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Scott Tichenor
Apr-07-2011, 2:30pm
70713

Some of this information has appeared elsewhere on the web but I just heard about it and spoke with the author on the phone today. Spann's Guide To Gibson 1902-1941 is a 300 page book set to be published around the first of May and contains a lot of information I think many of us will be interested in reading. From what I gather, there are quite a few missing pieces of the Gibson puzzle that will be presented here. Just one piece of that is the names of most of the employees pre-WWII and of course with that comes some first-hand information. Joe is a genealogist by profession.

Here's a list of the contents of the book Joe (Spann) sent me:

Table of Contents:

Acknowledgements Page iii
Introduction Page iv
Chapter 1 - The Factory Page 1
Chapter 2 - The Employees Page 13
Chapter 3 – Vendors: 1925 - 1931 Page 45
Chapter 4 - Factory Order Numbers Page 63
Chapter 5 - Serial Numbers Page 189
Chapter 6 - Dealers & Wholesalers Page 193
Chapter 7 - Teacher-Agents Page 225
Chapter 8 - Artists & Endorsers Page 235
Chapter 9 - The Instruments Page 251
Appendix A – Gibson Banjo Models (1919-1941) Page 265
Appendix B – Gibson Production Totals Page 285
Appendix C – 1941 Production Costs Page 286
Appendix D – Gibson Ephemera Page 287
Sources Page 295

At the end there are eight pages of color photographs which show a small portion of Steve Huber's collection of rare Gibson ephemera.

There are 24 charts included, as listed here:

Gibson Employees: 1915 – 1945
Factory Order Numbers: 1902 – 1916 Series
Factory Order Numbers: 1917 – 1923 Series
Factory Order Numbers: 1924 – 1925 Series
Factory Order Numbers: 1925 Banjo Series
Factory Order Numbers: 1925 – 1931 Series
Factory Order Numbers: 1927 – 1928 Banjo Series
Factory Order Numbers: 1931 – 1933 Series
Factory Order Numbers: 1934 Series
Factory Order Numbers: 1935 Series
Factory Order Numbers: 1936 Series
Factory Order Numbers: 1937 Series
Factory Order Numbers: 1938 Series
Factory Order Numbers: 1939 Series
Factory Order Numbers: 1940 - 1945 Series
Numerical Serial Number Index: 1905 – 1947
Letter Prefix Serial Number Index: 1938 – 1940
Gibson Dealers: Circa 1935
Gibson Teacher-Agents: Individuals
Gibson Teacher-Agents: Schools & Studios
Gibson Endorsers: 1917 – 1942
Gibson Brand Instrument Models: 1903 – 1941
Kalamazoo Brand Instrument Models: 1933 – 1941
Recording King Brand Instrument Models 1929 – 1940

Ron Middlebrook at Centerstream tells me that we should have books to sell by the first week of May. The retail price is $39.99.

--------------

More to come on this bit of information...

Mike Black
Apr-07-2011, 2:53pm
Very cool! I want a copy. Sounds like a good birthday present doesn't it Scott? :) Thanks for the heads up.

Scott Tichenor
Apr-07-2011, 3:44pm
Indeed, Mike, you who shares the same birthday. You can get mine from Elderly (http://www.elderly.com/catalog/product/view/id/92390) :). Hmm, somehow I temporarily closed the thread there for a bit. Didn't mean to do that.

Jim Garber
Apr-07-2011, 4:33pm
Very interesting and thanks for the alert. Now, if they can solve the Handel tuner mystery...

Darryl Wolfe
Apr-08-2011, 6:41am
Very cool....he really knows his stuff and has a much broader interest in all things Gibson. He posts on the Martin Guitar Forum and is very respected. The Martin Forum has a vintage section that addresses all things with strings with the expected emphasis on Martin Guitars

Joe Spann
Apr-09-2011, 6:32am
Hello Everybody,

Thanks for the kind words about my soon-to-be book. The publisher (Centerstream) tells me that we should have copies available for sale by the first week of May. Distribution is through the Hal Leonard Organization, so almost every music store on the planet should be able to order them.

Additionally, I will be selling a limited number of autographed copies directly. The price will be $39.99 plus shipping. At this time I'm simply compiling a list of people who would be interested. If you would like to have your name added to this list, please send me an e-mail to banjospann@msn.com and I'll let you know when the books arrive!

Joe Spann

Gary Watkins
Apr-09-2011, 8:22am
Email sent. Count me in!

evanreilly
Apr-09-2011, 8:34am
Ahhh...
The mysteries of the FON revealed!!!!!

f5loar
Apr-09-2011, 11:23am
Bobby Osborne is going to be p***ed when he finds out his 1925 Fern is not a 1925 Fern!!!! Oh my!!!!!!!

Bill Halsey
Apr-09-2011, 11:51pm
Tom, do you mean Bobby's '26 Fern (84251)? As of a year ago, he had a complete pedigree on that one -- and on his Loar, as well.

f5loar
Apr-10-2011, 2:09am
Every interview I have seen of Bobby's he consistantly has always called his Fern a '25 including the one he just did for the cafe.
The Loar has a dated sticker of Dec. 1, 1924, no arguments there but his Fern is well past the '25 numbers and his FON will put it past '27. Grisman has a '25 Fern.
This new book is going to change lots of old dates that they thought they had.

Joe Spann
Apr-10-2011, 5:41am
The discussion about Bobby Osborne's F-5 (serial #84251 - FON 9140) provides an opportunity to demonstrate the kind of information available in my new book.

In chapter 4, there are detailed charts showing the chronology of the various series of Factory Order Numbers (FON's), along with an explanation of what they mean and how they were used. Batch #9140 was a group of F-5 mandolins which were produced in the latter part of 1928, say maybe September.

In chapter 5, there is a new, corrected index for numerical serial numbers, along with an explanation of how and when serial numbers were used. A serial number of 84251 means that Bobby's mandolin received it's final inspection in January 1929, had the paper label applied and was shipped.

So, my book helps us to understand that the mandolin was produced late in 1928 and shipped very early in 1929.

Joe

Bill Halsey
Apr-10-2011, 9:31am
Terrific!

f5loar
Apr-10-2011, 10:39am
He's going to be really p###ed now ! I already knew this but it's a shocker to someone who believes something was one date after having it for over 50 years.

Bill Halsey
Apr-10-2011, 4:00pm
I'd sooner think that the exact year would matter very little to the owner of such a fine sounding instrument. Bobby's a player, not a collector nor a speculator -- it is what it is, and always has been.
~o)

f5loar
Apr-10-2011, 4:45pm
Well if I had bought and paid dearly for what I thought was a nice '57 Chevy BelAir and it turned out 50 years later I had bought a '62 Chevy Nova it would make a difference no matter how fast it ran. Back when Bobby got his Fern from Charles Bailey about all he knew was it was not like Bill's cause it had more fancy pearl up there and didn't have that other label signed by some dude at Gibson with a date on it. He bought it on how it sounded and performed in his hands and he made a life long choice back then.

Ken Waltham
Apr-10-2011, 8:25pm
I've always felt that Bobby's Fern was a 1927, but, shipped in 1929 you say?? Built in late 1928??
What year are all the '29's then???
I am a little suspect here. Are they from the 30's?
I don't think so, myself.
Ken

f5loar
Apr-10-2011, 9:37pm
Ken, If you go back to those older vintage guides by Gruhn/Carter and others of the 20's/30's serial nos. they said they were only estimates using only approximent last numbers. It's only been in the past 6 years or less that documentation with dated receipts have changed those estimates both in banjos and mandolins. I've known for some time confirmed by Gibson that F5 no. 83660 shipped new in August of 1928. That number is before Osborne's which would put Osborne's in there around early 1929. What I am seeing is they made far less instruments during the great depression and before and after it then was first estimated. You got to admit those are some lean years for F5 production. Even the Great Yoda said "Few and far between the F5 they were."
So yeah, those we use to think were '29's are more like '32's and '33's. No doubt those luthiers making the signed Loars were still around in early 30's. You don't see a big change in the F5 until around early 1935 which also was a time begining in 1935 the FON were much easier to date. IMO the really good F5 luthiers had all retired by 1935 as you don't see any Loar like qualites after 1935.
Just as the Jim Mills book opened up new revelations on dating banjos this book by Joe will do the same.

Bill Halsey
Apr-11-2011, 12:03am
Well if I had bought and paid dearly for what I thought was a nice '57 Chevy BelAir and it turned out 50 years later I had bought a '62 Chevy Nova it would make a difference no matter how fast it ran. Back when Bobby got his Fern from Charles Bailey about all he knew was it was not like Bill's cause it had more fancy pearl up there and didn't have that other label signed by some dude at Gibson with a date on it. He bought it on how it sounded and performed in his hands and he made a life long choice back then.

Agree -- darned good choice, too. I imagine that $350 may indeed have been a dear price for a Fern in 1954, but I think he got his money's worth.

BTW, Bobby said it was people at Gibson who told him that, judging from the serial number, it was a 1925 Fern with a dot on the 3rd fret. He also said that a couple of years ago George Gruhn had eventually changed his own opinion from 1925 to 1926 on this instrument. But, that was then.

It takes a great deal of experience and self-confidence for a heavyweight appraiser to change his own long-standing opinion on a well-known instrument. At that level they know they must never stop learning, and that opinions are just that. This was one of Dario D'Attili's great strengths -- he'd never try to cover if he had to revise an opinion. He may have had to eat crow now and then, but he certainly had the highest respect of everyone in the industry.

It seems unlikely to me that subtle historical date changes within such an enormous body of work as 39 years of Gibson production will have much effect on the valuation of most of the individual instruments of that period. Many pieces from those years may get moved around a little bit, but we will be richer for coming closer to knowing what the instruments have always known.

f5loar
Apr-11-2011, 1:44am
The good people at Gibson, bless their hearts have been giving out wrong vintage dates for decades. They can't figure out a 60's from a 70's as numbers were used over again. They know less about their past then their future. I suspect George will be re-writting quite a few of his $50 appraisals after this book comes out. But does he get another $50 for going back to correct something he did wrong?

Darryl Wolfe
Apr-11-2011, 12:02pm
Joes work fits perfectly with what I have been suspecting for a long time. Instruments did not simply change overnight with regard to parts, inlay and finish when Loar left ....and they spent several years ridding themselves of backlog instruments before bulding completely new ones of certain types. We all along had validated proof that many Loar signed instruments were shipped new up into 1926. That fact alone puts many (what we thought) 1925, 1926 1927 instruments as suspect regarding their true date of manufacture

Great work Joe

thistle3585
Apr-11-2011, 12:13pm
The good people at Gibson, bless their hearts have been giving out wrong vintage dates for decades. They can't figure out a 60's from a 70's as numbers were used over again. They know less about their past then their future. I suspect George will be re-writting quite a few of his $50 appraisals after this book comes out. But does he get another $50 for going back to correct something he did wrong?

I don't think he did anything wrong. He made the best appraisal with the best information available to him at the time. Do we expect values to change all that much? Well, seeing how Bobby's mandolin went from a '25 to a '29 then I wonder if mine will jump in to the Loar era.

I just feel bad for whomever is going to have to go back and update the Mandolin Archive. :)

Bill Halsey
Apr-11-2011, 12:29pm
As Andrew said...

I believe the point here is that Gruhnís appraisals were not wrong when he wrote them. He was going on his lifetime of experience, based on the information available to him at the time, in the way he gathered it. Connoisseurship is an ongoing process, and it is public faith in an appraiserís integrity that gives his work value. If he accepts more recent work by another to be trustworthy, then itís up to him to call the shots on his own opinions.

Relatively, this is nickel-dime stuff. To give this a little perspective, letís consider that the fact that 84251 is a Gibson mandolin is unquestioned. We are only looking at a few years difference in itís year of manufacture, which is not likely to alter its market value. The fact that it has been a famous musicianís instrument of choice for over 50 years may have as much to do with its value.

Instruments of the violin family may have great potential market value, but with so many imitations and counterfeits made over several centuries, provenance becomes of central importance in those appraisals. Thus, an appraiserís opinion can make or break the value of a given fiddle or bow. These papers are often issued by dealers at a percentage of the instrumentís appraised value (sound like a conflict of interest?), and can cost thousands, even tens of thousands of dollars, since it is the appraisal that establishes the market value. This is one factor that distinguished DíAttili as a professional appraiser following his retirement from the Rembert Wurlitzer shop -- he was not a dealer, no longer represented one, and had no vested interest in any particular instrument.

Darryl Wolfe
Apr-11-2011, 12:46pm
I'm with Andrew and Bill on this one. We know a bit more about Mars now than we did in 1970 too. The facts at the time are the facts at the time. The more info we get the more we know and adjustments get made

It was not that long ago that we had one single 1922 F5 being known of and then nothing else before February of 1923, and there were only three prototype "1924 Fern Loars"

danb
Apr-11-2011, 3:14pm
I just feel bad for whomever is going to have to go back and update the Mandolin Archive. :)

It's bad enough trying to keep up with submissions :grin:

I'm really looking forward to the information here. The big motivation for me to do the archive was always to collect more primary evidence to see what we could find out.

Information we've had to work with has always been patchy- filling in the holes with more documentation and evidence is really the best way forward. I fully expect information to crop up almost weekly that challenges theories and assumptions I've made. I'm looking forward to seeing what's been uncovered, even if it does mean writing some programs to update the estimated date to serial to FON correlations!

mrmando
Apr-11-2011, 4:29pm
Well, seeing how Bobby's mandolin went from a '25 to a '29 then I wonder if mine will jump in to the Loar era.
I don't think so, but I might be wrong. In terms of serial numbers, we can define "Loar era" as any serial number that falls between the earliest and latest signed Loar instruments. IIRC, yours is well before the Loar era by that measure. Joe can tell us whether his book contains information that compels us to redefine the Loar era, but it would have to be a different kind of information than the revelation about Osborne's Fern.

thistle3585
Apr-11-2011, 4:37pm
Well, it was wishful thinking. Although when I did a search on my FON, I found another mandolin listed at Elderly that shared my FON but was from the late twenties or early thirties. I'll need to go back and check. I assumed they reused them like serial numbers?

mrmando
Apr-11-2011, 4:42pm
Now that's interesting. I don't know the answer to that. Yours is a Cremona brown "reissue A2," 1919ish, right? I do not think FONs were reused, but I guess we'll have to read Joe's book for the definitive answer.

thistle3585
Apr-11-2011, 6:15pm
I don't know what the "re-issue" means but yes it is a 1919 A2 with a FON of 11149. There is a 1924 Mandola in the Archives, 78263, which shares the same FON. Sorry, I don't want to hijack the thread. I look forward to the publication of the book and the discussion to follow.

Ken Waltham
Apr-11-2011, 6:30pm
Just in from work, and Tom, I find that quite interesting. I have to get a hold of this book, and learn more.
I am puzzled though. I do not doubt the validity of this research, I just wonder... are there any 1925's then?
I mean, there are definately 1924 F5's, you only have to look at the label. When are the next ones made? I have had two or three 1927 Ferns, but, now they are 1929's? I can handle that, but, which ones are post Loar? I mean the very next ones? Only the unsigned Loars??
Joe, if you are out there, I have to have this book.
Ken

Joe Spann
Apr-11-2011, 7:11pm
Hello Ken,

I'd be happy to sell you a copy of the book!

To answer one question, Gibson used the factory order numbers (FON's) over and over and over and over again. After a specific batch of instruments was produced and shipped there was no reason not to use that same number again. At Gibson the factory order numbers were used to track the amount of raw materials, sub-assemblies, and labor which were used during the production of any particular batch. This allowed the accounting department to accurately calculate costs, management to assign wholesale and retail prices, and the procurement department to re-order everything needed to build the next batch.

Joe

MikeEdgerton
Apr-11-2011, 7:15pm
So the process of dating an instrument by FON can't be considered accurate? Were there unique FON's?

f5loar
Apr-11-2011, 7:30pm
Dan, don't forget Darryl is still about 300 photos behind of just the '22 through '42 era F5s.

Joe Spann
Apr-11-2011, 9:53pm
Hello Mike,

A Gibson FON is still the most accurate method of determining a production date. However, because Gibson used the same numbers over and over again, you will need the charts in my book to determine the production year. It isn't a straight-forward process and before I created the FON charts it was nearly impossible.

A Gibson serial number is the most accurate way of determining a shipping date. This is because serial numbers were applied at the time of final inspection, just prior to shipping.

Joe

f5loar
Apr-12-2011, 12:15am
And the problem with that is many prewar banjos only had FON and no serial nos. and the same for many low end mandolins and guitars. The F5,F4,F7,F10,F12 and some A model mandolins did have serial nos.
Even with repeat FON you still need to know some knowledge about model changes and parts and when that came into being.

Joe Spann
Apr-12-2011, 5:13am
The situation is further complicated by evidence that some instruments like the Loar F-5's and the earliest Nick Lucas Special guitars may have had numerical serial numbers reserved in advance of production.

All pre-war Gibson instruments were produced under a factory order number, but only some of them also received a serial number. The FON may or may not appear on the instrument. If no FON appears, then as Tom says, the best method of determining a production date is by examination of constructional features. Determining a shipping date for an instrument built prior to March 1935 (when the shipping ledgers begin) is impossible if the instrument has no serial number.

It is important to make a clear distinction between the production date and the shipping date. Some instruments were built and shipped immediately, showing a FON and a serial number in close chronological agreement. Other instruments were produced and hung around the factory for years. These instruments reveal early FON's and later serial numbers.

Joe

danb
Apr-12-2011, 5:50am
Dan, don't forget Darryl is still about 300 photos behind of just the '22 through '42 era F5s.

Yes Sir, I am ready and willing to get them in. It takes a lot of time to collate them all- one of these days I will need to get over for a visit so we can all have an information snyc-up!

Andrew B. Carlson
Apr-12-2011, 8:15am
I don't know why we're celebrating the arrival of this book. It could mean the end of half the discussion in this forum. We'll have too many answers! Ignorance and speculation is bliss people! ;)

Darryl Wolfe
Apr-12-2011, 10:11am
I don't know why we're celebrating the arrival of this book. It could mean the end of half the discussion in this forum. We'll have too many answers! Ignorance and speculation is bliss people! ;)


Come on Andrew....there will always be something to argue about :))

thistle3585
Apr-12-2011, 10:18am
I don't know why we're celebrating the arrival of this book. It could mean the end of half the discussion in this forum. We'll have too many answers! Ignorance and speculation is bliss people! ;)

The Bobby Osborne issue aside, I feel sorry for Joe because you know that he's going to get challenged on something that someone isn't going to want to hear about their mandolin. :)

Darryl Wolfe
Apr-12-2011, 12:29pm
I take no credit for any of this, but the issue has been festering for several years now. This is the answer to all the "sent back to the factory" crap that I have been challenging for a while now. When we see the data, It should all become clear. We have focused on mandolins, but Joe's research includes all things Gibson and that is the trump card in the deck

MikeEdgerton
Apr-12-2011, 1:00pm
And the problem with that is many prewar banjos only had FON and no serial nos. and the same for many low end mandolins and guitars. The F5,F4,F7,F10,F12 and some A model mandolins did have serial nos.
Even with repeat FON you still need to know some knowledge about model changes and parts and when that came into being.

The no serial number thing was what concerns me, we get messages posted frequently about instruments with no serial numbers. The production specs are always helpful but numbers always seem to point you in the right direction. I can't wait to see the book.

JeffD
Apr-12-2011, 2:19pm
The way this is going, someday we will be able to look at those old mandolin orchestra pictures and string band pictures and know where those instruments are today. Its kind of oookie to think about it, but every single one you see, if it hasn't been destroyed, is out there somewhere. I would love (LOVE) to get a picture of a band or orchestra from the late 20s, and know that in my hands is the second row third mandolin from the left.

OK, one can dream, can't he?

Glassweb
Apr-12-2011, 2:35pm
Come on Andrew....there will always be something to argue about :))

Amen to that Darryl!

brunello97
Apr-12-2011, 10:50pm
Jeff, I like where your post is heading. I think Jim Garber was able to track the production of his Embergher to the actual workbench of the guy who was sitting next to Luigi himself. This obviously led to discussion as to whether the maestro got his hands on this mandolin as well. As you say it is amazing to start linking up these databases between the factory, the historical image and the (still with us) mandolin itself. I've got a 1916A and you bet I'll be getting a copy of Joe's book with your very question in mind.

Mick

thistle3585
Apr-13-2011, 7:48am
I know that tradesmen from that era in other fields would often discreetly put their initials or a "mark" to show that they did work on a project. Has anyone ever seen that in an instrument? Also, does anyone know if an employee worked and instrument all the way through the building process or was it more like a production line where a worker was responsible for completing a couple tasks?

MikeEdgerton
Apr-13-2011, 8:34am
I know that tradesmen from that era in other fields would often discreetly put their initials or a "mark" to show that they did work on a project. Has anyone ever seen that in an instrument?

Sim Daley when he was at Gibson come to mind.

Scott Tichenor
Apr-14-2011, 6:23am
Fretboard Journal is reporting on their Twitter feed that they've done an audio interview with Joe and will be publishing it today but didn't say when. I don't have a link to that at the moment but will try to add it at some point.

Joe Spann
Apr-14-2011, 9:35am
Fretboard Journal is reporting on their Twitter feed that they've done an audio interview with Joe and will be publishing it today but didn't say when. I don't have a link to that at the moment but will try to add it at some point.

Yup.

MikeEdgerton
Apr-14-2011, 8:35pm
I pre-ordered my copy today. I took a look at the Amazon site where they are showing the preview and it looks great. A valuable addition to the reference library on vintage instruments.

Lowell Levinger
Apr-20-2011, 1:55pm
Besides Amazon, etc. You can also order directly from Joe.

Scott Tichenor
Apr-21-2011, 11:35am
For those of you that haven't listened to the Fretboard Journal podcast interview with Joe Spann (http://www.fretboardjournal.com/podcast/fretboard-journal-podcast-36-vintage-gibson-historian-joe-spann)--I'm just getting around to it today--it's marvelous. If you're following this story, it's a must hear.

Joe Spann
Apr-22-2011, 10:58am
Thanks for the kind words about the Fretboard Journal podcast Scott.

The pre-orders for "Spann's Guide to Gibson 1902-1941" are very strong.

I appreciate all the interest shown here at Mandolin Cafe and at other websites around the 'net.

Joe

Mike Black
Apr-22-2011, 11:34am
For those of you that haven't listened to the Fretboard Journal podcast interview with Joe Spann (http://www.fretboardjournal.com/podcast/fretboard-journal-podcast-36-vintage-gibson-historian-joe-spann)--I'm just getting around to it today--it's marvelous. If you're following this story, it's a must hear.

I agree...Great podcast. Really makes me want to get my hands on the book.

Utility Picker
Apr-23-2011, 9:26pm
I've got two numbers on my Gibson F-2. One on the label, and one on the wood where the neck joins the body. The number on the label is 36910. The number on the wood is 3420. Which one is the serial number?

Thanks. UP

f5loar
Apr-23-2011, 10:29pm
The label carries the serial number always. The FON is stamped elsewhere usually on the neck block in round holes or on the back as seen through the lower F hole in F models.

Utility Picker
Apr-23-2011, 10:58pm
The label carries the serial number always. The FON is stamped elsewhere usually on the neck block in round holes or on the back as seen through the lower F hole in F models.
Thanks f5loar. I wasn't sure which was which. The F-2 I have has the oval soundhole.

Joe Spann
Apr-24-2011, 6:26am
The information provided by Utility Picker gives an excellent example for illustrating the differences between Gibson serial numbers and factory order numbers.

The factory order number (FON) is linked to production. It is the best indicator of when any pre-war Gibson instrument was produced. In this example the FON 3420 indicates that the F-2 was manufactured around April of 1916.

The serial number is linked to warranty issues. In the absence of shipping ledger information, it is the best indicator of when a pre-war Gibson instrument was shipped. In this example the serial number indicates that the F-2 was shipped around October of 1916.

So, it would seem that Utility Picker's F-2 mandolin hung around the factory for a while before being sold.

This is an example of the type of information that can be derived from the charts in "Spann's Guide to Gibson 1902-1941."

Joe

Bob Sayers
Apr-24-2011, 5:36pm
I'm really looking forward to Joe's book, too. But I already have a couple of questions based on the discussion in this thread. If the FON is linked to the date of production and the serial number is linked to the shipping date, does this mean that the serial number was added after production (e.g., was penciled in through the soundhole or, alternatively, the label was pasted in through the soundhole)? This seems pretty awkward. But maybe I didn't quite understand the foregoing comment.

I also noted Darryl's comment that speculation about mandolins being "sent back to the factory" for refurbishing would probably subside when we see the data. But there's another possibility that I gleened from the Amazon.com preview of Joe's book: namely, that Gibson instruments might have been sent back to the factory after they'd hung around a dealer's showroom for awhile without being sold. Mandolins, especially the expensive models, probably weren't selling like hotcakes by the late 1920s and 1930s and this seems like a real possibility. Has anyone raised this point before?

Excuse me if I'm rehashing something that's already been discussed. But I suspect we'll see alot more questions of this sort once we have our copies of Joe's book.

Bob

Joe Spann
Apr-25-2011, 5:08am
Hello Bob,

Your understanding of FON vs. serial number is correct. The paper serial number labels were applied during "final inspection" just prior to shipping. Completed instruments sometimes sat around at the factory for long periods of time before being shipped, thus creatng a disparity between their FON (production date) and serial number (shipping date.) This statement is based on eyewitness testimony.

Having said that, there is MUCH observed evidence that some instruments like the Loar period Master Models (F-5, L-5, etc., etc.), and Nick Lucas Specials had serial numbers reserved in advance. I have no problem with that. But the paper labels were still applied during final inspection.

Joe

thistle3585
Apr-25-2011, 7:40am
I would assume that the the numbers reserved for the Loar instruments would have been sequential, or somehow different than any other number, so will that tell us how many Loar instruments were shipped? Would they have used the same style of number on an L-5 as an F-5?

Joe Spann
Apr-25-2011, 8:04am
I would assume that the the numbers reserved for the Loar instruments would have been sequential, or somehow different than any other number, so will that tell us how many Loar instruments were shipped? Would they have used the same style of number on an L-5 as an F-5?

The serial numbers used on Loar instruments were the same as any other in use at that time, which is to say they were a simple numerical counting number. No alphabetic letters, prefixes, suffixes, etc., etc. The serial numbers used on Loar instruments also appear to be sequential and grouped together. This is not to say the occasional "lone wolf" didn't occur.

We still don't have a complete accounting of the Loar instruments because the shipping ledgers for that period (1919-1924) have not been located and to my knowledge no original Gibson-generated registry of serial numbers exists. What we do have is various compiled lists of numerical serial numbers, produced from observed examples. The numerical serial number series appears to have run from about 2,500 through 99,999. My own personal, compiled, numerical serial number list contains 20,000 examples...about 20% of the total numbers issued.

Joe

thistle3585
Apr-25-2011, 8:25am
Thanks. Joe. Were you able to gain access to and any information from Gibson's archives? I had wondered if any of that information was lost in the flooding.

Joe Spann
Apr-25-2011, 8:34am
Thanks. Joe. Were you able to gain access to and any information from Gibson's archives? I had wondered if any of that information was lost in the flooding.

No. I did not request any input from the present-day Gibson company in researching my book. My sources were the original employees and their children, pre-war company documents in private collections around the world, compiled sources like my serial number and FON lists, and publicly held records like the federal census, city directories, newspaper obits, etc., etc.

Joe

JeffD
Apr-25-2011, 10:08am
This stuff is so cool.

Joe Spann
Apr-30-2011, 2:17pm
I'm hearing that copies of "Spann's Guide to Gibson 1902-1941" ordered from Elderly Instruments or Amazon are arriving.

Personally, I do not have any copies of the book at this time.

Those of you who asked to be placed on my waiting list will receive an e-mail with payment instructions as soon as I get the books.

Thanks for waiting patiently.

Joe

MikeEdgerton
Apr-30-2011, 2:40pm
Amazon sent my shipping notice today.

bones12
Apr-30-2011, 7:46pm
Mine arrived from Elderly today; after yardwork I settled into a porch chair with a cold beer and this fine fine book. There is a lot of information here. From my time living in Kalamazoo 35 years ago, I recognize many names, faces and places. This is a great tome and a labor of love. Doug in Vermont

Utility Picker
May-01-2011, 12:31am
Joe - - - I was negligent to thank you for mentioning my post, with the query about the fon number and the serial number. I appreciate having your input on the mandolin that I've got, and an accurate dating of when it was made/ shipped/ etc. I had been told (when I bought the F-2) that it was made in 1917 or 1918. The seller wasn't sure of which, but he's a pretty knowledgeable guy when it comes to mandolins and such. I think I'll buy a copy of your book, and have it sent to him so he can get his (already pretty accurate facts) straight in the future! :)

It's nice to know my mandolin is older than I thought it was. :cool:

UP

Charles Johnson
May-01-2011, 12:53am
Joe,
Will this be available as an E book? That information would be very handy to have in an easily accessible/portable electronic form.
Thanks,
Charles

Joe Spann
May-01-2011, 6:14am
Hello Charles,

There are provisions in my publishing contract which clear the way for the creation of an e-book version, but that will be up to the Hal Leonard Organization. I agree that an electronic version would be particularly helpful for people like yourself. Enjoyed meeting you at the recent Orlando Vintage Guitar Show.

Joe

Annette Siegel
May-02-2011, 7:40pm
I am enjoying my book...very much...just one thing...I can't seem to find any mention of Handel tuners???

Joe Spann
May-05-2011, 11:20am
I am enjoying my book...very much...just one thing...I can't seem to find any mention of Handel tuners???

Hey Nettles,

I am not an expert on Handel tuners, but my resources indicate that Gibson used them from 1906 through 1918. Is that what is commonly believed?

Joe

Annette Siegel
May-05-2011, 11:35am
Hey Nettles,

I am not an expert on Handel tuners, but my resources indicate that Gibson used them from 1906 through 1918. Is that what is commonly believed?

Joe

Thank you for your reply! I'm not an expert either on Handel tuners....and I also have heard that Handel tuners were used from that time period as well and discontinued because of the war? Just thought I might have been missing something...no disrespect to your hard work on this book.

thistle3585
May-05-2011, 11:44am
Hey Nettles,

I am not an expert on Handel tuners, but my resources indicate that Gibson used them from 1906 through 1918. Is that what is commonly believed?

Joe

Here are some interesting dates in regards to Handels. I have them being used from 1904-1915 but they do appear as late as 1918 on instruments. Also, Handel did not incorporate until 1911 and continued in business until 1946. The Handel "factory" was cleaned out about 1964, several years after Louis' death, and just about everything was thrown away by the family.

Backlineman
May-05-2011, 12:38pm
Got a pre-order copy from Amazon today. This is right up my alley. Really looking forward to using this book as a research tool for my ongoing family history project, as my great grandfather was a Gibson teacher/agent in the teens and twenties. Thanks to the author and contributors for all the hard work. :mandosmiley:

MikeEdgerton
May-05-2011, 5:05pm
My Amazon copy arrived today as well. It will take me a few weeks to get through it. It looks to be a worthwhile addition to the library although I have a question about the Jos. B. Rogers information. I live a few miles from where they had their factory and I'm nowhere near the location listed.

Joe Spann
May-06-2011, 5:02am
.....I have a question about the Jos. B. Rogers information. I live a few miles from where they had their factory and I'm nowhere near the location listed.

In his concerts Chet Atkins used to say, "I have to throw in a few mistakes so you'll know this isn't a recording." Mike, I'll check on my source for the location of the Jos B. Rogers factory and get back to you. It's very possible that the difference is the location of the Administrative Offices and the Factory itself. In that day and time they were often two different places.

Joe

Joe Spann
May-06-2011, 7:39am
Hey Mike,

My source for the location of Joseph B. Rogers Jr. & Son is Gibson's original pre-war financial records.

Here's what they say....

In April of 1925 Gibson owed them $146.92 and the payment was sent to Joseph B. Rogers Jr. & Son, Farmingdale, New Jersey.

In April of 1927 Gibson owed them $1.69 and the payment was sent to Joseph B. Rogers Jr. & Son, Farmingdale, New Jersey.

In April of 1931 Gibson owed them $118.50 and the payment was sent to Joseph B. Rogers Jr. & Son, Berlin, New York.

In my book, I used the Berlin, New York location because it was the most recent one. I'm not an expert in the history of the Joseph B. Rogers Jr. & Son Company. Did they move between 1927 and 1931? Was the administrative office in one location and the factory in another? Were they purchased by another company with offices in the Berlin, New York location? Did the stock market crash of October 1929 precipitate a change in location? I'm certain there's a story here....

Joe

MikeEdgerton
May-06-2011, 7:54am
Well OK, the answer is here. It was run in both places (actually the New York location is shown as a different town but I'm going to guess they are close to each other). The company was the pride of Farmingdale, New Jersey. The folks at Covington even have it wrong, they are saying Framingham, NJ. No such place to my knowledge.

Joe Spann
May-06-2011, 8:30am
Excellent Mike, and thanks for teaching me something today!

So, now we know that the factory was in New Jersey, but the tannery was in New York. It could be that Gibson sent payments to each location depending on what was being purchased.

Joe

Charles Johnson
May-07-2011, 7:53pm
Joe,
Fantastic book! This has been needed for years.

I have a further question re: FON vs. serial number. My understanding is that the serial number is written directly on the back of the instrument and the oval label was later placed over it. Unless they were writing through the sound hole - possible I suppose but awkward - it would seem the serial number was written in at the time of production as well.

Your thoughts?

Again, great book!
Thanks,
Charles

Joe Spann
May-07-2011, 8:11pm
I have a further question re: FON vs. serial number. My understanding is that the serial number is written directly on the back of the instrument and the oval label was later placed over it. Unless they were writing through the sound hole - possible I suppose but awkward - it would seem the serial number was written in at the time of production as well.

Charles,

It is true that some models have been observed with a numerical-type serial number written in pencil on the inside of the instrument. This is usually found when the paper label is taken out or falls off. On page 189, second paragraph of "Spann's Guide" you will see that these examples seem to be confined mostly to the most expensive models. Gibson naturally produced fewer of these and may have in fact reserved groups of numerical serial numbers in advance of production for them. Never say never with Gibson. Inconsistency was the word of the day...and the month....and the year.

Joe

MikeEdgerton
May-07-2011, 9:14pm
Excellent Mike, and thanks for teaching me something today!

So, now we know that the factory was in New Jersey, but the tannery was in New York. It could be that Gibson sent payments to each location depending on what was being purchased.

Joe

It could be that the accounting department moved back and forth with whomever was running the company and where they chose to live as well. Either way it's good to know that Gibson showed both locations in their records.

Charles Johnson
May-09-2011, 9:26pm
Makes sense. Thanks Joe!

Never say never with Gibson. Inconsistency was the word of the day...and the month....and the year.

How true - even today!

Jack Roberts
Jun-21-2011, 11:08pm
Well, I noticed that one of the instruments I have been caring for, the Jeanette Green F4, which I was lead to believe was from 1915, has had its date moved back to 1913 on the Mandolin Archives. I suppose the other instruments I have been entrusted with are older than I think as well?

I suppose I have to buy the book.

woodwizard
Jun-22-2011, 12:24am
My Gibson A4 was also moved back one year to 1918

f5loar
Jun-22-2011, 12:47pm
one of mine went from 1926 to 1929 so it can go the other way too.

Jack Roberts
Jun-22-2011, 1:09pm
I don't understand my own mind, but to have the F-4 go back to 1913 was a little shocking. Since high school I always though that modern history started with the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in 1914, so maybe I'll have to move my thinking back to Woodrow Wilson's inauguration so I can still consider my instrument new enough to play, rather than a museum piece.

I have a new respect for Jeanette Greene's F-4, as it has "lived" through a lot of history and there are few people left as old as it is.

I've ordered the book from Joe.

Backlineman
Jun-22-2011, 5:55pm
I've posted a review of the book on my Web Log Iversmandolinorchestra.blogspot.com

Anyone agree with my critique?

Dusty
Jun-22-2011, 10:37pm
The un-mentioned thing thus far is how will the new dating effect pricing and valuation, especially, for the 26-27 Ferns that now show shipping dates of 28-29. Anyone in the know care to opine?

DerTiefster
Jun-22-2011, 11:17pm
I would expect that rather than the instruments' being re-valued, the desirable dates would simply change to match the same instruments as were desired before. Seems consistent to me. No one said it was the stars' positions in the sky that made the instruments valuable to anyone. Oh, wait...there was that astrologer, somewhere.

Nah. I think that the desirable dates will change, and not much else.

Bill Halsey
Jun-22-2011, 11:41pm
This F-4 #14883 got bumped back a couple of years to 1911, which makes more sense with its dark wine color, and the fingerboard detail at the 20th fret held over from the 3-pointers.

73550 73551

f5loar
Jun-24-2011, 1:44pm
In so much as the previous '28 to '29s are now really more like '31 to '32 it should not make in difference in the value. Those years mandolins are priced on sound and condition not the year made. Loars do matter as to the date. All it means is they made really good F5s longer then first thought likely due to the same guys were still making them after Loar left. It's when those guys died or retired out things begin to change in the F5.

Scott Tichenor
Jun-25-2011, 11:13am
Vintage Gibson geeks with an interest in Joe's book will want to check out the surprise interview we'll publish tomorrow evening. Watch the Cafe home page. No, the interview isn't with Joe, but I think you'll enjoy it just as much.

Jack Roberts
Jun-26-2011, 3:21pm
Vintage Gibson geeks....

Vintage Gibson geeks! Well, I like that! Can I be a VGG without a Loar?

Bill Van Liere
Jun-26-2011, 3:59pm
Vintage Gibson geeks! Well, I like that! Can I be a VGG without a Loar?

$1500 or so will get ya a 24 Jr.

Gary Hedrick
Jun-26-2011, 4:02pm
Well I have always been looking for another three letter acroynm to describe myself ...this one fits me well though VGG.....I like the sound of it!!!

Better that POS, FOS, OTH, and the four letter OFWW ...

uncle ken
Jun-30-2011, 8:41pm
I thought Iíd share the story of my old Gibson F5 to help show the value to us VGGs of Joeís work. I would also like to add my thanks and my appreciation for all the research that he put into it.

When I bought my Gibson F5 more than twenty years ago, I thought that I was buying a well-worn 1929 Fern with SN 88144. Using the old serial number dating method, 1929 would have been the accepted year that it was made. I was told that the owner had bought it from Dave Apollon while playing in his Desert Inn Las Vegas band back in the 1960s. Iím sorry to say that I had never heard of Dave Apollon so it didnít much influence my decision to buy it. I did go and get a copy of the Dave Apollon compilation album soon after, so I became more familiar over time with who he was and his legacy. The mandolin had the Apollon telltales like a missing high fret and an aluminum saddle that was stashed in the case.

As I became more knowledgeable about F5s mostly by looking at and playing other peopleís old Loars and Ferns, I came to realize that the stain color on mine looked more like those made during the 1930s even though the serial number pointed to it being from 1929. I should mention that the first two digits of the serial number are very faded but appear to be 88 if you look real hard. The FON (1071) is clearly readable though. So when I heard about Joeís new book I was eager to find out more. As soon as I received a copy of the book I looked up the FON. It showed up as being manufactured in 1934, which is somewhat later than the original assumed date of 1929. I sent Joe a picture of the FON and asked if he had any records of F5s from this batch. He had records of three F5s with this same FON. He asked for the serial number so I sent him a photo of the number with the faded digits. The next day I got the following message:

Hey Ken,

Man, have I have some GOOD news for you.

I color manipulated the F-5 label photo you sent and was able to make out serial #91144.

Went to the shipping ledgers and BINGO! There it was.

Gibson first shipped this mandolin on 19 June 1935 as a "salesman's sample" and sent it to their New England representative Robert Anderson. It evidently didn't sell and was returned. On 6 September 1935 it was shipped again, this time to "DAVE APPOLLON." He evidently returned it for some work and Gibson shipped it a third and final time on
24 October 1935 to "D. APPOLLON."

How about that? You have a certified 1934 Apollon F-5 mandolin.

Congratulations!

Joe

DerTiefster
Jun-30-2011, 8:45pm
What a marvelous story! Congratulation, and long may you play it. Thanks for sharing. I tried to get such history info about the mandolins I've been able to purchase, but the stories don't go back very deeply in the owner tree.

Joe Spann
Jul-01-2011, 6:24am
Thanks for the kind words Ken. I was happy to help you document your "Dave Apollon" F-5.

Joe

danb
Jul-01-2011, 6:54am
This F-4 #14883 got bumped back a couple of years to 1911, which makes more sense with its dark wine color, and the fingerboard detail at the 20th fret held over from the 3-pointers.


Hi Bill, does that F4 have a legible FON?

Joe Spann
Jul-01-2011, 8:35am
Hi Bill, does that F4 have a legible FON?

I'm guessing the FON is 1789.

f5loar
Jul-06-2011, 11:48pm
There are several "Apollon" F5 owners on the cafe. Almost like a car when ole Dave got a few hundred thousand miles on his F5s he got a new one and would sell the used one at the then current new price. He always kept at least two F5s during his long F5 career from 1923 to 1972. His last F5 from Gibson in 1962 was pearl inlayed in the headstock "Apollon Special by Gibson" so there would be no misunderstanding to whom it belonged to. In addition to removing the next to the last fret to hit his trade mark high "G" note he prefered the sound of the teen's Gibson alum. bridge top and he never used a strap while standing.

Bill Halsey
Jul-07-2011, 9:26am
Hi Bill, does that F4 have a legible FON?

Yes it does, Dan -- Joe nailed it: FON 1789.

This one came back from England a few years ago (sorry, Dan...), but bears no export "Made In USA" stamp. Maybe it was not necessary then, or it may have been taken there by its owner.

Although its S/N 14883 would suggest that it shipped in 1912, there are a couple of hand-written entries on the back and label, indicating 1913 -- perhaps when it was received in England(?).

74062

Also, interestingly, this one has ivory points (not dovetailed, but surely original).

uncle ken
Jul-07-2011, 3:37pm
To F5 Loar - Maybe all the owners should get together some day for a DA mandolin reunion.

f5loar
Jul-07-2011, 4:12pm
Perhaps at the next LoarFest in which all prewar F5s are welcomed to attend.

Eric Foulke
Jul-15-2011, 11:13am
This stuff is just fascinating.
I was just putting together an instrument description for my great-grandfathers Gibson A-4 for inclusion in the "Venerables" display at the upcoming GAL when I thought about this thread. I had always thought that this mandolin was a 1908 based upon information from Gibson, but looking at the Mandolin Archives I noted a similar A-4 with a later serial number, confirmed by the book to be 1906. So I am guessing that this mando is actually a 1906. SN 5512, Order No. 309.
I must buy this book!

Big Ed
Jun-30-2012, 7:52pm
F5loar: You are an interesting fellow, have you written anything related to the mandolin?

Ed Dance

f5loar
Jul-01-2012, 7:19am
No mandolin stuff but I did stay at a Holiday Inn last night.

f5joe
Jul-04-2012, 7:16am
No mandolin stuff but I did stay at a Holiday Inn last night.

You've moved up from Super 8's?

f5loar
Jul-04-2012, 7:19pm
Joe you got that right. I stayed at a Motel 6 and thought I was in the Presidential Suite as there were peanuts and jelly beans all over the floor. I still have nightmares. There was I time as you well remember I had to go cheap on everything and then I got rid of my 2nd wife and now I can afford those fancy mandolins, cars and hotels!

Dale Pauline
Mar-16-2014, 9:45pm
I just shipped my copy back to the States. Could someone tell me what Spann's says for serial number 80722? Should be an A model.

houseworker
Mar-16-2014, 9:59pm
What year? What's the FON?

Dale Pauline
Mar-16-2014, 10:43pm
It's a '26 and I'm trying to get the FON.

houseworker
Mar-16-2014, 10:48pm
Spann's guide doesn't work like that. The FON is not tied to the serial number. The FON shows when it was made, the serial number shows when it shipped. You'll need to read the FON inside the instrument.

f5loar
Mar-16-2014, 11:24pm
Spann's guide shows 80800 as the first serial no. for 1927 so yours is a real late 1926 but without that FON you can't find what model was made. Likely the FON is a 1926.

MikeEdgerton
Mar-17-2014, 11:03am
Look through the sound hole at the head block. Is there a number stamped there?

Dale Pauline
Mar-17-2014, 8:47pm
Okay, the FON is 8471. I don't own this mando, it's for sale.

brunello97
Mar-17-2014, 9:04pm
Well, a FON of 8471 would appear to place it in 1926. However, that FON doesn't show up in Joe's book (page 81.) You might want to give him a shout as I know he is interested in filling in some missing blanks in the compendium.

Mick

Scott Tichenor
Apr-22-2014, 8:11am
Happy birthday.

Spann's Guide celebrating three years in print today.

118333

FL Dawg
Apr-22-2014, 2:27pm
Time for the second edition :)

!!!

Joe Spann
Apr-22-2014, 3:08pm
Time flies...I actually have enough new material for a second volume or an expansion of the first one.

But right now I'm busy compiling a series of Lloyd Loar's essays written in 1920-21 for publication. I think it's time he got to speak for himself...

Joe

Timbofood
Apr-22-2014, 5:23pm
Fine thought Joe!

Loren Tilley
May-07-2014, 3:06am
Joe, thanks for the great book. It is a wonderful resource. Just in case you ever do any revision or second edition or what-not, I thought I would share that I have a Gibson L-12 with FON 431 (which is not listed in you book, but the surrounding FONs are all listed as 1933), and serial no. 89377, which the book seems to indicate would be a 1932 shipping date. It isn't a big deal, but I thought I would share the information in case it was of use to you.

JeffD
May-07-2014, 12:18pm
right now I'm busy compiling a series of Lloyd Loar's essays written in 1920-21 for publication. I think it's time he got to speak for himself...
Joe

Wow. Now that is something I really look forward to. Is there a time line for publication?

Timbofood
May-08-2014, 7:38am
Joe, I really enjoy the fact that your book has been referenced so many times and has answered many questions which used to take months to sort out. Looking forward to any more work you throw yourself into!

Jim Garber
May-08-2014, 8:30am
Time flies...I actually have enough new material for a second volume or an expansion of the first one.

But right now I'm busy compiling a series of Lloyd Loar's essays written in 1920-21 for publication. I think it's time he got to speak for himself...

Joe

Joe: We need some definitive information on Handel tuners... I hope when you get to revisions and expansion of the first one that you will have more info on that and other suppliers. I found those sections interesting.

mike b
Oct-07-2015, 10:40am
I found a Gibson A-Jr with OHSC in my attic. Can't read model #. No logo on headstock. Sticker on inside appears to be original. How can I identify? <removed by Moderator-Limit commerce to the classifieds> Have plenty photos.

allenhopkins
Oct-07-2015, 11:25am
I found a Gibson A-Jr with OHSC in my attic. Can't read model #. No logo on headstock. Sticker on inside appears to be original. How can I identify? Would like to sell it. Have plenty photos.

1. Not quite sure why you added to this thread, rather than starting a new one; this one's basically about the Spann book on Gibson serial/factory order numbers.

However --

2. The "model number" is "A Jr." The mandolin was made by Gibson for a few years as their "entry level" model.

3. If you look inside, up toward the neck, there should be a number on the neck block. That's the factory order number (FON), which was a number assigned for internal use during manufacture. That, along with the Spann book, can be used to assign a manufacturing date range, though not necessarily a shipping or sale date.

4. Yours is a "paddle-head" -- the headstock flares outward toward the top -- which might make it from the range 1919-1923. After that, A-Jr.'s were made with a "snakehead" headstock, tapering toward the top.

5. "Snakehead" A-Jr.'s bring a premium, selling at over $1.5K. "Paddle-heads" are listed at a bit over $1K. Yours looks in good shape, has what looks like an original case. I'd ask $1.2-1.4K for it and see what happens.

houseworker
Oct-07-2015, 12:07pm
Allen's valuation feels pretty optimistic. Auction sales on eBay have been closing at under $600, albeit needing a bit of work.

MikeEdgerton
Oct-07-2015, 1:10pm
There's no way this will ever sell for a grand. The way you determine the value is to go to eBay, check the completed auctions for the auctions that are listed in green. That means it sold. Gibson mandolins on eBay generally have prices that are in Hollywood and they stay that way for months until the seller finally figures out that it's not worth as much as they thought. Some might never figure that out. There's currently a similar vintage pumpkin top A with the tailpiece cover and for $800.00 or best offer with free shipping. That mandolin is head and shoulders above this model and it's been out there a while. A 1914 AJr in great shape sold for 542.00. You might be able to peruse these yourself with this (http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_from=R40&_nkw=Gibson+mandolin&_in_kw=1&_ex_kw=&_sacat=0&LH_Sold=1&_udlo=&_udhi=&_samilow=&_samihi=&_sadis=15&_stpos=08618&_sargn=-1%26saslc%3D1&_salic=1&_sop=12&_dmd=1&_ipg=50&LH_Complete=1) link. There are several models that are higher Gibson models that sold in the $800.00 range in this list right now.

Jeff Mando
Oct-07-2015, 1:17pm
As I like to say, it is a "buyer's market" for 100-year old Gibsons!

allenhopkins
Oct-07-2015, 4:18pm
Appreciate the commentary. Mandolin Brothers had a 1924 "snakehead" here (http://mandoweb.com/Instruments/Gibson-A-Jr-Mandolin-1924/2083) for $1,750; Folkway Music had a "paddle-head" here (http://www.folkwaymusic.com/museum/gibson-guitars/id.1270/) for $1,295 Canadian. Artisan Guitars listed this one (https://artisanguitars.com/1922-gibson-jr-mandolin-id-6451) as "sold" at $1,800.

Now, did they really get their asking prices for these? Dunno. There are trade-ins, and negotiations, and who knows? Private and eBay sales go for less, generally, but there's quite a distance between these dealer prices and the estimates above.

Just 'cause you ask $1K, doesn't mean you can't come down if the market won't support the asking price.

MikeEdgerton
Oct-07-2015, 5:12pm
If they got those prices it simply proves Barnum's theorem. The snake maybe, the paddle, somebody could have done much better. You really can't compare the prices at a big retailer to the real world though. In the unknown condition this one is in he should do a happy dance if he gets close to $500.00.

houseworker
Oct-08-2015, 2:52am
I think that Allen is somewhat naive in thinking that list prices from well-known dealers equate to selling prices. Normally they don't. But dealers have a strong commercial interest in forcing prices up and their inflated list prices are part of that. Dealers aren't keen for you to know what they really let instruments go for since that would be deflationary.

Major auction houses have the same self-interest in preserving the illusion of high prices. They'll 'buy in' prominent lots that fail to attract suitable bids if they think it's to their long term benefit.

In the fine violin trade, discounts of between 20% and 40% on list are the norm. My experience of looking for a nice F-4 some years ago suggests that mandolin dealers are not too far out of line with the violin world.

eBay completed auction listings have a big advantage over dealer and auction house listings in that you know that the item has actually sold to a real world buyer for the price quoted. Because of eBay's reach, they can be taken as a fair guide to the true market value of an item.

allenhopkins
Oct-08-2015, 2:32pm
I think that Allen is somewhat naive in thinking that list prices from well-known dealers equate to selling prices. Normally they don't...eBay completed auction listings have a big advantage over dealer and auction house listings in that you know that the item has actually sold to a real world buyer for the price quoted. Because of eBay's reach, they can be taken as a fair guide to the true market value of an item.

Hmm...think I addressed this a bit in Post #134 above. Did Mandolin Brothers sell that "snakehead" A-Jr. for $1,750, as it was listed? No way to tell. Fact remains that a very reputable (although somewhat top-of-the-price-scale) dealer was asking that amount. And that they sold it, for what I would have to infer was a price at least based on the listed price. After prolonged negotiation? With a generous trade-in for another mandolin, or whatever? After coming down $1K? I don't know.

And, in fact, none of us knows. The number of A-Jr. mandolins listed for sale, on eBay or wherever, at any given time, is going to be quite small. Yes, dealers try to get top price for what they sell, and often negotiate downward from their "list price." I've been the beneficiary of that many times. On the other hand, dealers want to sell, not hold on to inventory; they also may be more informed than private sellers on auction sites, who may let items go at well-below-market prices (not so true any more, when anyone can review listings and eBay sales via Google).

Were I in mike b's position, I'd have no hesitation in asking $1K for the A-Jr., and being prepared to bargain. What it sells for in the end, depends on a whole host of factors that none of us can accurately anticipate, and that most of us will never learn when the transaction's complete.

Mandolin Cafe
Apr-22-2018, 9:34am
Noting the anniversary of this important publication on this date 2011. Although there are various publication dates bouncing around, amazon is notoriously wrong a good part of the time or their dates are a moving target is our observation.

f5loar
May-26-2018, 10:46pm
It is good to keep Spann's book as the best guide to dating prewar Gibsons. Many dealers still use the older Gruhn/XXX guides and have no clue the Spann book is out there.

walter carter
May-27-2018, 4:05pm
Xxx?

William Smith
May-27-2018, 6:50pm
Its wonderful treasure trove of information, I'm waiting on a more comprehensive list of all the known #'s of the 30's rarities like F-5's, 7's,10's and 12's etc.... known serial #'s would be the S###! As a 30's nut "for some reason" I'd love to see that list! Also the missing link #'s of the 20's stuff! We all know there still out there being discovered. Now that would be a book I'd buy without any hesitation!

William Smith
May-27-2018, 6:55pm
Tom do you mean the early lists by Benny Martin, Darryl Wolf etc...those lists? Curious Gibson fanatic here!

Jeff Mando
May-27-2018, 7:21pm
I'm in a minority here, I guess. I don't understand the fascination with knowing the exact day, year, etc. for most instruments. If you have some experience with vintage Gibsons, most of the time the instrument's features will tell you when it was built within a few years, usually with a quick glance. It's not like anyone is going to confuse a 40's instrument with a teens instrument, are they?

Mandolin Cafe
May-27-2018, 10:12pm
I'm in a minority here, I guess. I don't understand the fascination with knowing the exact day, year, etc. for most instruments. If you have some experience with vintage Gibsons, most of the time the instrument's features will tell you when it was built within a few years, usually with a quick glance. It's not like anyone is going to confuse a 40's instrument with a teens instrument, are they?

Mandolin Cafe is a relatively small community--in terms of the global internet--of people of all types and interests, ethnic backgrounds (careful, don't tell anyone), musical styles, parts of the industry, ages, backgrounds, interests, etc. If you can't get that then it shouldn't be a bother to anyone in our mind. There is a good number of people interested in the very unique history of Gibson that is still unfolding but with lots of questions and answers. Gibson is a pretty big deal, and Spann's book is as well.

But we also have small groups of folks interested in Italian folk and classical music played on bowlbacks, jazzheads delving deeply into theory discussions, folks with an interest in the finite details of finish materials, seekers of bargains on Craig's List and eBay, and folks worried about why someone might be called a "picker," and at least a few overly obsessed in our mind with every micro detail of Northfield's new mandolin case, though highly unlikely they'll ever own one. Power to them, but doesn't mean we need to question them. But that wouldn't even cover 5% of the history of this forum.

We prefer to think this is all a good thing. Lots more for you to worry about not understanding it appears, unless you accept you're among people that are enjoying the discussion they're having. That's kind of the purpose of this space.

mrmando
May-27-2018, 11:35pm
It's not like anyone is going to confuse a 40's instrument with a teens instrument, are they?

Happens all the time!

David Lewis
May-28-2018, 3:33am
I find Spannís book fascinating. What he couldnít find - the alloy used in banjo rings. What he seems to confirm - masterbilt mandolins have tap tuning. I read it not as an appraiser or anyone whoís ever even seen a classic Gibson In the flesh but as someone fascinated with the history of the company and as. A professional historian admiring the detail.

f5loar
Jun-01-2018, 1:13am
Cars and guitars *(mandolins too) have different values based on year made. Compare the price of a 1959 Cadillac Fleetwood to a 1958 Cadillac Fleetwood. Some want to know the year made as they seek out a birth year model. Compare the price of a Dec. 1924 F5 to that of a Dec. 1925 F5. Big difference!

mandopaul
Jun-01-2018, 6:01pm
Would anyone with the new book look up an old Gibson A pumpkin Serial # is 34767 and the FON stamp is 3455. Does it say when it was made and the ship date?

AndyV
Jun-02-2018, 12:46am
Ads for used instruments so often state "sells new for (MSRP) dollars!" Who pays MSRP?

AndyV
Jun-02-2018, 12:47am
I need to check my attic!

AndyV
Jun-02-2018, 12:58am
I don't know why I want to know the year (of an old instrument - don't care about newer) but I can't help being curious. Do I care if it's a '37 or a '40? No. I just need to enjoy the instrument for what it is. Obviously it won't play or sound different if I know it's age or not.

Maybe there's some romantic idea that drives the curiosity about manufacture dates; a bit of "if this guitar (or what have you) could talk".

MikeEdgerton
Jun-02-2018, 5:22pm
If you're really not worried about it and you happen upon a Gibson F5 from the early 20's I'll trade you a new one for it. Thanks.

AndyV
Jun-02-2018, 6:11pm
I'll be sure to let you know.

Timbofood
Jun-08-2018, 10:52am
If you're really not worried about it and you happen upon a Gibson F5 from the early 20's I'll trade you a new one for it. Thanks.

Mike, I think we share the “mensch” canoe!

Personally, I find the interest in the interest fascinating, the stories that must sleep in the walls of 225 Parsons Street would be such an insight into the goings on in there way back when.
The Spann book is another useful tool in being a “Gibson aficionado”.

f5loar
Jun-16-2018, 12:49am
Many seek out their "birth year" instrument. It's just a thing, but you need to know for sure if it indeed was made during the same year you were made.

Timbofood
Jun-16-2018, 7:31am
But, Tom, I was born in ‘57, not what one generally thinks of as a high point in the Parsons Street era! Moms birth year might be better! 1923!

MikeEdgerton
Jun-16-2018, 7:33am
Mike, I think we share the “mensch” canoe!

Personally, I find the interest in the interest fascinating, the stories that must sleep in the walls of 225 Parsons Street would be such an insight into the goings on in there way back when.
The Spann book is another useful tool in being a “Gibson aficionado”.

I'm just trying to be helpful Tim.

Timbofood
Jun-16-2018, 8:33am
And you always are, pal!

DerTiefster
Jun-16-2018, 10:58am
Another thing you might consider: If you don't know the date your mandolin was made, how would you know when to hold its birthday party?

I have a 1964 Volvo 1800S, and know where its next-serial-number older "sibling" is, both of which came off the assembly line as black with red upholstery. I dream at times of getting both together and restoring them. I'll never actually DO it, but it is a recurrent thought. I understand why someone might enjoy knowing the history of unusual cars. It wouldn't occur to me to do this with an Oldsmobile Vista-Cruiser.

I think early Gibson mandolins (and other instruments) qualify as unusual/special.

willkamm
Jun-16-2018, 1:39pm
But, Tom, I was born in ‘57, not what one generally thinks of as a high point in the Parsons Street era! Moms birth year might be better! 1923!

Dad's was 1922. Wasn't L0ar there 1922-1923?

Timbofood
Jun-20-2018, 7:32am
Dad's was 1922. Wasn't L0ar there 1922-1923?

Exactly!

pops1
Jun-20-2018, 7:51am
Dad's was 1922. Wasn't L0ar there 1922-1923?

Mine is also a '22, what a great mandolin.

AndyV
Jun-20-2018, 1:37pm
I have a 1964 Volvo 1800S, and know where its next-serial-number older "sibling" is, both of which came off the assembly line as black with red upholstery. I dream at times of getting both together and restoring them. I'll never actually DO it, but it is a recurrent thought. I understand why someone might enjoy knowing the history of unusual cars. It wouldn't occur to me to do this with an Oldsmobile Vista-Cruiser.

I think early Gibson mandolins (and other instruments) qualify as unusual/special.

That was my dream car growing up.

Rather that two identical, I'd rather see a 122 or 544 parked next to the 1800.

Jim Garber
Jun-20-2018, 2:40pm
That was my dream car growing up.

Rather that two identical, I'd rather see a 122 or 544 parked next to the 1800.

Me, too. Loved the 122 but ended with a ‘70 144 that turned out to be a lemon. Oh well.

John Uhrig
Jun-20-2018, 3:34pm
And I had the Vista Cruiser ! Gold with wood-grain accents

Timbofood
Jun-24-2018, 9:14am
I had the Pontiac “Executive 400” which had the capacity for a pair of Peavy Columns, amp, three guitars, banjo, mandolin, box of mics and cords, four (not small) guys and a string bass all inside and dry!

V70416
Aug-18-2018, 12:14pm
Love those old Land-Yachts. Had a 1978 Mercury Marquis Colony Park. Loong wheelbase;great ride!

My Spann's Guide should be here in a couple days. I ordered it after a fellow forumite here found that
my 1923 snakehead is really a 1925. Have a couple other teens Gibsons to date.