Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 25 of 28

Thread: Gibson family heirloom - model A-C

  1. #1

    Default Gibson family heirloom - model A-C

    New member, first post...

    This was my dad's mandolin. He was born in 1925 and was given this instrument when he was 10. I've tried to research the date of manufacture and have come up short. The s/n is "176 C" (I'm assuming the "C" stands for Century). I never noticed before but the case has "GS" stamped into the latches. Any information on the mando and case would be greatly appreciated. Here are some pics...

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	fullsizeoutput_17fc.jpg 
Views:	69 
Size:	225.5 KB 
ID:	162558Click image for larger version. 

Name:	fullsizeoutput_17fd.jpg 
Views:	106 
Size:	860.6 KB 
ID:	162559Click image for larger version. 

Name:	fullsizeoutput_17fe.jpg 
Views:	94 
Size:	725.8 KB 
ID:	162560Click image for larger version. 

Name:	fullsizeoutput_17ff.jpg 
Views:	99 
Size:	801.3 KB 
ID:	162561Click image for larger version. 

Name:	fullsizeoutput_1800.jpg 
Views:	94 
Size:	762.3 KB 
ID:	162562Click image for larger version. 

Name:	fullsizeoutput_1801.jpg 
Views:	76 
Size:	706.1 KB 
ID:	162563

  2. The Following 4 Users Say Thank You to aleaddict For This Useful Post:


  3. #2
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    40.191N -74.2W
    Posts
    20,503

    Default Re: Gibson family heirloom - model A-C

    This is one of the Gibson Century of Progress instruments.

    From the late Stan Jay at Mandolin Brothers in Staten Island, NY:

    In 1933 Chicago celebrated its 100th anniversary by hosting the Century of Progress Exhibition. A couple of hours northeast of Chicago [in Kalamazoo, Michigan], the Gibson Company found this event and its considerable media attention too good to be wasted. So they named a new guitar (note: and mandolin) after it.
    They come up every now and then here.

    There are lots of references to it on the Internet.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  4. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to MikeEdgerton For This Useful Post:


  5. #3
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Sep 2015
    Location
    Ohio
    Posts
    630

    Default Re: Gibson family heirloom - model A-C

    Looks like your dad took care of it, have you tried playing it? I would probably use light to very light strings on it, due to age.

  6. The following members say thank you to LadysSolo for this post:


  7. #4
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    40.191N -74.2W
    Posts
    20,503

    Default Re: Gibson family heirloom - model A-C

    There is a Facebook group that is run by a cafe member that deals strictly in vintage cases.

    https://www.facebook.com/groups/vint...strumentcases/
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  8. The following members say thank you to MikeEdgerton for this post:


  9. #5
    Registered User colorado_al's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Boulder, CO & Chesterfield, MO
    Posts
    1,895

    Default Re: Gibson family heirloom - model A-C

    Looks to be in nice condition. With original case too!

    Here's one listed at $3800
    https://reverb.com/item/6521878-1937...dolin-sunburst

    #185A is listed as made in 1935
    http://pickerssupply.com/vintage-ins...gress-mandolin

    I certainly would believe #176C is also from 1935 when your dad was 10

  10. The following members say thank you to colorado_al for this post:


  11. #6

    Default Re: Gibson family heirloom - model A-C

    I only remember my dad playing it a couple times so it mostly stayed in the case. One summer during college (either '79 or '80) I took bluegrass mandolin lessons at McCabe's guitar shop in Santa Monica, CA. I've been playing it off and on over the years but lately met some amateur bluegrass musicians so its received a little more of my attention. I just put new strings on it (D'Addario EJ74 Phosphor Bronze Mandolin Strings, Medium, 11-40). If these are too heavy for this age instrument I'll swap them for something lighter. I've never adjusted the truss rod either. The only person who ever worked on it was John at McCabe's (my instructor) and he passed away about 6 years ago. I'm about 2-1/2 hours drive from Gryphon in Palo Alto and was thinking about taking it there for an inspection and tweak (if needed). The case also needs some work but for the most part its also in excellent shape, considering its age. The only thing missing is the handle.

    Sorry for the long, rambling reply... many thanks for the references and input. I always thought the mando was a '35 but from the info I've read it looks more like an early production 1934 Century.

    ETA: thanks colorado_al !! That pretty much confirms what my dad told me
    Last edited by aleaddict; Nov-26-2017 at 11:12pm. Reason: edited to add (ETA)

  12. The Following 3 Users Say Thank You to aleaddict For This Useful Post:


  13. #7
    Teacher, luthier
    Join Date
    Oct 2017
    Location
    Southeast Tennessee
    Posts
    352

    Default Re: Gibson family heirloom - model A-C

    Actually, 176 C is what we call a factory order number. The letter C indicates the year 1937. [A=1935, B=1936, C=1937, and so on until '41 or '42]. Gibson used letter codes again in the 1950's, going backward through the alphabet starting with Z in 1952.

    The Century mandolins with the pearloid fingerboard were introduced in 1934, and last catalogued in 1936. They continued to make them through part of 1937. They were not made in large numbers. Yours would not only be one of the last ones made, it is also one of the last oval hole A models to be made [unless you count the two point A-5 monstrosities made from 1957 through the sixties]. It appears to be in excellent original condition, and the case is original to the mandolin. G & S indicates that the case was made by Geib.

    Some of the Century guitars had laminated backs, some were solid. I don't know about the mandolins. The folks at Gryphon can tell you that when you bring the mandolin in for inspection.

    I personally won't use an .026 on a prewar Gibson. I would recommend the J67 11-14-25-39 set, or make up your own set. I generally use 10 1/2-14-24-40 with nickel basses on oval hole Gibsons.

    Take good care of that mandolin. Most Centuries that I see are not in such nice condition.

    The Gibson factory order number systems with letter codes were the most consistent system Gibson used in the old days, so it looks like your dad got this for his 12th birthday, not his 10th.

  14. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to rcc56 For This Useful Post:


  15. #8
    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Seattle
    Posts
    11,451

    Default Re: Gibson family heirloom - model A-C

    G&S stands for Geib & Schaefer, manufacturers of the case. That mando looks like a real winner and is worth some dough.
    Emando.com: More than you wanted to know about electric mandolins.

    Notorious: My Celtic CD--listen & buy!

    Donaldson Wood Thormahlen Andersen Old Wave Bacorn Yanuziello Fender National Gibson Franke Fuchs Aceto Three Hungry Pit Bulls

  16. The following members say thank you to mrmando for this post:


  17. #9
    Fatally Flawed willkamm's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2015
    Location
    Annapolis, MD
    Posts
    1,130

    Default Re: Gibson family heirloom - model A-C

    "The Gibson factory order number systems with letter codes were the most consistent system Gibson used in the old days, so it looks like your dad got this for his 12th birthday, not his 10th.[/QUOTE]

    Actually, 176 C is what we call a factory order number. The letter C indicates the year 1937. [A=1935, B=1936, C=1937, and so on until '41 or '42]. Gibson used letter codes again in the 1950's, going backward through the alphabet starting with Z in 1952."



    Take good care of that mandolin. Most Centuries that I see are not in such nice condition.

    That's what I have. 1937 according to my copy of the Spann publication.
    Northfield F5S (2017)
    Weber Gallatin "A" wide nut (2016)
    Breedlove Legacy OF A/E (2015)
    TKD Eagle Electric 8 string (2016)
    Kentucky KM-900 (2017)

    Hohner Marine Bands (various keys)

    "Nobody goes there any longer. It got much too crowded".

  18. The following members say thank you to willkamm for this post:


  19. #10
    Rush Burkhardt Rush Burkhardt's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Towson, MD
    Posts
    234

    Default Re: Gibson family heirloom - model A-C

    IMHO the "provenance" of your mandolin makes it priceless! Play it and enjoy it!
    Rush Burkhardt
    Towson, MD


    Free opinions are worth exactly what you pay for them!

  20. The Following 4 Users Say Thank You to Rush Burkhardt For This Useful Post:


  21. #11
    Registered User bluegrasser78's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Sugar Grove,PA
    Posts
    1,641
    Blog Entries
    1

    Default Re: Gibson family heirloom - model A-C

    Yes Kool Old 37 A-C! I had one at one point in time, sound was ok, these had a flat back, I thought as fancy as that baby is it should be a carved back but hey that was Gibson. Enjoy that and keep her in the family. NICE

  22. The following members say thank you to bluegrasser78 for this post:


  23. #12
    Registered User colorado_al's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Boulder, CO & Chesterfield, MO
    Posts
    1,895

    Default Re: Gibson family heirloom - model A-C

    In the years of the great depression they were making mostly flat back mandolins to keep the cost down. Likely has a solid maple flat back.

  24. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to colorado_al For This Useful Post:


  25. #13

    Default Re: Gibson family heirloom - model A-C

    Just a little background story for those interested...

    My dad was born Oct. 28, 1925 and raised in St. Louis, MO. When he was 14, his father (my grandpa) suddenly died. He was quite athletic before his passing so this came as a total shock to the family. There were no "social safety nets" back in those days so my grandmother, who was a "homemaker," and her three boys (ages 7, 14 and 17) all found themselves in abject poverty overnight. They moved from their middle-class house into a 2-room apartment in south St. Louis, near the old Ted Drews frozen custard shop off Grand Ave (if you're from the Show Me state you'll know the area... also known as "Dutchtown"). My grandmother took two jobs to support her young family. One was working in the boiler room of a hospital cleaning linens. The other was with an accountant, who she eventually married. When the U.S. joined the Allies during WWII, my oldest uncle enlisted with the air-force and became a B-17 gunner. As soon as my dad turned 18 he also joined the air-force, although the war was almost over so he never saw combat. These were truly "The Greatest Generation."

    How this mandolin survived these early days with no money, no welfare system, and a single mom with no labor skills raising three adolescent boys during a global conflict is mind-boggling. I'm sure a lot of personal possessions were lost during this dark time. But somehow they managed to keep food on the plate and a place to hang their hat... oh, and the mando in the original case!

    I think of my dad every time I play this instrument. I also think of my grandmother, my uncles and the hardships they endured before I was ever born. Music is the universal language and these "vintage" instruments we play have a story all to themselves.

  26. The Following 14 Users Say Thank You to aleaddict For This Useful Post:

    + Show/Hide list of the thanked


  27. #14
    Registered User colorado_al's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Boulder, CO & Chesterfield, MO
    Posts
    1,895

    Default Re: Gibson family heirloom - model A-C

    Quote Originally Posted by aleaddict View Post
    Just a little background story for those interested...

    My dad was born Oct. 28, 1925 and raised in St. Louis, MO. When he was 14, his father (my grandpa) suddenly died. He was quite athletic before his passing so this came as a total shock to the family. There were no "social safety nets" back in those days so my grandmother, who was a "homemaker," and her three boys (ages 7, 14 and 17) all found themselves in abject poverty overnight. They moved from their middle-class house into a 2-room apartment in south St. Louis, near the old Ted Drews frozen custard shop off Grand Ave (if you're from the Show Me state you'll know the area... also known as "Dutchtown"). My grandmother took two jobs to support her young family. One was working in the boiler room of a hospital cleaning linens. The other was with an accountant, who she eventually married. When the U.S. joined the Allies during WWII, my oldest uncle enlisted with the air-force and became a B-17 gunner. As soon as my dad turned 18 he also joined the air-force, although the war was almost over so he never saw combat. These were truly "The Greatest Generation."

    How this mandolin survived these early days with no money, no welfare system, and a single mom with no labor skills raising three adolescent boys during a global conflict is mind-boggling. I'm sure a lot of personal possessions were lost during this dark time. But somehow they managed to keep food on the plate and a place to hang their hat... oh, and the mando in the original case!

    I think of my dad every time I play this instrument. I also think of my grandmother, my uncles and the hardships they endured before I was ever born. Music is the universal language and these "vintage" instruments we play have a story all to themselves.
    What a great story to go with this instrument. Really a treasure! So glad that it, and your family, survived intact! Thanks for sharing it.
    I used to live near that area of STL, in the Lindenwood Park neighborhood, just West of Jamieson Ave near Lansdowne. I bet it hasn't changed that much since your family lived there.

  28. The following members say thank you to colorado_al for this post:


  29. #15
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    NC
    Posts
    3,148

    Default Re: Gibson family heirloom - model A-C

    Thanks for posting pics and also giving the background story...very cool indeed!!
    Chuck

  30. The following members say thank you to CES for this post:


  31. #16

    Default Re: Gibson family heirloom - model A-C

    That instrument looks beautiful.

    It's such a fine example of a relatively rare mandolin, that I'd pretty much keep it at home. Too nice to take out and get banged up. It might be one of the finest examples of that model that remain.

    Your grandmother's background story sounds like it almost could have come from Tennessee Williams' "Glass Menagerie"...

  32. The following members say thank you to J.Albert for this post:


  33. #17

    Default Re: Gibson family heirloom - model A-C

    Thanks gang for all the positive feedback and information. I'm especially appreciative of the history lesson and correct date assignment. I promise you guys and gals that this mando will never leave my sight, but it is a functioning instrument and will continue to be played and properly cared for. I have a beater Ibanez for deer camp so I only pull out dad's A-C when I'm home or with my bluegrass friends in a "controlled environment" lol.

    My grandmother was only 5 ft tall, and although small in stature was the pillar of our family. Being from Cali, I was lucky enough to be accepted to St. Louis University during my postgraduate studies and learned a lot about my dad's family who immigrated from Germany in 1898. I have more family born, raised and buried in St. Louis than anywhere else in this country. In the early years, they couldn't rub two nickels together... great-grandma and her brother were both brought up in an orphanage. Hearing these stories first-hand, and many more like it, makes one appreciate the life we are all given today.

    Anyway, that's the kind of stuff I think about when I play the A-C... not that I'm any good but I love to play and it makes me feel good inside.

  34. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to aleaddict For This Useful Post:


  35. #18
    Registered User Ivan Kelsall's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Manchester - Lancashire - NW England
    Posts
    13,256

    Default Re: Gibson family heirloom - model A-C

    Your idea of taking your mandolin to Gryphon Instruments for a 'health check' is a good one. It looks to be in top condition 'outside',but a good look around inside for anything coming adrift makes good sense to me. If anything is starting to fail,putting it right now is far easier that putting it right 'after' it's failed. Gryphon might also be able to advise on string 'gauges' for it as well.

    My Ellis "A" style is a lightly built mandolin & i use GHS A270's on it - Tom Ellis's string of choice. The GHS strings are a very 'sweet' sounding string. Maybe the lighter GHS A250's would suit your mandolin ?. It's a real beauty !!,
    Ivan
    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	GHS A250.jpg 
Views:	12 
Size:	173.4 KB 
ID:	162619

    PS - It was my own Grandfather's Uke-banjo that got me started in this whole music thing !.
    Weber F-5 'Fern'.
    Lebeda F-5 "Special".
    Stelling Bellflower BANJO
    Tokai - 'Tele-alike'.
    Ellis DeLuxe "A" style.

  36. The following members say thank you to Ivan Kelsall for this post:


  37. #19
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Rochester NY 14610
    Posts
    15,095

    Default Re: Gibson family heirloom - model A-C

    Related question: does anyone have any experience or insight into the durability of Pearloid fingerboards? They were quite the fad for a short period of time, on fancier instruments, but now the faux pearl plastic gets dissed as "mother of toilet seat."

    I just wonder how they hold up, now 80 years after they were manufactured.
    Allen Hopkins
    Gibsn: '54 F5 3pt F2 A-N Custm K1 m'cello
    Natl Triolian Dobro mando
    Victoria b-back Merrill alumnm b-back
    H-O mandolinetto
    Stradolin Vega banjolin
    Sobell'dola Washburn b-back'dola
    Eastmn: 615'dola 805 m'cello
    Flatiron 3K OM

  38. The following members say thank you to allenhopkins for this post:


  39. #20
    Registered User bluegrasser78's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Sugar Grove,PA
    Posts
    1,641
    Blog Entries
    1

    Default Re: Gibson family heirloom - model A-C

    Good ? Allen! I've seen pearloid guards on old Gibson banjos and banjolins from the 20's and 30's and they still look great. Gibson must've changed the composition of their regular pickguards in the 30's because a real good share of them in the 30's have the gas off/deterioration and any pre 1930's guards seem to all hold up great, I don't think I've ever seen an early guard deteriorate? I'm talking mandolin pickguards.

  40. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to bluegrasser78 For This Useful Post:


  41. #21
    Teacher, luthier
    Join Date
    Oct 2017
    Location
    Southeast Tennessee
    Posts
    352

    Default Re: Gibson family heirloom - model A-C

    The "pearloid fingerboards" on the Century models were actually a pearloid overlay laminated to a maple fingerboard, then sprayed with a couple of coats of lacquer. I have refretted a couple of these. They are quite durable. They might be a little more susceptible to finger wear than ebony, so keep your nails clipped.

  42. The following members say thank you to rcc56 for this post:


  43. #22

    Default Re: Gibson family heirloom - model A-C

    Just to add one more "curio and relic" photo to this thread, these "new old stock" strings have been inside the mando case since I can remember. I never knew "Brilliancy" was even a word!
    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	IMG_2108.jpg 
Views:	25 
Size:	642.1 KB 
ID:	162640

  44. The following members say thank you to aleaddict for this post:


  45. #23

    Default Re: Gibson family heirloom - model A-C

    I never knew "Brilliancy" was even a word!
    Not only a word also a song! There is another thread in the Song and Tune section with Sam Bush and Chris Thile playing it.

  46. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to CarlM For This Useful Post:


  47. #24
    Registered User Timbofood's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Kalamazoo, MI.
    Posts
    6,106

    Default Re: Gibson family heirloom - model A-C

    Aleaddict,
    Do future owners a kindness and write (and I mean hand write) the history,fold it neatly and tuck the information in the case for future generations. It is a wonderful piece of family history and the instrument needs to have its history preserved too!
    I have an old piece of family history like it (mandolin banjo from 1919) the recording of the family relationship is much more valuable than its commercial worth. Well, to me, at least.
    Timothy F. Lewis
    "If brains was lard, that boy couldn't grease a very big skillet" J.D. Clampett

  48. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to Timbofood For This Useful Post:


  49. #25
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Rochester NY 14610
    Posts
    15,095

    Default Re: Gibson family heirloom - model A-C

    Quote Originally Posted by bluegrasser78 View Post
    ...I've seen pearloid guards on old Gibson banjos and banjolins from the 20's and 30's and they still look great...I'm talking mandolin pickguards.
    Cool, but I'm talking fingerboards, which have strings rubbing against them under finger pressure. How does the plastic hold up after a few decades of pressing wound steel strings against it?

    I've seem some Harmony Roy Smeck ukuleles that look fine after 50 years of use, but nylon strings are another matter; the hard plastic fingerboard is not likely to be too much eroded by nylon strings -- not as compared to steel/brass mandolin or banjo strings.

    No doubt the Pearloid was more stable than the type of celluloid Gibson (and Martin as well) was using for pickguards in the same era -- that shrank, out-gassed, and generally failed. But several fancier Gibson banjos had Pearloid fingerboards, as well as the A-C mandolin. Did they last?
    Allen Hopkins
    Gibsn: '54 F5 3pt F2 A-N Custm K1 m'cello
    Natl Triolian Dobro mando
    Victoria b-back Merrill alumnm b-back
    H-O mandolinetto
    Stradolin Vega banjolin
    Sobell'dola Washburn b-back'dola
    Eastmn: 615'dola 805 m'cello
    Flatiron 3K OM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •