View Full Version : 1906 Gibson F4 Artist #4259

Dave S
Dec-07-2004, 10:53am
Nice site, I have been reading for a few weeks and I wanted to post pics of my Mandolin.
This topic could also be posted in " looking for information " section.
Being a newbie, I had trouble attaching files to post.I have sent these #to "eadg"@mandolincafe" hopefully he can hook up post and pictures. Sorry for the trouble.
I got this mandolin about 12 years ago from a lady who said her aunt in Listowell ,Ontario, Canada gave it to her and that she had played it in church for a number of years before giving it to her.
I had a Daniel Rey from New York send me a photograph from about 1907 which showed a mandolin quartet and a mandolin identical to mine.
I nearly fell over when I saw the picture. He had seen a picture of mine in Vintage Guitar and recognized the mandolin.
Upon further research an article was sent to me by a David Ruppert from Maryland which was a biography on a J.W.Mclouth
who was a conductor,composer,violin,clarinet and mandolin
player.The photo in the biography looked very similar to #the man in the quartet photo.
I sent the photos to Roger Siminoff who confirmed that they are "the same person".
He had and old Gibson cataloge which contained quotes and photographs of and by Mr. Mclouth.
My latest research has included checking Grand Rapids,Michigan history for information on him.
It seems odd that a person so talented(according to the biography) can slip from our memory and history .
I am very sure that this mandolin is one that Mr.Mclouth had the Gibson company custom make. In all of my research I have never seen one identical to mine.
Perhaps someone knows of Mclouth that can help me confirm #that his instrument got to Ontario ,Canada then to where I live in Saskatchewan, Canada.
Any information would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks, Dave S

Scott Tichenor
Dec-07-2004, 11:07am
Here are the pictures he sent me.

Scott Tichenor
Dec-07-2004, 11:07am
The quartet, familiar to Plucked String customers no doubt.

Scott Tichenor
Dec-07-2004, 11:14am
Page 1

Scott Tichenor
Dec-07-2004, 11:14am
Page 2

Dec-07-2004, 11:21am
It is definitely unusually fancy, one of only a handfull I've seen that are that richly done. The pickguard inlay is unique in my experience. The fingerboard inlay with the sprouting pot does look similar to one in the Gruhn book, though I'd need to see a higher resolution photo. The peghead has "torch & wire" inlay, one of my personal favorite old Gibson features. I can't quite tell for sure on the color image, but it looks like it is "rope bound" (binding that looks sort of like a rope). That's a mark of the first year at Gibson and some of Orville's hand-made instruments.. My guess is that this is indeed a custom job, much fancier than normal, perhaps a "presentation" instrument.

Here're some examples of similar things from the archives:

A Gibson F3 with rope binding:


Torch & Wire Inlay (http://www.mandolinarchive.com/perl/list_mandolins.pl?torch_wire):


is there a label inside with Orville Gibson's face on it?
is there a serial number ? (I'd guess around 4xxx)
is there an ink stamp # inside above the label?
any chance of some higher-resolution or close up pictures?

Scott Tichenor
Dec-07-2004, 11:23am
One last one.

Kirk Albrecht
Dec-07-2004, 11:31am
That is so cool! http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif

Darryl Wolfe
Dec-07-2004, 11:42am
It's quite interesting to see such an early mando that has actually been played to the point of having long term honest wear..and by the same person. Cool

Dave S
Dec-07-2004, 11:58am
Yes, #the label has the image of Orville and as noted serial 4259 , no ink stamp or any apparent (visible) lot or batch number and Yes it has the " rope"around the soundhole.


Scott Tichenor
Dec-07-2004, 12:50pm
Here's a PDF attachement of the same written information as what appears above but is quite easier to read.

Dec-07-2004, 12:56pm
The fingerboard inlay is very similar to the one on my Bean Blossom! http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/laugh.gif

Jim Garber
Dec-07-2004, 2:45pm
What is th date/year of that Crescendo Issue? A good friend of mine comes from Adrian MI and I want to inform her that it was a hotbed of mandolin activity back then.


Dave S
Dec-07-2004, 4:26pm
I #think it is Nov of 1913 and if you read the larger version of the magazine Mclouth did perform around that area
as well as Kalamazoo, Reeds'Lake and Grand Rapids.

I would love to see Mr. Marty Stuart all dud'ed up in a black
suit and rhinestones playing this F4 on T.V.

Dec-07-2004, 8:14pm
WOW...got my attention!


Dec-07-2004, 9:37pm

Scott Tichenor
Dec-07-2004, 10:20pm
What is th date/year of that Crescendo Issue? A good friend of mine comes from Adrian MI and I want to inform her that it was a hotbed of mandolin activity back then.

Jim, Dave will need to answer that one. For me, that leather case is just way cool.

Dave S
Dec-07-2004, 10:27pm
(or anyone)
What do you know about the cases?
I have heard them called "Chicago Bull Cases" mine has the threads #falling out.... I would like to find some one who could repair it using the existing thread holes and I also need a piece of belt which went around the bottom.

Dec-08-2004, 12:05am
How funny to read about my home town of Grand Rapids in that manner. Makes it seem...cultured http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif

Professor PT
Dec-08-2004, 12:31am
That is one cool looking mando. #I'd say that's worth a pretty penny, to use a cliche. #I'm originally from Marshall, MI, and my parents are from Grand Rapids. #The grandfather of a friend of mine who played drums in my band in high school used to work for Gibson. #I remember coming across an F-4 in his basement one day. #We were all baffled by the looks of the thing. #I love the ad for the "slip-not" mandolin pick. #Gotta get one of those!

Chris Burt
Dec-08-2004, 12:54am
With apologies to Crocodile Dundee, "Now that's a Mandolin!"

Dec-08-2004, 5:10am
The tooled leather case is an original feature. I've got pictures of some black ones at the archives (I'll have to dig), they also appear in the first Gibson catalog..

Dec-08-2004, 5:36am
Oh, pleeeeze take some "presentation" pictures and get them to Dan for posting in the archives. Orville at his finest!


Jim Garber
Dec-08-2004, 9:25am
What do you know about the cases?
I have heard them called "Chicago Bull Cases" mine has the threads #falling out.... I would like to find some one who could repair it using the existing thread holes and I also need a piece of belt which went around the bottom.
Take it to a quality luggage repair place or even a trusted shoemaker. Any quality leather-worker should be able to repair it for a price. Also, ask them about reconditioning the leather as well. Usually they dry out.


Jim Garber
Dec-08-2004, 9:29am
Is that scraping of the top around the pickguard? Do you have some larger closeups of the mandolin body?


Dave S
Dec-08-2004, 12:41pm
Below the pickguard has #the black finsh has been "finger polished" away.
I had a mandolin teacher from Calgary Alberta look at it,
I had thought it was pick wear, He said "no it's not pick wear, whoever was playing this knew what he was doing,the wear was created by his fingers guiding where he was picking,(closer to the ovalhole=more mellow sound,closer to the bridge= brighter sound) and he played it a lot". The area in question is very smooth(burnished).
I don't have any more real good pictures right now but I will get some done. Should I go with good prints from a local photographer or ask for digital?

You're not suggesting Orville had a part in the construction of this mandolin are you? I had thought he was only a consultant at this time in the company.
I had wondered why Orville made that ornate mandolin that Gruhns' have now in the same year that mine was made,however very much "old school design". Do you think the company and Orville were viing for direction and design
and each were showing their best?

Professor PT and jasona:
In my research of J.W. Mclouth I have found out that he owned the lyre instrument that is depicted in the early labels(The Gibson Story,Jullius Bellson).Lived at 347 Bond
in Grand Rapids,born Feb 5 1870 died June 12 1950,was married to Erma who died in July of 1928, She had a cousin,F.W.Ingalsbe of Grand Rapids. J.W. was buried #by C.D. Sullivan Funeral home in Wyoming Park cemetary in the city and Dr. Joseph Letini signed his death certificate.
As you two are familiar to the city do any of those names ring a bell? Do you know of any old timers who might know of him?
Thanks Dave

Dec-08-2004, 3:40pm
I remember an F-4/3-point that looks exactly like this one(rope binding and all). I saw it for years in a music store in Albuquerque. I kept bugging the people there about purchasing it;but they just started rolling their eyes after many attempts at even discussing it. They wouldn't even get it down for me to look more closely...............

Darryl Wolfe
Dec-08-2004, 3:56pm
Here's an F3 that Benny Cain had at one time...like Dans photo, it has the fancy inlay (like the 70's F5's), rope/checkered binding..

Darryl Wolfe
Dec-08-2004, 3:57pm
you can see a little more here..there is no finish on the mando

Dec-08-2004, 3:58pm
Nah, Orville bailed out of the company in July '03 from what I understand, and then started collecting a "pension". However, the genius of his mandolins show in your beautiful instrument!
I'd go with digital pix...then you can just email them to Dan.


Dec-08-2004, 4:02pm
Hey Darryl... ; isn't that a D-35..!?? - or a genuine(?) 45..!?? (or a reasonable facimile thereof!?) - I love the "modified" pick guard!! ; what "star" had it? - hee.. hee... - Seriously..., some very nice pieces -thanks for sharing!!! - Have a' good'n - Moose. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/mandosmiley.gif http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/tounge.gif

Dec-08-2004, 4:03pm
No none of the names ring a bell (other than Sullivan, which is a fairly prominent name in GR--for a furnature company and sponsor for a minor league baseball team). However the Wyoming Park Cemetary does ring a bell, and the next time I am in GR I will try and swing by and snap a photo and play the old guy a tune. Might be a year or two into the future however, as I don't head back often.

Darryl Wolfe
Dec-08-2004, 4:21pm
Yes that is an orig D-45, along w/ 2 Loars and an F2. The pickguard is a sheet of thin plastic stuck on in a few spots, so as not to mess up the finish

Dec-08-2004, 4:29pm
Thanks! http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/mandosmiley.gif http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif

Professor PT
Dec-08-2004, 4:40pm
Dave S: I can ask my parents to ask around. My grandmother is 83, but she's in very poor health--mentally and physically. I doubt she'd know much. I do have some relatives buried in that cemetary; I haven't been out there since I was a kid.

Dave S
Dec-08-2004, 5:01pm
I appreciate any /all help I can get on this one.
I have almost run out of ideas and information and are too far away to go looking around G.R.
(although I would love to.)
I would love to find some family of this guy and let them know it is in good hands.

Dec-08-2004, 5:35pm
wow--makes one drool over the keyboard!

Jim Garber
Dec-08-2004, 6:08pm
I appreciate any /all help I can get on this one.
I have almost run out of ideas and information and are too far away to go looking around G.R.
(although I would love to.)
I would love to find some family of this guy and let them know it is in good hands.
I saw your posting on Ancestry.com

You never know. You may be contacted by someone someday.

I have an eccentric violin I play by a man named Ashley from Brooklyn, NY. I did a search and found someone had posted asking about his father. I emailed the woman and she referred me to the maker's grandson who told me all about his grandfather. You can read about it here (http://www.paperclipdesign.com/ashley/).

BTW you can also check out city directories which list businesses... actually it sounds like you did that already.


Dave S
Dec-08-2004, 6:45pm
Yes, Jim..
I looked up current music stores..phoned them...No one I have had contact with in G.R. had ever heard of him..
Also looked up Mclouths in G.R. One guy I talked to was going to ask at his family reunion... I see now he has passed away.
On a whim... I saw a T.V. show on CLT(Canadian Learning Channel) called "Antique Psychic"..
I went to Calgary Alberta with the #mandolin and was taped for a later (Feb or Mar) broadcast.I'm not sure if it is aired in the U.S.
It was kind of interesting... She (Kim Dennis) told me his name was John or Walter and that she saw huge hotels where it was played and also conveyed that "he" said:
...one of the hotels is still there.
..that the instrument was dry (12yrs ago)(was in an attic for 20yrs)
.. he was very happy with the restoration and it was one
# #of his favorites.
#She #said that the person in the quartet and #the biography were the same person only days before Roger Siminoff confirmed it.
I now have mixed feelings about this venture after learning more about "mediums".I certainly don't advocate them.
but I thought ..."what the heck"..Give it a try.

Professor PT
Dec-08-2004, 8:25pm
The weird thing is that I just spoke to a psychic, and she said that you must give that mandolin to me! She's quite reputable, too; she has her own phone hotline!

Dave S
Dec-09-2004, 1:21am
Good article on the "Gala" ,Jim.

Dec-09-2004, 1:46am
Dave, great find. Beautiful and has a significant historic pedigree. Can't ask for much more than that!
Obviously you have gone to great lengths to research the history of this mandolin. What I am wondering is if you have had any luck tracing it back from the Ontario end?
Have you tried to contact the aunt in Ontario to see how she came to have it?
And sorry Dave but I just have to get this dig in,,, but SASKATCHEWAN??? how the heck does something like that end up there? # an antique curling broom or an old duck decoy maybe, #yeah, yeah ok,,, but not THAT mandolin!

Dave S
Dec-09-2004, 11:32am
I understand the aunt is long gone but her name was May Hamilton (Campbell before marriage).
Yes I find it odd that this type of instrument ended up here
There wasn't #even a rail road in this town when the mandolin was made. The mandolin was in Ontario untill about 1950 when it was given to the lady I bought it from.

Dave S
Dec-10-2004, 1:48am
I have booked a spot next week at my local photographer..
We are going to do some digital shots with a macro lens.
I will make a CD of the shots & send for the archive and there is some interesting artwork being planned.

Dec-10-2004, 3:15am
Excellent Dave, thanks for taking the effort to have it photographed. It's (in my opinion) one of the nicest examples of a 3-point F mandolin ever documented, and a superb example of the 1900s mandolin innovation that brought us all to where we are today http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif

Ken Waltham
Dec-10-2004, 9:54am
Dave, I have snooped around here, and can see no way to know why your mandolin was here in Ontario. Very glad you brought it up here on the Cafe, it gets the most people involved the quickest possible way.
Listowell is not real far from here, a couple of hours.
There was, in those days, a very fluid border between Ontario and MI, NY states.

Bob DeVellis
Dec-10-2004, 11:37am
IT may be fairly tough to get the case repaired. I have a similar one that I borught to a couple of places and they said that only some areas would fit their stitching machines. Some of the curves, etc. wouldn't pass through it. They recommended repairing with matching leather and a contact adhesive. It actually worked pretty well, but it's obviously not original. What I found worked best was using suede rubbed down with conventional tan shoe polish. Strips were made to fit over the original seams by notching the leather (sort of like a kerfed lining in reverse) so that when bent around the curves, it wouldn't be all puckered. It looks almost like weathered leather and is surprisingly "natural" to my eye. I fear that a full, cosmetically perfect repair would really cost a bundle and might essentially amount to havinga new case built.

Dave S
Dec-12-2004, 9:40pm
I noticed the tuners on mine are similar to the pictures you send in Aug 25 2004.

They have "crocus" flowers on one end and small stars on the other. I have also seen small circles on each end .
Have you seen other variations to this theme?

Jim Garber
Dec-12-2004, 10:03pm
IT may be fairly tough to get the case repaired. #I have a similar one that I borught to a couple of places and they said that only some areas would fit their stitching machines. #Some of the curves, etc. wouldn't pass through it.
Maybe I am naive, but i would think that in the least you could find someone to repair it by hand. Sounds strange, but I would think a qualified leather worker should be able to deal with curves. What do they do with handbags?

I had luck a few years ago with luggage repair places. I would go that route before using glue. Then again, it may be a lost cause.


Dec-13-2004, 9:56am
Yes, I do a lot of leather working, and it's no problem to do the stitching by hand. Any good cobbler or (better yet) saddlemaker should be able to do it for you.

Dave S
Dec-13-2004, 4:46pm
I guess I will figure out what type of thread and leather to get and get at it sometime.The mandolin is not
out doing gigs every weekend so there's no rush .
Looks like my photo shoot is delayed till Friday or Monday due to Christmas orders etc.
I got #counting the pieces of pearl and abalone
on this thing:
106 alternating abalone and pearl on the binding
18 in the pickguard
42 in the headstock torch
80 in the tuners( 5per side x2x8)
37 in the "tree of life" neck
12 around the oval hole
5 dots for fret markers@ 5,7,10 @ 12
not including the wire inlays
this would be 300 pieces.
The neck markers are pretty cool,
I noticed the 5th fret (green abalone) shines like a bright green l.e.d.
right at your eyes when you are in playing position.

Dec-22-2004, 1:46pm
Here's a look at mine #4463

Dec-22-2004, 3:35pm
ffpizza5: I'd love to get your list of instruments and serial numbers for the mandolin archive (all of the ones shown!), beautiful collection you have there!

Dave S
Dec-22-2004, 7:43pm
http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/tounge.gif Wow!
Looks like "oval heaven"!
Is yours a '07?
Did you keep everything stock? (bridge,nut etc)
What strings do you like?
Looks like you need a Mando Bass to complete your collection
Let me know if you would like one.

Dec-28-2004, 10:29am
Hi Guys

Oval heaven indeed. #I'm at the office now so I don't have the serial numbers of the instruments; however, here's a list of the instruments in the photo

F-2 3 Point Mandolin
A-4 Orville lable 1905-6
H-4 Mandola 1913
H-2 Mandola 1912
K-2 Mandocello 1911
Style O Guitar mid teens
Style U Harp Guitar 1915

All black face collection, but the 3 pint is by far my favorite. #Not bad for a $25.00 grage sale item. #I'm not bragging. #When I first saw the mandolin, it was in a basket at a garage sale in Toledo Ohio. #No strings or bridge and one of the head stock scrolls was broke off. #The handle tuners were there along with the crown tail piece cover. #It looked pretty beat. #I cleaned it up and made a one-piece bridge for it. #It had a great sound, but played like a war club.

Walnut back and sides. Original finish (except for the head stock as it was repaired). #The neck was reset and shimmed for playability. # Excellent work done by Harry Eibert. #




Darryl Wolfe
Dec-28-2004, 11:01am
Hey Conrad....I noticed you have another F-2 on the way that's not listed.. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif

Dec-28-2004, 12:07pm
Hi Darryl

With the on-the-way F-2 I will have 8 oval hole F Gibsons. five F-2's three F-4's

I have a very understanding wife.

Dec-28-2004, 3:10pm
Nice one Conrad. Am I missing any of your serial #s or images? If so, please P/M me for the mandolin archive!

Darryl Wolfe
Dec-28-2004, 3:42pm
very cool..nice collection

Dave S
Jan-04-2005, 9:14pm
I did 30 + pictures with a digital camera on Dec 23 with some high quality/ macro which are on their way to Scott and Dan for the cafe and archive.
These pictures were also sent to Michael Voelkl who is creating a portrait/print that will be available in the next few months.

Jan-11-2005, 11:44am
Ok, pictures recieved. This is a hum-dinger (which we already knew!). I'm seeing some Orville features in this one even, need to think about it a bit more and show some more experts.

Here're a couple of quick previews, I'll work on the archive record for it over the upcoming days..

First off, the lovely face in detail, including a pickguard design I've never seen before. Also note the rope-like MOP binding and the dot on the scroll.. both of those are features of the fancy hand-built mandos that Orville Gibson made..

Jan-11-2005, 11:54am
The peghead has unusual scrolls. The small one is quite slender, and the large one is oval-shaped. Darryl has pointed out to me that the peghead "leans" left, similar to known Orville-made ones..

Jan-11-2005, 11:55am
This is George Gruhn's article at the mandolin archive about the last known Orville-made mandolin (http://www.mandolinarchive.com/articles/orville_f.shtml)

Darryl Wolfe
Jan-11-2005, 3:00pm
Dan and I are also looking at the possibility that this mandolin has Brazilian Rosewood sides and back. The pictures sure seem to indicate such. We've sent them to a few others folks to verify

Jan-11-2005, 3:25pm
that is a beauty...I love the headstock shape and inlays! That does look like rosewood to my eyes...but let the experts make the final decision.

Professor PT
Jan-11-2005, 6:36pm
That peghead scroll is just so cool; I wish they made them all like that!

Ken Waltham
Jan-11-2005, 7:10pm
I, for one, have never seen that peghead shape before. It's very cool, and very artistic.
That does look like Brazillian to me too, but, could it be walnut? I know some high end, early ones were walnut.

Dave S
Jan-11-2005, 7:39pm
What is unique about the shape?
Am I right in assuming the lower part of the peghead is slimmer than some?
Is there a trend in the evolution of the peghead?
Re: wood
George Gruhn has suggested it appeared to be rosewood
I think I agree, But I am no expert.
Looking at the grain of the wood, it has black accents(likely rosewood)
Also since rosewood has a high velocity of sound and a broad range of overtones and more pronounced low overtones(compared to walnut with lower velocity of sound and high internal dampening)
Would the better choice for construction be rosewood?


Jan-11-2005, 8:19pm
This is the "normal shape" of the peghead.. note the lean to the left, oval large scroll, more slender small scroll on Dave's..


Jan-11-2005, 8:22pm
This is the wood on mine, which isn't rosewood.. (the smell is all wrong!)


Jan-11-2005, 8:26pm
I'd guess a red stain over walnut, myself.

Ken Waltham
Jan-11-2005, 9:49pm
Red stain over walnut makes sense to me.... I know walnut was used on these types of early Gibsons.
The peghead shape is just as discussed, Dave. The little curlicue is slender, and the scroll is elongated, somewhat eliptical.
I wish I was good at posting pics here, I have several F4 pegheads to show you, but, they are a fair bit newer than yours. Teens to twenties.
They are quite modern in their look, but still change a little over the years. They become slimmer as you get toward the Loar period.


Jan-12-2005, 5:58am
Mmm that looks more like Mahogany to me Dan - similar to my 1916 F2.

This 1902 Mandola is Walnut - note the grain pattern in the bottom of the picture - it also has that reddish hue.
Not the best of photos as I've had to reduce the resolution and haven't used a Polariser to reduce the reflections but you can see the characteristic grain of Walnut.

Dave S
Jan-12-2005, 7:29am
I looked again at mine last night.
it looks very similar to yours.
Maybe Dan or Scott could post a different shot of the back for another look

Jan-12-2005, 7:54am
I'll get the rest up this weekend, been a bit crazy at work here to have much time in the evening this week!

Darryl Wolfe
Jan-12-2005, 8:47am
There are only two photos that show any of the back and sides..this is a portion of the other one

Jan-12-2005, 8:50am
Here's one of the back..

Jan-12-2005, 8:52am
Preliminary thoughs.. body shape, sides/back/scroll carving are consistent with a "normal" model circal 1904-1908, but peghead and neck inlay are "Special".. I'd guess that at a minimum that level of ornamentation took this mandolin off the standard jigs and into the hands of a specialist. There are a few other examples with that neck inlay, but they are all "presentation grade" or super-duper.

I'd guess this was a top-of-the-line celebrity endorsement piece, where the decoration artisan gave some "nods" to Orville Gibson's style of the fanciest instruments

Jan-13-2005, 7:38am
OK folks, I've posted a selection from the fabulous hi-res photos Dave sent us at the mandolin archive here (f4 #4259) (http://www.mandolinarchive.com/perl/show_mando.pl?3108). I'm going to work on adding the catalog photos and more commentary on what we have here to the record over the coming days as I wait for answers back from some friends in the community..

Jan-13-2005, 8:07am
Wow! # Beautiful photos of a beautiful instrument!

Darryl Wolfe
Jan-13-2005, 2:19pm

Darryl Wolfe
Jan-13-2005, 3:28pm

Dave S
Jan-13-2005, 4:53pm
Wow Darryl,
That looks super!

Darryl Wolfe
Jan-14-2005, 9:14am
Thanks..email me and I'll send you the big file..you can print it out on photopaper if you wish

Jan-19-2005, 12:03pm
Hi Darryl

If it's not too much trouble, could you also send me the big file to print.

markb@romestripsteel.com or ffpizza5@hotmail.com



Feb-07-2005, 1:26pm
Hi Mike

Great looking graphics. I'm considering making the trip over on Friday night this week. Need another fix of the Old-Time stuff. Hope to see ya' there



Feb-07-2005, 1:47pm
Thanks Conrad I plan on picking on Friday see you then.