the August 1896 Loomis' Musical & Masonic Journal (New Haven, Connecticut):
170382

allenhopkins
Aug-21-2018, 3:48pm
LOVE it: ads for disinfectant, cemetery lots, toilet paper, and mandolins all in a row. Sorta the opposite of "targeted marketing."

brunello97
Aug-21-2018, 10:33pm
LOVE it: ads for disinfectant, cemetery lots, toilet paper, and mandolins all in a row. Sorta the opposite of "targeted marketing."

Allen, I found the "Do you use toilet paper?" ad to be a bit of a shock. I guess they were "targeting" folks who weren't using toilet paper. And played the mandolin.

Yuck.

Mick

CarlM
Aug-24-2018, 10:05am
Allen, I found the "Do you use toilet paper?" ad to be a bit of a shock. I guess they were "targeting" folks who weren't using toilet paper. And played the mandolin.

It is fascinating to me how far we are removed from just a generation or two ago. My parents grew up with coal heat, my wife's parents without indoor plumbing even in a medium sized city. Horses were still pretty common in town in my parents generation. The last city owned hitching posts were taken out in the 1960s. So were the last few outhouses in town. I recall one or two in town outhouses into the 1970s. The first house that I remember living in with my parents had the toilet and bath in the cellar and could only be gotten to by going outdoors and down through the cellar type doors. That house still exists though I expect it has been modernized. It would be in style now with the tiny house trend being under 500 square feet. My wife's father grew up in an under 500 square foot house with two sisters. The iceman was still coming around for my parents and the milkman when I was young. My grandparents still had and used their wind up Victrola when I was young. My mother still used a wringer washer into the 1960s and grew up with non electric irons and crank telephones.

The whole toilet paper thing had a lot to do with why the Sears and Roebuck catalog was so popular with their generation though a lot of the rural people used corn cobs.

brunello97
Aug-24-2018, 12:43pm
No nostalgia for moss or corncobs here.

Mick

allenhopkins
Aug-27-2018, 7:44pm
1. I grew up with a party-line crank telephone; our ring was two long and four short. When my parents bought the house, indoor plumbing had just been installed, so we ceremonially burned down the old outhouse. Our little Methodist church had an outhouse into the 1970's.

2. Think the "Do You Use Toilet Paper?" ad was selling some sort of institutional TP system to "Hotels, Steamboats, and Public Buildings." Residential consumers were on their own, I guess.

3. A nice solid hijack -- from mandolin ID, to outhouses and toilet paper vs. the Sears, Roebuck catalog. The TP was softer, but the catalog had more intellectual content.

Troy Fisher
Feb-21-2019, 9:18pm
I believe I have aquirred an Luigi Ricca anyone can help me with information and value I would appreciate it.

Jim Garber
Feb-21-2019, 11:36pm
I believe I have aquirred an Luigi Ricca anyone can help me with information and value I would appreciate it.

We believe that you have acquired a Ricca mandolin. Post some good clear decent-sized photos, front and some with details. Most Ricca mandolins were made around the turn of the last century. Unless it is particularly ornate one in pristine condition, it will not be especially valuable. If it playable, I would just put some decent strings on it and play it.

Ray(T)
Feb-23-2019, 8:31am
There are photos with the other post you replied to Jim. What Iím not sure about is whether Troy is trying to sell one or has just bought one but there are three hours between the two!

Jim Garber
Feb-23-2019, 10:30am
He has one and someone wants to buy it.

Ray(T)
Feb-23-2019, 11:32am
3 hours earlier, he “believed” he’d bought it !!??!!

Jim Garber
Feb-23-2019, 1:15pm
And I believed him. Then again, I trust many people. Maybe he thought he found a real treasure. His looked OK but the bridge was positioned below the cant so probably someone tried to lower the action that way.