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Thread: Help dating this Kay Mandolin

  1. #1

    Default Help dating this Kay Mandolin

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  2. #2

    Default Re: Help dating this Kay Mandolin

    This was a gift from a friend who purchased it new. He can not remember exactly but thinks it was the late 30's.

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    Default Re: Help dating this Kay Mandolin

    Flowers might help.

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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help dating this Kay Mandolin

    We have a member that seems to have the catalogs for these. He'll pop in here in the next day or so.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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  7. #5

    Default Re: Help dating this Kay Mandolin

    Thank you.

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help dating this Kay Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post
    We have a member that seems to have the catalogs for these. He'll pop in here in the next day or so.
    Well, until that guy with all those catalogs shows up—maybe this would help. This is a page from a 1947-1948 Grossman catalog, a distributor. The K-70 is pictured at the upper left and has the same features as the OP's mandolin including the logo.

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    Jim

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  10. #7

    Default Re: Help dating this Kay Mandolin

    Wow! $39.00 strikes me as a lot of money for 1947....

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    Registered User nmiller's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help dating this Kay Mandolin

    The combination of dot fret markers, segmented f-holes, and a raised plastic logo on this model is pictured in Kay catalogs from 1952 to 1954. That's not definitive, since who knows how long they used old pictures, but it's a pretty reasonable estimate.
    www.OldFrets.com: the obscure side of vintage instruments.

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  13. #9

    Default Re: Help dating this Kay Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Mando View Post
    Wow! $39.00 strikes me as a lot of money for 1947....
    Equivalent to $449 in 2018, according to an Inflation Calculator. I wonder if that K-70 Kay sounded as good as what $449 can buy new nowadays? Thinking of all the Kentucky models, etc., that people here are always saying have good tone for the price. If I had to bet, just guessing, I'd say a modern new $449-ish Kentucky would probably sound 'better' than the Kay... but maybe not...

    Interestingly, that same catalog page's cheapest mandolin was a flat top for $15.75, or the equivalent of $181 in 2018. That does seem high compared to our options nowadays for ultra-cheap mandolins, namely a modern $50 Rogue, although I suppose that's comparing apples/oranges (flat vs curved top).

    How about this for sticker shock: DeArmond mandolin pickup with volume control, $27.50 each, which the inflation calculator says is equivalent to $317 in 2018.

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  15. #10

    Default Re: Help dating this Kay Mandolin

    The gentleman, who is now 96, that gave it to me could not remember exactly, but stated he bought it eithe just before, or after his service in WWII.

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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help dating this Kay Mandolin

    Post a picture of the back of the headstock. The tuners might give us a better chance of dating it.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Registered User nmiller's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help dating this Kay Mandolin

    It's definitely a post-War mandolin. That logo wasn't in use before the late '40s, at the earliest.
    www.OldFrets.com: the obscure side of vintage instruments.

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  19. #13

    Default Re: Help dating this Kay Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post
    Post a picture of the back of the headstock. The tuners might give us a better chance of dating it.
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  20. #14
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help dating this Kay Mandolin

    Those tuners were being used during and just after WWII. I seriously doubt they were still using them in the 50's. They might have been using old stock. By the 50's I would expect to see enclosed Kluson tuners.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    music with whales Jim Nollman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help dating this Kay Mandolin

    that's a beauty. Reminds me a lot of one I owned for ten years before I finally turned fancy in my choices of mandolins to own.

    If this one was mine, I wouldn't hesitate to take it to a luthier to get a proper setup, replace the worn out frets, possibly replace the tuners with Rubners, and maybe even radius the fingerboard.
    Explore some of my published music here

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    Full Grown and Cussin' brunello97's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help dating this Kay Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Mando View Post
    Wow! $39.00 strikes me as a lot of money for 1947....
    Using the BLS inflation calculator, $39.00 in 1947 translates into just under $450.00 today.

    Mick
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  26. #17

    Default Re: Help dating this Kay Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by brunello97 View Post
    Using the BLS inflation calculator, $39.00 in 1947 translates into just under $450.00 today.
    With all due respect, I already posted that two days earlier:

    Quote Originally Posted by JL277z View Post
    Equivalent to $449 in 2018, according to an Inflation Calculator. ..
    Great minds think alike?

  27. #18

    Default Re: Help dating this Kay Mandolin

    Those calculator's confuse me for some reason. They don't seem to take into account that back then, a dollar was a dollar, buying power-wise. Just like when JP Morgan was a millionaire, it meant something unheard of -- almost impossible to do. Nowadays, anybody with a good retirement account can retire a "millionaire" -- the money just doesn't have the buying power it once did.

    I'm old enough to remember when nickel candy bars "jumped" up to a dime and there was almost a national outrage. Like a "what's this world coming to?" sadness at the end of an era. Well, guess what? Once they go up they never go down, do they?

    I checked some of those charts, also. A new Ford in 1947 was $1400. An average house was $7000. Average wages were $2850 a year. Postage stamp was 3 cents. So................I guess a new Kay cost less than a week's wages. And, hey, it's a Kay, not a Gibson. So, OK.

  28. #19
    Full Grown and Cussin' brunello97's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help dating this Kay Mandolin

    "What this country needs is a good $100 Gibson mandolin!"

    Mick
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    Registered User Timbofood's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help dating this Kay Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by lowtone2 View Post
    Flowers might help.
    Well, it’s nice to see someone beat me to the smarty pants response!
    I was going to say dinner and a movie used to work for me but...
    Yes, I know, go to my corner!
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  31. #21

    Default Re: Help dating this Kay Mandolin

    Nice mandolin. Nice friend.
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  32. #22
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help dating this Kay Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Mando View Post
    Those calculator's confuse me for some reason. They don't seem to take into account that back then, a dollar was a dollar, buying power-wise. Just like when JP Morgan was a millionaire, it meant something unheard of -- almost impossible to do. Nowadays, anybody with a good retirement account can retire a "millionaire" -- the money just doesn't have the buying power it once did....I checked some of those charts, also. A new Ford in 1947 was $1400. An average house was $7000. Average wages were $2850 a year. Postage stamp was 3 cents. So................I guess a new Kay cost less than a week's wages. And, hey, it's a Kay, not a Gibson. So, OK.
    Isn't that the point of inflation calculators -- to show the increase in prices over the years, which you can also see as "the decline in the buying power of the dollar?" Sure, my father bought a big ol' farmhouse and five acres of land in rural western NY for $8K in 1948; he was making about $2500 per year in a "professional" job, so it was several years' worth of income. My first new car, 1972 Dodge Dart, was $2400, which was a big purchase for someone making $7500 a year.

    The inroads of inflation can only be understood if we balance off the increased cost with the increased income. Being a millionaire sure ain't what it used to be, but the balance between your "good retirement account" and what it can buy, may be about the same.

    As for "once they go up, they never come down," consider what I paid for a chromatic tuner 25 years ago, and what I'm paying now. Some things do actually get less expensive -- or, alternatively, you can get better quality for the same money (adjusted for inflation, of course).
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  34. #23

    Default Re: Help dating this Kay Mandolin

    Good points, Allen. Understanding those charts is above my "pay grade" which might be the actual root of the problem! And, as far as retirement goes, we are also living longer -- at least the lucky ones are!

    You made me think of those early Texas Instruments "pocket calculators" -- I think they were $150 back in the early 70's. Big money when minimum wage was $1.60 an hour. I was probably the last generation of school kids to be trained on the slide rule!

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  36. #24
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help dating this Kay Mandolin

    The first TI calculators were well over $2500.00. The price dropped drastically month by month. Within a few years they were giving calculators away for free.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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  38. #25

    Default Re: Help dating this Kay Mandolin

    I remember having to buy one of those TI calculators for math class. Over $150 IIRC.

    My math teacher challenged everybody to a duel - he put a formula on the board that the class came up with and it was us with our calculators against him with his slide rule. He had it solved before most of us got the first number entered.
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