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View Full Version : Monroe's headstock sells for $37,500



Scott Tichenor
Dec-03-2009, 11:00am
At Christie's (http://www.christies.com/lotfinder/lot_details.aspx?from=salesummary&intObjectID=5273001&sid=2595d9ac-dc18-4d94-a456-3591a9e29d55) just now. We're in touch with a representative at Christie's in case there's more news. They've promised us a follow-up soon.

MikeEdgerton
Dec-03-2009, 11:02am
I can't believe I was outbid.

AlanN
Dec-03-2009, 11:07am
Odds are it's in-state.

Jeremy Frank
Dec-03-2009, 11:13am
There were four other Monroe items auctioned off:

A Country Music Hall of Fame medallion (http://www.christies.com/lotfinder/lot_details.aspx?from=salesummary&intObjectID=5273002&sid=8641bc97-2bc5-4e7a-ba09-1c3259a87fd4) produced by Jostens, and presented to Bill Monroe. Monroe was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1970. - Sold for $688

A BMI Special Citation of Achievement (http://www.christies.com/lotfinder/lot_details.aspx?from=salesummary&intObjectID=5273003&sid=8641bc97-2bc5-4e7a-ba09-1c3259a87fd4) presented to Bill Monroe for over 1 million broadcasts of his classic Uncle Pen. - Sold for $625

A 38th Annual Grammy Nomination medallion (http://www.christies.com/lotfinder/lot_details.aspx?from=salesummary&intObjectID=5273004&sid=8641bc97-2bc5-4e7a-ba09-1c3259a87fd4) produced by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, and presented to Bill Monroe in 1996. - Sold for $500

A Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction award (http://www.christies.com/lotfinder/lot_details.aspx?from=salesummary&pos=1&intObjectID=5273005&sid=2595d9ac-dc18-4d94-a456-3591a9e29d55) presented posthumously to Bill Monroe in 1997. - Sold for $2500

Darryl Wolfe
Dec-03-2009, 11:16am
I suspected this would go for way more than the $7000ish suggested, but I did not expect that much

One has to realize that a number of companies and foundations would likely be involved..along with a few individuals with the means to compete

chip
Dec-03-2009, 11:35am
I expected that it sell for at least that as it's one of the most recognizable icons of country and bluegrass history. Someone certainly has bragging rights to a pretty cool thing. Time will tell if it's a good investment. I wonder if the buyer is able to capitalize on using the image for gift related items, ie: apparel, stationary, etc. or just frame it and hang it on the wall. Considering that autographs, signed guitars, etc. also sell in that price range it's probably a fair price for a one of kind item with such provenance...

Darryl Wolfe
Dec-03-2009, 11:35am
Odds are it's in-state.

I think he may have choked on that price, but ya never know

Mike Black
Dec-03-2009, 12:00pm
WOW!!!!! :disbelief:

Nelson Peddycoart
Dec-03-2009, 12:14pm
Given the price of Loar F5s from the 1920s, this does not surpise me at all. I figured the original estimate would not hold. I wonder what Bill would say about this? That discarded headstock veneer sold for alot more that most of us will pay for our best mandolin.

Rick Schmidlin
Dec-03-2009, 12:17pm
As a appraiser I feel this was a fair price and a good historical investment

Tom C
Dec-03-2009, 12:53pm
Great. somebody gets a headstock overlay they can hang on their wall for the rest of their life. I rather have a 30's-40's F5 for that price. :)

mandroid
Dec-03-2009, 12:55pm
Well it wasn't paid for by the CEO from my company pension fund .. oh that's right it's already toast.

AlanN
Dec-03-2009, 1:03pm
Great. somebody gets a headstock overlay they can hang on their wall for the rest of their life. I rather have a 30's-40's F5 for that price. :)

Better yet, put it on yer F-5. Imagine the talk around the jam session...

JEStanek
Dec-03-2009, 1:15pm
I would rather have Gary Vessel make me a faithful repro of the whole mandolin (for a fair bit less money too!). I hope it brings joy to whomever bought it.

Jamie

Aehle
Dec-03-2009, 1:29pm
Who owned the overlay prior to the sale?

250sc
Dec-03-2009, 1:31pm
I think they should repair it and put "Gibson" back in so it looks shiny and new.

Scotti Adams
Dec-03-2009, 1:40pm
Gary's Faux Monroe

Glassweb
Dec-03-2009, 2:15pm
bought by Gibson to put on the one and only, latest... greatest new offering from Gibson OAI - "The Bill Monroe Distressed Model". only ONE will be produced... and it will have a pricetag of one miliion dollars.

no really folks... that's a pretty impressive auction price... i'm with Darryl - never thought it would go THAT high...

journeybear
Dec-03-2009, 2:34pm
Dadblastit! I told my agent to go as high as $40,000. What in Sam Hill happened? He's not taking my calls ...

I had a gold chain all picked out so I could wear that fine fine bling around my neck to all the campgrounds, jam sessions, and pickin' parties and freak people out!

Nuts! :mad:

Spruce
Dec-03-2009, 3:19pm
Personally, I think 37.5K is a steal...

Huge amount of mojo and history there, all wrapped up in something you can hang on your wall....

sgarrity
Dec-03-2009, 3:25pm
I'd rather buy a Gil F5, a braz. guitar, and use the rest of the money to go to Kaufman camp.

I thought maybe $8-10k. Looks like there is a serious Monroe fan out there that is very happy today!

re simmers
Dec-03-2009, 3:51pm
I guess the auctioneer couldn't see my hand. I could barely see over all those Mandolin cafe hats.

I'll save my money for the knife Big Mon used on it. I'm also hoping for the fireplace poker to surface.

Bob

SternART
Dec-03-2009, 4:09pm
I'm also hoping for the fireplace poker to surface.Bob

In a weird way I though that quip was pretty funny. ;)

MikeEdgerton
Dec-03-2009, 4:13pm
I asked if anyone had a picture of that thing a while back (http://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/showthread.php?t=45591&highlight=fireplace+poker). It does come up now and then, like in all these (http://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/search.php?query=fireplace+poker&exactname=0&starteronly=0&forumchoice%5B%5D=&prefixchoice%5B%5D=&childforums=1&titleonly=0&searchdate=0&beforeafter=after&do=process) threads.

f5loar
Dec-03-2009, 4:45pm
"Looks like there is a serious Monroe fan out there that is very happy today! "
There is more then one serious Monroe fan to get it up to that price. It takes at least two to tango in an auction. One of them lost today. The other is very happy ;)
It went for at least half price of it's true worth.
Can you even count how many original bluegrass tunes vibrated through that head for almost 40 years? How many sold out concerts it attended? How many sets of strings were wrapped around it's eight holes?
The King of Pop's glove brought $350,000. Heck for $37,000 you couldn't buy the King of Pop's black silk surgical mask :)) Here we are talking the Father of Bluegrass, ex King of Bluegrass most personal artifact.

Mandolin Mick
Dec-03-2009, 5:03pm
I can't remember the starting bid price, but I actually entertained the thought ... but even that price would be a stretch ...

Glassweb
Dec-03-2009, 5:10pm
QUOTE - f5loar - 73978 "One of them lost today. The other is very happy." ;)

Congrats to that happy bidder!

journeybear
Dec-03-2009, 6:12pm
Over at the Archive, part of the description for #73987 (http://www.mandolinarchive.com/perl/show_mando.pl?55) reads: "Famously vandalized 11/13/1985 by a jilted paramour, the splinters of this mandolin were re-assembled by Charlie Derrington in the most famous repair job in mandolin history." "Jilted paramour," indeed. Now that's dry wit! :))

From there also, "You can hear Bill Monroe tell part of the story of his mandolin in his own words." (http://www.mandolinarchive.com/audio/73987/73987_monroe_mandolin_story.mp3)

MikeEdgerton
Dec-03-2009, 6:36pm
I'm guessing more details of the jilted paramour have been published in the pages of the cafe than they have been anyplace else. With a little searching and a lot of reading you can learn a whole lot about it.

journeybear
Dec-03-2009, 6:48pm
It is probably one of the best-known - and best - stories about a musician and his instrument. Sure, I'm biased by my immersion in mandolinosity for over forty years, but I think it outranks Hendrix setting his guitar on fire or any of the ones Townshend smashed. Those were really props; this was Bill Monroe's main instrument, and that relationship ran deep.

Amandalyn
Dec-03-2009, 7:07pm
Any idea who bought it?
and who owned it before?

re simmers
Dec-03-2009, 8:20pm
The Gibson company didn't buy it, did they? :)

Bob

thistle3585
Dec-03-2009, 8:45pm
Any idea who bought it?
and who owned it before?

Here is the story about it and the owners. http://www.mandolincafe.com/news/publish/mandolins_001107.shtml

The total included the buyers premium, so I would guess that the actual sales price was in the low $30K range. What is the premium? 20%?

GTison
Dec-03-2009, 11:26pm
D Wolfe "I think he may have choked on that price, but ya never know"

Yes it almost a little of a sad thought. He might could have held off the creditors a little longer with that kind of cash.
But he would have stood up and sung "Blue Moon of Kentucky", ...the fast part.

I think I just want a framed picture of it. You know like folks have prints of Monets or other art.

swampstomper
Dec-04-2009, 12:15am
By "In-state" do you imply New York State (where the auction was held) or Tennessee (where the mandolin under the headplate was based) or Michigan (where the headplate came from prior to auction)? Are Japanese collectors not still active?

I also thought the price was a steal for such a unique piece of history. Of course it has to be someone with real money, those posters who would rather invest that in a mandolin are right but probably the successful bidder can buy all the mando s/he wants also.

I would be proud to have that on my wall! Even my wife might be impressed.

journeybear
Dec-04-2009, 1:08am
I think I just want a framed picture of it. You know like folks have prints of Monets or other art.

If you follow the link in post #33 - well, first read the article, it's great - you'll see a link at the bottom to a high resolution photo of the framed face plate. You should be able to turn that into something worth mounting, framing, and hanging on the wall. The story tells about the seller and how he came to own it; haven't seen anything yet about the buyer.

Gail Hester
Dec-04-2009, 3:46am
Congratulations to whoever won Mr. Monroeís original headstock overlay. I was at the Country Music Hall Of fame a few weeks ago and spent some time with the rest of that mandolin. It was a moving experience.

Goodin
Dec-04-2009, 8:36am
I was hoping the Country Music Hall of Fame would have bought it. (maybe they did?). I think it is appropriate for the headstock to go with the rest of the mandolin.

Brian Ray
Dec-04-2009, 8:49am
I'm in the camp that thinks this price is a steal for a much storied historical piece. I knew it would fetch much more than estimate... I'd have bought it for $7k, as I'm sure more than a few here would have.

AlanN
Dec-04-2009, 8:53am
To clear this up in my mind, this is the headstock overlay, made from pearwood, about 1/8" thick, right?

And what is on the Loar now? Was the replacement installed by Charlie?

Fretbear
Dec-04-2009, 9:13am
Dick Doan did the original black-dyed pearwood headstock overlay replacement and peghead repair in 1980 when he worked for Gibson. That was before #73987 got smashed and repaired by CD, but Charley would have had to have either repaired or replaced that new one as well.

tree
Dec-04-2009, 9:19am
If you can read between the winks and nudges, there is sufficient innuendo in this thread to figure out who the new owner is . . . I may be wrong, but I don't think it takes a real big leap. :whistling:

Darryl Wolfe
Dec-04-2009, 9:19am
To clear this up in my mind, this is the headstock overlay, made from pearwood, about 1/8" thick, right?

And what is on the Loar now? Was the replacement installed by Charlie?


This is the original 3/32" thick overlay to the mandolin made from pearwoor and having the original binding and "The" and flowerpot inlay. Gibson restored the peghead for Monroe as an act of mutual kiss and make up. This happened quite a few years prior to the vandal incident and it was while Gibson was still in Kalamazoo. It was during that peghead restoration that the original overlay ended up in the possession of the person that just auctioned it off.

thistle3585
Dec-04-2009, 10:06am
I notice that the headstock in Gail's picture, which was installed around about the early eighties, is in much worse condition then most Loar headstocks that are original. He sure wasn't very easy on them. I wonder what his "beater" looked like.

re simmers
Dec-04-2009, 10:13am
swampstomper,

"I would be proud to have that on my wall! Even my wife might be impressed."

I need my wife to talk to your wife. Mine is very tolerant of my mandolin geek activity.......buying mandolins, feverishly reading the latest cafe threads, etc. I doubt she would have been impressed as I am with Mon's headstock.

Bob

mikeyes
Dec-04-2009, 11:06am
John Hartford's original RB-18 (there is a long discussion about this on the banjohangout) went for $25,000 in the same auction. Now that was a buy since there are very few of them around. $37,000 may be a terrific bargain. Bernuzio has a converted RB-7 for sale for $60+.

The banjo had been modified, but credible BHO members who had played it stated that it only needed setup to become a great banjo again.

allenhopkins
Dec-04-2009, 11:24am
John Hartford's original RB-18...went for $25,000 in the same auction...only needed setup to become a great banjo again.

To me, that's the distinction. Someone can play Hartford's banjo. The headstock overlay of Monroe's mandolin is definitely a bluegrass icon, and by extension an icon of the American musical tradition. But it can't produce a note. All one can do is look at it -- and, frankly, it's not a Van Gogh. There are other similar headstocks out there, still attached to Loars of the same vintage. They didn't belong to Bill Monroe, and so don't have the "provenance" of this one, but they're still making music.

If you want to experience Bill Monroe's legacy, his recordings are available; you can get out your mandolin and play Raw Hide or Big Mon or When the Golden Leaves Begin To Fall. I respect the man, and I love his music, but I don't find this severed piece of his main instrument an object of worship. It's an autographed baseball that no one will ever pitch or hit again; it's Dorothy's ruby slippers that no owner would put on her feet.

But I hope it's making someone happy. I know I'm expressing a minority opinion, but I'd rather spend that kind of money on something capable of re-creating Monroe's music, not just his memory.

JEStanek
Dec-04-2009, 11:28am
Actually, the headstock is more like Van Gogh (ear or Gibson) than like a Van Gogh (painting)! It is definately a bluegrass relic (probably with similar associate relic mojo/powers to it's possesor).

Jamie

MikeEdgerton
Dec-04-2009, 11:54am
...and, frankly, it's not a Van Gogh....

More akin to Van Gogh's ear? :cool:

Jamie, you scare me. I didn't read your message till after I posted mine.

Spruce
Dec-04-2009, 11:57am
It is definately a bluegrass relic...

In my humble opinion, it is the quintessential bluegrass relic...

Ronnie L
Dec-04-2009, 12:02pm
What the heck! its only £22,699 in real money....bargain....;)

journeybear
Dec-04-2009, 12:15pm
... He sure wasn't very easy on them. I wonder what his "beater" looked like.

Take another look at it - this was his beater! ;)

sgarrity
Dec-04-2009, 1:35pm
It is definitely a cool piece of bluegrass history. And since his mandolin isn't for sale, might as well own a piece of it, right? The picture of this headstock has been my computer wallpaper since Bill Graham wrote a story about it!

Dave Gumbart
Dec-04-2009, 2:37pm
So, seems like a good time to market those "The" baseball caps, with the word Gibson intentionally missing. Someone referenced one of these once upon a time on this site. Did Mike Compton have one? Or just someone he might have seen at a festival?

Talk about a niche market. I'd buy one. Anyone recall this?

sgarrity
Dec-04-2009, 3:01pm
Mike Compton did have one. Not sure if he had it made or what. I thought it was hilarious!

Spruce
Dec-04-2009, 6:58pm
Mike Compton did have one. Not sure if he had it made or what. I thought it was hilarious!

Gibson is already marketing these...

You just need to painstakingly unembroider the "Gibson", and leave the "The"...
Or at least that's what Mike's is...

But, yeah, you'd sell quite a few of those...

Nick Triesch
Dec-04-2009, 9:33pm
One born every minute! Nick

Steevarino
Dec-04-2009, 10:42pm
So,.... who got it...?

Fretbear
Dec-04-2009, 11:09pm
You just need to painstakingly unembroider the "Gibson", and leave the "The"...
There is also an authentic version you can make using a "Pen"-knife, but those ones are harder to sell......

swampstomper
Dec-05-2009, 1:55am
swampstomper,


I need my wife to talk to your wife. Mine is very tolerant of my mandolin geek activity.......buying mandolins, feverishly reading the latest cafe threads, etc. I doubt she would have been impressed as I am with Mon's headstock.

Bob

Well, what I meant was, my wife may not care for Mon's music ("too nasal, too fast" -- she's more of a Seldom Scene type) but she recognizes him for the creative genius he was, and the ... ummm... "guts" he showed by gouging out the name. I remember her looking at that LP cover of High Lonesome Sound, where he's staring proudly out holding the gouged mando up for everyone to see. She has her own ornery streak and was quite impressed that apparently here was someone even more headstrong than herself! I took her to see Mon at a concert (SUNY Binghamton) in about 1973 and she still remembers his stage presence. So I think she would not be unhappy to have the headstock framed on the wall.

re simmers
Dec-05-2009, 1:26pm
Maybe that's it. My wife never saw Big Mon in person.

Yes, she is also more of a Seldom Scene type.........we saw them 4 times this year.

Paul Statman
Dec-05-2009, 8:14pm
I got it, and I'm not telling anyone I've got it! Just wait - once I get this faceplate installed on my F5, I'll sound just like Bill himself..I'll make a naffin' fortune. Mum's the word, though, remember..

45ACP-GDLF5
Dec-06-2009, 6:26pm
I wonder how many meals for Rescue Missions, the Salvation Army and other charities, would $37k buy during this time of year. Someone's got more money than they've got sense.

sgarrity
Dec-06-2009, 6:30pm
I'd imagine that anyone that can buy a $37k collectible item probably already donates heavily to charity, not that it's any of our business or concern. Besides, how much did Michael Jackson's glove sell for??? I'd rather have Mon's old gouged out headstock any day! Just sayin'.....

JEStanek
Dec-06-2009, 6:59pm
Yes, speculation on what people spend lots of money (could be as much as a $1K mandolin) vs needs of the world doesn't really help us understand any of the facts around such a purchase or what the buyer does with their monies. What should concern us as individuals is what we do with our monies.

Jamie

Paul Statman
Dec-06-2009, 7:23pm
I got it, and I'm not telling anyone I've got it! Just wait - once I get this faceplate installed on my F5, I'll sound just like Bill himself..I'll make meself a naffin' fortune. Mum's the word, though, remember..

..or maybe I'll just wear it as a pendant around my neck, and show it off 'round all 'the poorer quarters where the ragged people go'..looking for the places only they would know..:grin:

45ACP-GDLF5
Dec-06-2009, 7:38pm
:sleepy:

allenhopkins
Dec-06-2009, 8:22pm
..or maybe I'll just wear it as a pendant around my neck, and show it off 'round all 'the poorer quarters where the ragged people go'..looking for the places only they would know..:

Just stay off 7th Avenue, OK?

Paul Statman
Dec-06-2009, 8:52pm
Just stay off 7th Avenue, OK?

'dat your turf, den? :))

re simmers
Dec-06-2009, 9:22pm
I have to admit that I like collectables. If I could have it I would frame it over the fireplace. I'd probably get out that LP with the close-up of Bill holding it and set it on the mantle. I can't afford it, but......yep, I think it will be worth a lot more in 10 years than $37.5K in an annuity........should it need to be sold.

Bob

allenhopkins
Dec-06-2009, 10:45pm
'dat your turf, den?

Asking only workman's wages, I go looking for a job,
But I get no offers -- just a come-on from the whores on 7th Avenue;
I do declare, there were times that I was so lonesome,
I took some comfort there...La la la...

From The Boxer, as quoted above...

Nah, I'se gettin' my comfort elsewhere...

OKMike
Dec-06-2009, 11:17pm
Personally I'm waiting for the Bible Bill used to whack his wife over the head with. I wonder if it will show up at a big auction site? lol

Mike

Spruce
Dec-07-2009, 1:12pm
.....yep, I think it will be worth a lot more in 10 years than $37.5K in an annuity........should it need to be sold.


Everything gets sold...eventually.

And yeah, someone found something to invest in, which is hard to do these days.... ;)

sprucetop1
Dec-07-2009, 4:27pm
Just sitting here musing with a calculator. BM bought that F5 in 1943 and the peghead veneer was removed 37 years later in 1980. Lets assume that the mandolin was played on 300 out of 365 days per year on average throughout that span of years...that's over 11,000 gigs, jams, recording sessions, rehearsals....just think of what that veneer was witness to....as others have said....that's very serious mojo...........

evanreilly
Dec-07-2009, 5:41pm
I don't think a day went by that Bill Monroe didn't play #73987.

f5loar
Dec-07-2009, 6:06pm
Historians have been wrong for years on that faithful warm day in Jax, Florida when Bill was joined at the hip to the most famous Loar F5 ever made. It was Jan. 1945 as per research done by Tom Ewing and others and it was a cold afternoon only a few weeks later on Feb. 13, 1945 in Nashville, TN when he hit the first recorded break on it.
His old 30's F7 found a hiding place under his bed.
Bluegrass Special was the first instrumental he wrote for his new found sounding mandolin.
Actually Monroe thought for a long time it was 1941, then later he thought it was 1943. Sometimes he was just say it was a long time ago. Old people and their long term memory many times is not so exact.

8ch(pl)
Dec-08-2009, 7:45am
I wish they could sell Mr Bill's pocket knife, after all that's what he started all this with.

Tracy Tucker
Dec-11-2009, 10:50pm
Mike Compton did have one. Not sure if he had it made or what. I thought it was hilarious!

Mike still has it, and still wears it. Per Mike, a couple guys he knows bought him the hat, stitched with "The Gibson," and pulled the "Gibson" threads out and then sent it to him.

Bob Sayers
Dec-13-2009, 12:03am
Business Week yesterday (12 December) identified the underbidder for the headstock as the International Bluegrass Music Museum. The article includes an interesting conversation with museum director Gabrielle Gray about the auction and her unsuccessful attempt to get the headstock. The museum did, however, acquire the award given posthumously to Monroe following his induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Bob

JEStanek
Dec-13-2009, 1:33pm
On a similar note, a bottle of pre-French Revolution cognac sold in Paris for $37,000 (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=121229944). It's just money...

Jamie

f5loar
Dec-13-2009, 3:42pm
yeah there is probably several bottles of that liquor floating around but only one Monroe Loar headstock veneer. I was once offered a new DMM for $19K. I bet I could have gotten two of them for $37,500.
Two really great mandolins vs. something to look at on the wall.

Spruce
Dec-13-2009, 3:50pm
Two really great mandolins vs. something to look at on the wall.

I'll take the latter in a heartbeat... ;)

Glassweb
Dec-14-2009, 2:42pm
that was a smart play Tommy... ya dun good!

JEStanek
Dec-14-2009, 2:46pm
I can totally understand why folks would want this particular piece of Bluegrass history. It's still only money. 37,000 dollar bills isn't historic, Bill's headstock veneer is. Congratulations.

Jamie

journeybear
Aug-03-2010, 9:53am
Thanks to Scott for this excellent interview. (http://www.mandolincafe.com/news/publish/mandolins_001243.shtml) Now we know who bought it, and why, and a lot more besides. Great piece of journalism!

re simmers
Aug-08-2010, 8:11pm
Yep, and I'm glad it's in good hands. The headstock is simply a collectable, a museum piece, and unimportant to most people. But the story behind it, and the character of Monroe..........and the fact that it's purchased by the Carter-Cash family just adds to the story. As a Monroe fan and a hack mandolin picker, the headstock is important to me. If Monroe gouged it to draw attention, wow, it sure worked!

Bob

Willie Poole
Aug-19-2010, 10:52am
All of us that own Gibson F-5`s can do the same thing with our mandolins, or we could cut a head stock out of veneer and gouge out "Gibson" and claim it is the original....Wonder how many "Fakes" will pop up in the future?

The curl on my headstock was knocked off years ago and before I had it repaired people thought I just did it because Bill`s was that way....I think most of us are way too "crazy" when it come to mandolin things to collect......

I just love all of the history that F5 Loar adds to these posts, he is a great source of history on Monroe and Gibson mandolins, Big Joe is right in there also.....I always read what they have to say, they have a way of expressing themselves so that they are easily understood...Keep up the good work....

Willie