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Thread: '25 Fern on eBay?

  1. #1
    Future Mandolinist
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    Default '25 Fern on eBay?

    What say the vintage experts? Legit or not? Obviously had some bits and pieces replaced (tailpiece, tuners?). It strikes me as off somehow. Binding seems too bright, finish seems too good. If it's really a '25 it must have spent most of those years under a bed (not impossible though). It's at some sort of online pawnshop which is suspicious as well.

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/Gibson-F-5-...kAAOSwcBhWZys4

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    Default Re: '25 Fern on eBay?

    This should be interesting.
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    Default Re: '25 Fern on eBay?

    That's Guitar Exchange, which was in Chicago for years. I didn't know they had moved. They have had that mandolin on the market for at least 2 or 3 years. They originally were asking quite a bit more for it-- $110k is their "reduced price." The tuners look correct to me, so does the pickguard. I have no opinion on the tailpiece or the bridge, the pictures aren't clear enough. It's hard to judge the finish for sure on any instrument from pictures alone, especially if it's unusually clean. Most of what I see on the body looks right for a 20's F-5, the neck looks almost too good; but . . .

    1. An F-5 that it is not signed is not a Loar of any kind, it is simply an F-5. "Unsigned Loar" is marketing voodoo.
    2. The price is high for any F-5 that is not signed.
    3. The ebay listing says "Seller does not accept returns." But the store website says 24 hour approval. Which is it?
    4. If I read that serial number correctly, it looks like 86490 to me [???]. But I'm not sure what I'm seeing. Gruhn's old list places that number in 1928, Spann's list [which Gruhn now uses as his shop reference] places it in 1930.
    5. I'd want to see much better pictures to even think of evaluating a clean 85-95 year old finish from a computer screen.

    The mandolin may or may not be completely original, I can't say for sure from those pictures. But I want to know for sure what that serial number is before even speculating on a correct price for the instrument.

  4. #4

    Default Re: '25 Fern on eBay?

    Quote Originally Posted by JLeather View Post
    It's at some sort of online pawnshop which is suspicious as well.
    The eBay listing says it is in Catonsville, Maryland. How far is that from you? Looks like a vintage guitar store with some fairly high-end inventory. Maybe arrange to go see it.

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    Default Re: '25 Fern on eBay?

    Their website lists their current location as 740 Frederick Rd, Baltimore.

    www.guitarexchangeonline.com/

    I know nothing about them except they have been around for awhile.
    I need to correct my earlier post, I don't believe that they were ever in Chicago.
    Last edited by rcc56; Feb-21-2018 at 3:18am.

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    Default Re: '25 Fern on eBay?

    Its legit, Hardware well tuners are original, can't get a good look at the tailpiece. I couldn't make out the # but the back sure does look like loads of 27-28's I've seen? The case is right. Hard to tell but neck and body finish appears different but I did just wake up!

  7. #7
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    Default Re: '25 Fern on eBay?

    Posted on my facebook page if nothing more than sheeps & giggles. Maybe show some of my friends what a $100K mandolin looks like, so the next time they complain about me spending $300 on a Seagull I can point to that!

    Hmm... tried Zoner and cannot make out the first number no mater what enhancement I use. Looks like an 8 and it appears to dip below the line when using an embossing technique.

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    Last edited by James Miller; Feb-21-2018 at 4:28am.
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    Default Re: '25 Fern on eBay?

    #81490 would put it at a 1925 since there is a 25 fern in the archive right before her with #81489. Its the real deal and the white binding is correct. as Loars had the grained type binding but some 24 Loars did have the white binding. I'm sure its all correct and the real deal but its been for sale for many years now due to the price! Prices are down quite a bit and I know some Loars could be bought for around what this fern costs! The inside edge of the F-holes have been painted white? Why Ya got me, I guess a cheap alternative to having someone putting binding on em? I'm sure it does sound fantastic but for that amount of cash you may as well go for a Loar?

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    Default Re: '25 Fern on eBay?

    Quote Originally Posted by rcc56 View Post
    An F-5 that it is not signed is not a Loar of any kind, it is simply an F-5. "Unsigned Loar" is marketing voodoo.
    I agree that signed is "better" or at least the one to invest in. But, wouldn't a 1925 have been made by the same workers who made the 1924's? In other words, wouldn't the quality be the same as a signed Loar?

    I don't think anybody is saying a 1925 is a bad mandolin. It is just the price that is fueling the discussion.

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    Default Re: '25 Fern on eBay?

    Everything about this mandolin is completely straight (except for the F-hole treatment) and as it should be. A closet queen Fern a la extreme! Even appears to have the original frets on board. A perfect, un-touched example as far as I can see... not perfect as in "mint", but pretty close and completely original. The price however is high...

    A very well-known and respected instrument dealer I know has played this and says the potential for this one is immense. He also says it is highly unusual in that it has a true Loar-era varnish finish unlike those just a bit later. Larry said it was basically "an unsigned Fern Loar".

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  12. #11
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    Default Re: '25 Fern on eBay?

    Guess the verdict is in then. Thanks guys. I did run across the ad because it was so close to home. I doubt I'll get into Baltimore any time soon, but it's good to keep an ear out for stuff like this in the area

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    Default Re: '25 Fern on eBay?

    Lotto has not been drawn yet...
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    Default Re: '25 Fern on eBay?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Mando View Post
    The eBay listing says it is in Catonsville, Maryland. How far is that from you? Looks like a vintage guitar store with some fairly high-end inventory. Maybe arrange to go see it.
    Guitar Exchange is very near what is IMHO a very reputable music house, Appalachian Bluegrass Shop.

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    Default Re: '25 Fern on eBay?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Mando View Post
    I agree that signed is "better" or at least the one to invest in. But, wouldn't a 1925 have been made by the same workers who made the 1924's? In other words, wouldn't the quality be the same as a signed Loar?

    I don't think anybody is saying a 1925 is a bad mandolin. It is just the price that is fueling the discussion.
    Many later '20's mandolins are indeed very good sounding, and were probably made by at least some of the same workers to at least some of the same specs. But the bottom line is that a large part of a Loar's value is determined by the presence of a signed label.

    Look at it this way-- if an F-5 came on the market with a 1923 serial number in it but the signed label had been removed, would you expect it to sell for full price?

    It doesn't matter much whether the mandolin at Guitar Exchange is a 1925, 1928, or 1930. At any rate, we can't read the serial number well enough to say which it is. The first digit might or might not be an 8; the second digit might be a 1, or it might be a 6. No way to tell without an in-hand inspection, if it is indeed readable at all. The bottom line is that most buyers will not pay six figures for an unsigned '20's F-5. Even if it's the best sounding F-5 that was ever made. That's why the instrument hasn't sold.

    By the way, since Spann's updated serial number list has come out, the dates of a large number of the mandolins in the archive will have to be corrected. Or we can start arguing endlessly about whether we should use Spann's list or the old Gruhn's list. I will again note that Gruhn is now using Spann's list for his shop reference.
    Last edited by rcc56; Feb-22-2018 at 1:46am.

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    Default Re: '25 Fern on eBay?

    Here's another way to understand how market values are affected by one or two little details:

    There are 3 differences between a '39 Martin D-28 and one made in '43. The first is that the '39 had a steel bar in the neck and the '43 had an ebony bar, due to wartime metal restrictions. The 2nd difference is the tuning machines. Otherwise, the instruments are identical to each other, except for the 3rd difference-- the date of manufacture and serial number. That 3rd difference is worth 30 or 40 thousand dollars.

    Here's a place where the differences are even smaller: A 1942 Gibson J-45 is structurally identical to a '46 J-45. Same woods, same bracing. The only difference is cosmetic-- the '42 has a banner logo, and the '46 has a plain script logo. A '54 model is still structurally identical to the earlier models, except for a different bridge shape and a very minor difference in the peghead shape that most people don't even notice. But it has a block logo instead of a script logo. If all three guitars are in the same condition, the 1942 banner head will bring 25% more than the script logo '46 model, and 50% more than the block logo '54 model.

    If two 1920's F-5's are identical except that one has a signed label and the other does not, the signed instrument has a much higher market value.

    Whether it makes sense or not, that's how the market works.
    Last edited by rcc56; Feb-22-2018 at 2:12am.

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    Default Re: '25 Fern on eBay?

    The owner of that 25 fern sent me some sound clips about a year ago, it has the tone! Also remember there are a quite a few configurations/price with war time Banner J-45's, some are all Mahogany, some spruce top with mahogany, some spruce top with maple back and sides, some 1,3 and 5 piece necks. Serial # on that fern looks like 81490 and that falls in 25! Some #s even on a few Loars were changed most likely at the factory. Elderly has a March 31st 24 with the same type of #. If it was 75G it would sell IMHO. Its just too close to real Loar prices.

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    Default Re: '25 Fern on eBay?

    Quote Originally Posted by rcc56 View Post

    Look at it this way-- if an F-5 came on the market with a 1923 serial number in it but the signed label had been removed, would you expect it to sell for full price?

    .
    That's an interesting question. If an instrument can be proven to be a Loar but the label is now gone then what? So what's a label worth?

    Phil

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    Default Re: '25 Fern on eBay?

    The high-end buyers are very choosy these days, especially about originality. My guess would be that the label would be worth at least 50k, perhaps much more.

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    Fatally Flawed willkamm's Avatar
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    Default Re: '25 Fern on eBay?

    It's this mandolin here; http://www.guitarexchangeonline.com/...x?item=3429631

    Legit. He's in Catonsville, Maryland not far from Bill's Music and Appalachian Bluegrass. His place is called the Guitar Exchange. All three are clustered together on Frederick Road. I thought he has had this for a while, or one very similar. He's also got a 1917 F-2 I believe. Good guitar inventory. Quite a few older Martins. Name is Bruce I believe. He has nothing to do with any other "Guitar Exchange". Here's the link for the place. http://www.guitarexchangeonline.com/Site/Home.html
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  23. #20
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    Default Re: '25 Fern on eBay?

    Quote Originally Posted by Greg Stec View Post
    Guitar Exchange is very near what is IMHO a very reputable music house, Appalachian Bluegrass Shop.
    Also right near Bill's music. All three are clustered together like grapes.
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  24. #21
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    Default Re: '25 Fern on eBay?

    The guy advertises it as Post Loar. I don't think he's saying its an unsigned Loar at all?
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  25. #22
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    Default Re: '25 Fern on eBay?

    Right now he's got this on Reverb also. There are 3 Lloyd Loar's on Reverb right along with it.
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  26. #23

    Default Re: '25 Fern on eBay?

    Hmmm, so it is $40K cheaper than the cheapest Loar at $150K, assuming $150K is a fair retail value of a signed Loar.......I'm not sure it really is these days since they sell so slowly, hard to say.......

    Excuse my use of the word "cheap" -- nothing cheap about them....

    What I can't seem to get into perspective is, everyone who knows instruments knows what a Loar F5 is, YET at any given time there are maybe 7-10 signed Loars for sale somewhere in the world, usually on Reverb, Carters, Elderly, Gruhn, etc. (easy to find via the internet) and in a world of 7 billion people there are no buyers @ $150-175K! Talk about a slow market -- some of these have been for sale for 2 or 3 years. I think the one Dave's Guitars had was longer than that, actually. FWIW, I'm no expert on Loars, but I have common sense and know when the price is right, EVERYTHING eventually sells. So, what gives? What is the real price? Obviously, the price is being "kept" artificially high since it is a blue chip investment, supposedly. (no, not that Blue Chip....)

    Any thoughts? I can totally see not wanting to "sell" the 1925 for $60K, as it is really nice, but put into perspective........well?

    Having worked in the vintage market for years, I can say there are at least two types of vintage dealers. One buys and sells for a living and has to move merchandise each month to make a living and pay bills. Another, is more well-funded and doesn't have to sell to pay bills. This person can wait until they get their price. Not sure if that is what is going on or not.

    To a casual observer, it seems like an entire market is controlled by a handful of people.

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    Default Re: '25 Fern on eBay?

    No, ultimately the market is controlled by the buyers. Anyone can post a Loar [or anything else, for that matter] here on the forum, and if the price is desirable to someone else, it will eventually sell.

    What is confusing to us older folks is that this is the first time we have seen a bear market in the vintage instrument world, and we're not used to it.

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  29. #25
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    Default Re: '25 Fern on eBay?

    Gruhn, Elderly, Wexer have Loars for sale starting at 120! They look nice to me, I'm sure from a private individual one can get a better deal as dealers have a markup of well some 20% and more?
    Or you could put some more $ in the kitty and get that flea market hardly molested fern March 31st 24 Loar out of San Jose, asking price is 165?
    Last edited by bluegrasser78; Feb-26-2018 at 3:14am.

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