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Thread: Alleged 'Early 1900' F4

  1. #1
    Orrig Onion HonketyHank's Avatar
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    Default Alleged 'Early 1900' F4

    OK, I give up. What IS this? Of course, it isn't an "early 1900" anything. But is it really a Gibson? an F4? And what could have happened to cause the damage?

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/VINTAGE-GIB...19.m1438.l2649
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  2. #2

    Default Re: Alleged 'Early 1900' F4

    I'm going to go with "not a Gibson". It may be older than the 70's but I doubt it.
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  3. #3
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Alleged 'Early 1900' F4

    It looks like a later, possibly 1930's-40's model, with a factory order number stamped into the headstock. The label, with the world "Should" at the end of the line under the guarantee, looks like the "oval white label" that the old Vintage Guitars Gibson ID page says was used from 1908 to 1932. There should be a serial number on the label; the Vintage Guitars page also says "1938-1941: Factory Order Numbers beginning with the letter D to H pressed into the back of the peghead." I don't see the letter prefix, and the label supposedly was discontinued six years before, but heck, we all know how haphazard Gibson could be about following its own supposed labeling rules.

    So I'd guess late 1930's. Just a guess.
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  4. #4
    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Alleged 'Early 1900' F4

    Single-flowerpot F4s were introduced in 1922, yes?

    Number stamped in back of headstock indicates factory repair, which is when it got the non-extended fretboard and whatever refinishing it's had. (I would have a hard time believing that sunburst to be original, but a lot depends on photography.) Lots of details look right: scroll, headstock shape, flowerpot, tailpiece, rosette, endpin, etc. There's residue on the rosette from an outgassed celluloid pickguard; somebody in the '70s making a copy would be unlikely to fake a detail like that.

    It was common practice in the '60s for Gibson to stamp serial numbers on the headstocks of factory-repaired mandolins, so the 5417 is likely a truncated serial number with the first digit missing (perhaps it was partly illegible even back then). A FON of 5417 would put the mandolin in the early 1940s, but the script, rosette and flowerpot are wrong for that time period. Hence that's more likely not a FON but a (partial) serial number; obviously the mandolin isn't old enough for that to be the entire serial number; and if the last digit were missing, 5417x would give us a ship date of 1919, which is too early for a single flowerpot and truss rod.

    75417 is the most likely serial number; that would be early 1924, which would fit all the details we can see. 65417 would be late 1921 according to Spann, possibly too early for a truss rod (and the first truss-rodded F4s still had double flowerpots). 85417 would be 1930, by which time the logo script had changed. I would dearly love to know the FON from the inside.

    Back separations and top cracks are not uncommon at all.
    Last edited by mrmando; Nov-15-2017 at 3:32am.
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  6. #5
    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Alleged 'Early 1900' F4

    Quote Originally Posted by allenhopkins View Post
    So I'd guess late 1930's. Just a guess.
    The problem you'll be having there is that "The Gibson" script is wrong for the '30s.
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  8. #6

    Default Re: Alleged 'Early 1900' F4

    Quote Originally Posted by HonketyHank View Post
    ... what could have happened to cause the damage? ...
    (guessing) Dropped on the end pin, maybe?? Note the white crinkles in the finish on sides *and* bottom, and the little chunk of wood missing in the area near the tailblock edge...

    Click image for larger version. 

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  9. #7
    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Alleged 'Early 1900' F4

    Dragged up a flight of wooden stairs by a toddler? used to mash potatoes?
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  11. #8
    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Alleged 'Early 1900' F4

    One thing that does give one pause is the tuner holes being drilled so far down the headstock: Click image for larger version. 

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    Judging from that photo, one wonders if it's even possible to turn the outermost G and E tuners (the ones closest to the nut). Then there's the abnormally long distance from those tuners down to the nut. Was this new fretboard even installed in the right place? Also note the triple-ply binding, which doesn't match the single-ply on the next two examples.

    Most F4 headstocks seem to have the holes a bit higher:

    Attachment 47310

    Or maybe there's not that much difference, and the eBay photo was just taken from a bad angle? I dunno, here's another with a weird angle and it still doesn't look as extreme.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Last edited by mrmando; Nov-15-2017 at 5:05am.
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    Registered User bluegrasser78's Avatar
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    Default Re: Alleged 'Early 1900' F4

    That looks like a early 40's flowerpot inlay or a redone 1970's Gibson neck/inlay, the fret board inlay looks like the same as a 70's F-5? Gibson did have some F-4's with the flowerpot back in the early 40's that said The Gibson but I'm going to go with a 70's makeover.

  13. #10
    Registered User Tom C's Avatar
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    Default Re: Alleged 'Early 1900' F4

    The neck above nut where truss rod cover is looks abnormally long. '20s headstock, with 40's body and 60's fret board? It does not look like the fat headstocks of 70's

  14. #11

    Default Re: Alleged 'Early 1900' F4

    It's a renecked F-2, probably from the later '20's. Notice the unbound maple back.

    The F-4 style neck was made for "worm gear above shaft" tuners, and has unusual but not unheard of triple binding around the head. There are not enough pictures to say for sure, but I would suggest that the neck is a circa 1940 build. A picture of the back of the neck would be enlightening.

    The neck is not original to the mandolin, and the circa 1920 tuners and the post-war fingerboard are not original to the neck. The instrument is no longer available.

  15. #12
    Orrig Onion HonketyHank's Avatar
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    Default Re: Alleged 'Early 1900' F4

    " This listing was ended by the seller because there was an error in the listing." Seller pulled the auction.
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  16. #13
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Alleged 'Early 1900' F4

    What a display of Cafe expertise! (With mine being the least "expert" of the bunch.)

    And after all that, the mandolin's off the market. Maybe a re-list later; hope someone keeps an eye out for it.
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  17. #14
    Orrig Onion HonketyHank's Avatar
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    Default Re: Alleged 'Early 1900' F4

    I suspect seller was reading this thread. Hi!
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    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Alleged 'Early 1900' F4

    Quote Originally Posted by rcc56 View Post
    It's a renecked F-2, probably from the later '20's. Notice the unbound maple back.
    Excellent; yes, I should have noted the lack of back binding.
    The F-4 style neck was made for "worm gear above shaft" tuners, and has unusual but not unheard of triple binding around the head. There are not enough pictures to say for sure, but I would suggest that the neck is a circa 1940 build. A picture of the back of the neck would be enlightening.

    The neck is not original to the mandolin, and the circa 1920 tuners and the post-war fingerboard are not original to the neck. The instrument is no longer available.
    Ah, indeed, worm-under tuners on a worm-over headstock would account for the odd spacing. Is it possible that those are the original tuners and they were recycled for the new neck?
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  19. #16
    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Alleged 'Early 1900' F4

    Here's a 1940 F4 headstock with worm-over tuners. Click image for larger version. 

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  20. #17
    Orrig Onion HonketyHank's Avatar
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    Default Re: Alleged 'Early 1900' F4

    Now THIS is interesting. Item actually sold for $1800. I'm not sure of the financial mechanics of all this, but somebody got it.
    https://www.ebay.com/sch/mypaintingp...p2046732.m1684
    Last edited by HonketyHank; Nov-15-2017 at 6:20pm.
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  21. #18
    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Alleged 'Early 1900' F4

    Obviously someone negotiated a Buy It Now arrangement with the seller. Good project for whoever it is ... I have enough projects on my plate at the moment. As you can see above, I tried hard to convince myself it was a '24 F4, but I should have listened more closely to my second thoughts.
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  22. #19

    Default Re: Alleged 'Early 1900' F4

    I don't buy on ebay, but did anyone notice that VERY nice 1913 blonde F-4 with one piece back? It comes up in the thumbnails when you view the OP's link. And all the original parts are there. It's about as nice a blonde as I've ever seen.

  23. #20
    Registered User Tom C's Avatar
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    Default Re: Alleged 'Early 1900' F4

    Quote Originally Posted by rcc56 View Post
    I don't buy on ebay, but did anyone notice that VERY nice 1913 blonde F-4 with one piece back? It comes up in the thumbnails when you view the OP's link. And all the original parts are there. It's about as nice a blonde as I've ever seen.
    That's my dream mandolin. Beautiful. I have a kitchen that I need to get re-done though.

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