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Thread: Curious sunburst Lyon & Healy Style A with Regal label

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    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Curious sunburst Lyon & Healy Style A with Regal label

    Walked into the local shop and found this beauty today:
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    Description here:
    http://store.dustystrings.com/m-175-...ByCategoryID=7

    Not necessarily a reliable description. It has the 13-inch scale, so it's later than 1920, despite what the ad copy says. But I've never seen one of these in a sunburst (could be a refinish, I guess) and I've never seen one with a Regal label. It's a very old label but I don't know enough about Regal labels to pin it down.

    According to Hubert's book, later examples of these mandolins (192835) have "5283" stamped on the neck block, which this one doesn't from what I could ascertain.

    Repaired headstock crack makes it affordable, if you're seeking a Style A but lack the means to pay what they usually sell for.
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    Default Re: Curious sunburst Lyon & Healy Style A with Regal label

    Odd. The pictures aren't as clear as they could be.

    The finish certainly looks old, but I can't tell much from the pictures. I'd have to have this one in hand to form a firm opinion on the finish. I have not heard of one in sunburst before either.

    If it is a refin, it looks old and skillfully done, at least on the front. There is a Regal made Recording King guitar at TR Crandall's that is very similar in color. For some reason, it also kind of reminds me of a late '30's Martin sunburst.

    I have seen L & H carved top mandos with Washburn and even Ditson labels, but this is the first I've heard of with a Regal label. If you go back in there, pls shoot us a picture of the label.

    I'm more used to oddball Gibsons than oddball carved L & H's.
    Last edited by rcc56; Nov-19-2017 at 8:23pm.

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    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Curious sunburst Lyon & Healy Style A with Regal label

    Yeah, I felt flatfooted in there with no camera. Certainly didn't expect to find such an oddball.

    The shop had a copy of Hubert's book for sale, and I'm friendly with the staff, so I showed them how they could find more info and improve the accuracy of their listing. But Sundays are busy days; research won't take place until tomorrow at the earliest.
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    Registered User Bob Clark's Avatar
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    Default Re: Curious sunburst Lyon & Healy Style A with Regal label

    Thanks for posting this, Martin. I'm not in the market for one, but to my eye it sure is pretty. How did it sound? It would be nice if someone here on the Cafe ends up with it.
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    Registered User Denman John's Avatar
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    Default Re: Curious sunburst Lyon & Healy Style A with Regal label

    I would also like to hear how it sounded and played to you. How good was the headstock repair? Any idea what the nut width is and the condition of the frets ... looks interesting
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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Curious sunburst Lyon & Healy Style A with Regal label

    Hmmmm... interesting. Funny that they don't mention the non-original tailpiece cover. Unless Regal decided to make this one without.

    Used Regal (Lyon & Healy) Style A

    Description: 1920, carved figured maple back and sides, carved spruce top, two point body, finish in yellow brown sunburst, oval soundhole with two ring rosette, top and back are double bound, 1-piece ebony bridge, black Bakelite pickguard and headstock verlay, 3 piece mahogany neck with violin style carved scroll, original tuners. Good condition over-all with the normal scuffs and a small ding on the top. There is also a stabilized crack on the back of the headstock that does not go all the way through. Comes with a soft case. Originally made by Washburn and marketed under the Regal and Lyon & Healy brand, this instrument was inspired by the early successes of the Gibson A-Style mandolins. It was the top of the line in 1920 and designed to replace the more traditional bowl-backed mandolins that Washburn was known for.

    Manufacturer: Regal
    $1,100
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    Registered User gweetarpicker's Avatar
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    Default Re: Curious sunburst Lyon & Healy Style A with Regal label

    Wow. This is a cool instrument both in appearance and historically.

    OK I am going to attempt to summarize what I have read. The original Lyon & Healy Style A was reportedly built in house under the Lyon & Healy label starting around 1916. In the mid 1920s, they were rebranded Washburn and given Washburn style numbers (though the labels still say they were made by Lyon & Healy). By this time, the mandolin had changed to the shorter scale length and the two asymmetrical body points. The Washburn labeled mandolins with the Style A design were supposedly made until about 1940.


    Lyon & Healy once owned the Regal brand by divested Regal to a group of investors in 1908. However, the "new" Regal company continued to operate cozily out of the Lyon & Healy factory for a two or three more years until they built a new factory and are thought to have built many string instruments for Lyon & Healy as well as for other distributors during this time. The exact business relationship between Lyon & Healy and the new company is unclear as the trademark for the Regal brand was reportedly not transferred legally to the new Regal company until 1924.

    Lyon & Healy sold the Washburn brand to JR Stewart in 1928. Tonk Brothers acquired the Washburn brand from Stewart in 1930 and hired Regal, who was now supposedly independent of Lyon & Healy, to build the Washburn brand.

    So where does this place the Regal labeled mandolin? Certainly it would be nice to have a photo of the label which might help date it. Also I'm not sure how the patent rights for the A design were assigned. Maybe Lyon & Healy had (or allowed) Regal build it sometime between 1921 (when the shorter scale came out) and 1924?

    www.vintagefrettedinstruments.com

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    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Curious sunburst Lyon & Healy Style A with Regal label

    Well, there are several inaccuracies in that description, so I wouldn't get too excited about it. The center strip in the neck may in fact be wood rather than vulcanized fiber (but it still got the headstock break).

    Given that timeline from gweetarpicker, I'd suspect this to be a post-1930 instrument. It may need some attention, particularly to the fretboard. It didn't seem quite as nice to me as a '20s L&H; an A/B test would be an interesting exercise. The only playable '20s L&H I have at the moment is a mandola, which wouldn't be quite a fair comparison.
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    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Curious sunburst Lyon & Healy Style A with Regal label

    OK, here is a shot of the label from this mandolin. Any Regal experts want to give us a date range based on this?
    Click image for larger version. 

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    I played it a little more ... I don't think it's been played for a while, but the tone is there.
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    Registered User gweetarpicker's Avatar
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    Default Re: Curious sunburst Lyon & Healy Style A with Regal label

    According to Carlin's book, Regal introduced the "custom built" series of guitars and mandolins in 1928 so I have to assume the mandolin is no earlier than 1928. I'm not sure how long the custom built series lasted for the mandolins.

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    Default Re: Curious sunburst Lyon & Healy Style A with Regal label

    I reached out to Bob Carlin (who wrote the book on Regal history) and Hubert Pleijsier (who wrote the book on Washburn history) and compared my notes with them. Neither of them, nor I, have seen this style with a Regal label on it before. It seems like the story on this mando is likely as follows. Regal did not commonly make carved or higher grade instruments until the very late 1920’s or 1930, which was likely a result of and coincided with the time they took over part of the very experienced Lyon & Healy workforce after JR Stewart crashed in that time of the Great Depression. Bob Carlin’s comprehensive book on Regal history pictures the very cool high-end Regal made Bacon & Day Sultana Deluxe model mandolins, but those were not of the same style as this one. There seem to be very few known Tonk Bros labeled post-1930 Style A carved top mandolins of this style as well – and most folks who pay attention to this stuff that have seen them say even those later models branded as a Washburn Mandolin Model 5283, don’t look quite as refined as the L&H 20’s era Style A examples, with perhaps a bit lesser grade woods and/or finishes being used. Since no similar models seem to have come out of the Regal factory, it seems likely that Regal got a bunch of unfinished carved top mandos in the white that had been made at Lyon & Healy or Stewart shops in the 20’s, that were left over and came to them with the Stewart stock they bought, and then the folks in the Regal shop finished them into the late 30’s as orders came in – and as mando sales were very slow in those days, this seems plausible and makes the most sense.

    The Regal labeled asymmetrical body Style A/5283 type mandolin in this thread is clearly an original sunburst lacquer finish - and it matches the finish most commonly seen on guitars made by Regal in the 30’s era, so that looks correct. The hardware also matches other Regal instruments from that time period. So I think we have to conclude that this instrument - which again, is nearly identical to a Washburn model 5283 and the Lyon & Healy Style A - is very likely an instrument that Regal acquired in the late 20’s or early 30’s in the white, that they finished and sold under the Regal brand sometime in or after 1939 when they stopped making instruments under the Washburn brand for Tonk Bros. Since they were not authorized to use the Washburn name after that, and they certainly had the “Regal Custom Made” labels for the instruments sold under their own brand and use, that is how this one was sold. I have some Regal branded guitars from this same era that are nearly identical to slightly earlier Washburn branded instruments - and Bob Carlin's book also pictures a few Regal branded instruments that still had the Washburn model number stamped inside. Who knows, there may still be a Washburn or Lyon & Healy stamp under the "Regal Custom Built" label in this one.....but in any event, it is basically a Washburn 5283/Lyon & Healy Style A wearing a Regal label.

    Mark

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    Some Ability - No Talent MikeZito's Avatar
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    Default Re: Curious sunburst Lyon & Healy Style A with Regal label

    Two Words . . . . Very Cool!
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    Default Re: Curious sunburst Lyon & Healy Style A with Regal label

    Since no similar models seem to have come out of the Regal factory, it seems likely that Regal got a bunch of unfinished carved top mandos in the white that had been made at Lyon & Healy or Stewart shops in the 20’s, that were left over and came to them with the Stewart stock they bought, and then the folks in the Regal shop finished them into the late 30’s as orders came in – and as mando sales were very slow in those days, this seems plausible and makes the most sense.
    Gibson had a habit of clearing out old parts and stock in this same manner. If they had the instruments in the white sitting on a shelf perhaps somebody decided there was money to be made.
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    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Curious sunburst Lyon & Healy Style A with Regal label

    Quote Originally Posted by markd View Post
    So I think we have to conclude that this instrument - which again, is nearly identical to a Washburn model 5283 and the Lyon & Healy Style A - is very likely an instrument that Regal acquired in the late 20’s or early 30’s in the white, that they finished and sold under the Regal brand sometime in or after 1939 when they stopped making instruments under the Washburn brand for Tonk Bros.
    Wow Mark, thanks for the legwork! Have you been down to Dusty Strings to see this in person? I wonder if they still have it — thanks to the repaired headstock break, it was very attractively priced.
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    Default Re: Curious sunburst Lyon & Healy Style A with Regal label

    Quote Originally Posted by rcc56 View Post
    I'm more used to oddball Gibsons than oddball carved L & H's.
    Well, we've seen a few oddballs. Dawg used to have a chocolate brown Style A mandola, and there's at least one chocolate brown Style A mandolin out there, which was discussed here some years back. There are "Special" models with extended 29-fret boards. And there's the Washburn Bernado de Pace signature model 5283 with the abbreviated body. But this is something a little different from all of those.
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    Default Re: Curious sunburst Lyon & Healy Style A with Regal label

    Looks like it was sold. No longer on the site. Did anyone here buy it?

    Here's the description from Dusty Strings site:

    Used Regal (Lyon & Healy) Style A

    Description: 1920, carved figured maple back and sides, carved spruce top, two point body, finish in yellow brown sunburst, oval soundhole with two ring rosette, top and back are double bound, 1-piece ebony bridge, black Bakelite pickguard and headstock verlay, 3 piece mahogany neck with violin style carved scroll, original tuners. Good condition over-all with the normal scuffs and a small ding on the top. There is also a stabilized crack on the back of the headstock that does not go all the way through. Comes with a soft case. Originally made by Washburn and marketed under the Regal and Lyon & Healy brand, this instrument was inspired by the early successes of the Gibson A-Style mandolins. It was the top of the line in 1920 and designed to replace the more traditional bowl-backed mandolins that Washburn was known for.

    Manufacturer: Regal
    $1,100
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    Default Re: Curious sunburst Lyon & Healy Style A with Regal label

    I was sorely tempted by the Regal, but I'm still taking that deep breath after finishing the book project and am trying not to drool too much over cool and unusual mandolins for sale. I have attached a picture of a chocolate brown mandola which is similar to Dawg's. I don't recall ever seeing a brown Style A mandolin or mandocello. I would love to see a photo if someone has one.


    www.vintagefrettedinstruments.com
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    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Curious sunburst Lyon & Healy Style A with Regal label

    You can see the brown mandolin in this thread. It's also unusual in having the long scale and the asymmetrical body:

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/s...-Face-Mandolin
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    Default Re: Curious sunburst Lyon & Healy Style A with Regal label

    I recently bought a UV flashlight, and found I could use it to determine whether an instrument had been oversprayed or repaired.

    Everyone's tastes differ; I don't much care for sunburst Martins, for example, and the burst on this one just seems wrong to me, no doubt because I've only seen, and imprinted on, the natural-finish L&H instruments. I agree that this could be a real sleeper. If it sounds as good as a typical L&H, it would be a huge bargain.

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    Registered User gweetarpicker's Avatar
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    Default Re: Curious sunburst Lyon & Healy Style A with Regal label

    In recent years, the shadetop vintage Martins have really been appreciating in value. While it may have something to do with their rarity, I think Martin guys just got used to the look. To me they looked odd at first, and the sunburst was a Gibson thing anyway. But lately I am starting to like them. The one-off Regal mandolin is a different story of course. With that scroll headstock, you expect a natural or brown violin-like finish. Can you imagine how odd a sunburst violin would look? I guess the Regal is cool if only because it is unique, and I agree that the Regal could be a great bargain tonewise.

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Curious sunburst Lyon & Healy Style A with Regal label

    I love the oddball look if it is done correctly. Until recently Martin did the sunburst oddly with a little too-abrupt a transition. The older ones were very nice bad but for some odd reason I see too many recent sunburst Martins look clunky. A friend has a nice subtle one made in the last year or so, I think a 000-18. BION Gibson was better at sunburst.

    I love those few dark brown L&H mandolins and mandolas. I also would love to see a L&H mandocello which IMHO is the ultimate vintage mandocello in both tone and looks.
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    Default Re: Curious sunburst Lyon & Healy Style A with Regal label

    Quote Originally Posted by gweetarpicker View Post
    Can you imagine how odd a sunburst violin would look?
    I suspect the "sunburst" originated within the violin world.

    In the olden times, violin cases were slide-in end-opening, except for fancy coffin cases meant for display. The friction would wear through some of the finish on the back, creating a lighter area. The top was also worn somewhat, in the pre-chinrest days. So makers would imitate the effects of age in order to imitate the look, price and desirability of older instruments.

    Of course, in the really older days, no one cared about old violins. Tarisio was the first to scour Italy and environs for old Stads and the like, and ultimately begat the first wave of vintage instrument buyers.

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    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Curious sunburst Lyon & Healy Style A with Regal label

    I had another visit with this mandolin today in custody of its new owner, and was able to fix it up with a quality case for protection. It's in good hands.
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