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Thread: A Napoli mandolin in Australia - but who made it?

  1. #1

    Default A Napoli mandolin in Australia - but who made it?

    Hi all,

    I've been looking for information on this mandolin my wife and I bought at a second hand store. It's not in great condition but I like it as it is. I'm happy to pay for a restoration if it were worth it, but need some help knowing if it would be worth anything anyway... If not - it's going on display anyway just with a little patina character

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: A Napoli mandolin in Australia - but who made it?

    I'm still trying to work out what part of the mandolin is displayed in the second photograph!

    At first sight, as the mandolin holds no sentimental value, I doubt whether the likely expense of restoration would be worth it. That's a pretty bad crack in the top and stringing it up might detroy the thing. The number on the back of the head doesn't look original - I've never seen a serial number on a mandolin of this type/quality and it looks to me as if a previous owner has scratched their postal code or car registration number there to identify it should it be mislad.

    I'll leave it to others to identify who made it. A photograph of the back and the whole thing might help.

  3. #3

    Default Re: A Napoli mandolin in Australia - but who made it?

    Hi Ray, thanks for the quick reply. The second photo I should have described, but is the metal buckle for the case. As you can see it's not particularly ornate so I'm not expecting it to be worth much.

    I know nothing of mandolins, only guitars. A friend who builds and repairs guitars said he will have a look at it next week to see if he could make any easy repairs - but I'm thinking it's hardly worth it at this stage - even at mates rates.

    Maybe someone will surprise me to the contrary.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: A Napoli mandolin in Australia - but who made it?

    Thought it didn't look to be art of a mandolin!

    The trouble with bowlbacks is that, unless it's a particularly known maker, they're probably worth as much as someone would pay to have one hung on the wall.

  5. #5
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: A Napoli mandolin in Australia - but who made it?

    This old thread discusses another bowl-back, found in Australia, and marked "Frenschini Napoli." Heck, it might be the same instrument -- who knows?

    The Mandolin Luthier alphabetic list of Italian Neapolitan Mandolin Makers. which seems pretty comprehensive, doesn't list a Freschini, although that is the name of a fairly well-known Italian composer. So it could well have been a trade name applied to some instruments imported from Europe, whether Italian or from another source. If you post a pic of the entire instrument, the bowl-back experts among us may be able to discern more clues to its origin.

    From first cursory look, you may well have what's termed a "wall hanger," rather than a playable mandolin. Your luthier friend will be able to tell more from hands-on inspection. Doesn't appear you have a diamond in the rough, although the "rough" part seems apropos.
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  6. #6

    Default Re: A Napoli mandolin in Australia - but who made it?

    Thanks guys, a wealth of information and it's much appreciated. I did see that post but couldn't view the old link to see the photos - likely it is the same instrument. Here is the rest of the photos... and maybe one day if it makes its way into someone else's hands they can find it here.


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  7. #7
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    Default Re: A Napoli mandolin in Australia - but who made it?

    The cost of restoring the instrument in question would far exceed its ultimate value, and would probably be sufficient to purchase one of quality already in playable condition.

    I'm reliably informed that a number of makers would crank out decorative mandolin-shaped objects as pretty souvenirs of a trip to Italy, back in the day. It was not expected that they should be particularly playable.

  8. #8

    Default Re: A Napoli mandolin in Australia - but who made it?

    I found something similar in the way of writing on the front, which I hadn't seen much. I must admit it looks a little 'touristy' having that. But then again, if it is as old as it looks maybe it's fine. Here's the one from ebay...

    https://www.ebay.com.au/itm/MANDOLIN...kAAOSw66pZjU9h

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  9. #9

    Default Re: A Napoli mandolin in Australia - but who made it?

    This one is better condition but look at the price tag - almost $500 in our dollar.

    For something in Europe its not very old I guess, but put into our terms, it was made closer to the First Fleet arriving in Botany Bay and unloading convicts in 1788 than it is closer to today. That beats my great great grandmothers wooden fruit bowl in terms of age, and I thought that was old!

  10. #10

    Default Re: A Napoli mandolin in Australia - but who made it?

    I bought that one at trash and treasure market today, probably from the original poster. My lutherie skills are pretty humble, but I thought I have nothing to loose there and gave it a go. The instrument is pretty solidly built and all braces were still intact, so I have filled the cracks with spruce and glued them, dealt with a couple of minor bowl separations, changed the rusty tuners with a spare set I had, improvised about the broken bridge and voila, the instrument sings again without any playability issues. And the sound is surprsingly full and ringing.

    By the way the instrument is probably not from Napoli. It may actually be from Mirecourt. I recall seeing a similar one that was possible to trace down to Mirecourt through another Italian-sounding trade name they used. The stamp on the top looked very similar.

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