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Thread: 1918 Gibson A 47968

  1. #1

    Default 1918 Gibson A 47968

    My good friend Dan Auterburn had this mandolin his whole life, when I went to see him yesterday he asked me to take it and play it. I’ve been playing it non stop. Plays extremely well, low action. This is a players mandolin for sure.

    Serial number appears to be faded but it looks like it says 47968. Put a mirror inside and couldn’t find a batch number.

    This mandolin has had quite a few modifications to keep it in playable shape.

    What can you folks tell me about it?
    Model?
    Year?
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    Jacob Hagerty, Hagerty Mandolins

    James Moodie #8
    Michael Fraser #5
    Jacob Hagerty #1,#2,#3
    1918 Gibson A1
    http://www.youtube.com/j87571

  2. #2
    two t's and one hyphen fatt-dad's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1918 Gibson A 47968

    Probably in the teens. Somebody will be a better guesser then me. I love it though! It's cool.

    Bummer about the tailpiece cover.

    Nice that it still has worm-under tuners. Seems they are much earlier replacements, by the naked screw holes. How they work?

    You'd likely do well getting a tailpiece cover. I just hate the turn-ups on my wrist when playing!

    I played mine with Thomastik Heavy strings for years and years. Just went back to EXP74cm on my paddle head. They're both great to me. I don't play bluegrass, so I play more melody lines and such.

    Thanks for posting!

    f-d
    ˇpapá gordo ain’t no madre flaca!

    '20 A3, '30 L-1, '97 914, 2012 Cohen A5, 2012 Muth A5, '14 OM28A

  3. #3

    Default Re: 1918 Gibson A 47968

    Looking at archive photos of similar years the tuners look original. I think the previous owner put some different tuners on at one point. Creating the hole you see. The tuners that are on here work well. I was given 2 tailpiece covers neither one original. He said he lost it at Winfield in the 70s
    Jacob Hagerty, Hagerty Mandolins

    James Moodie #8
    Michael Fraser #5
    Jacob Hagerty #1,#2,#3
    1918 Gibson A1
    http://www.youtube.com/j87571

  4. #4
    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1918 Gibson A 47968

    Bound on the top but not the back, so it's an A1, 1918 ship date according to Spann's Guide to Gibson.

    1-piece back is unusual. Natural color, rather than brown, indicates the back has been refinished. The "pumpkin" top finish might be original, but might also be a refinish, since 1918 was the year that Gibson switched to Sheraton brown for A1 tops. See if you can make out the instrument's factory order number (usually stamped inside on the neck block). If the FON indicates a 1917 build, that would suggest that the top finish is original. (It's not all that uncommon for a Gibson mandolin to be built one year and shipped the next.)

    Bridge looks like it could be original. Tailpiece cover missing. Pickguard missing. Tuners probably original. Small holes above each tuner strip suggest that someone attached a hanger to the headstock with two small nails. Fretboard with snowflake inlays is a replacement.
    Emando.com: More than you wanted to know about electric mandolins.

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

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  6. #5

    Default Re: 1918 Gibson A 47968

    How many numbers is the fon?
    Jacob Hagerty, Hagerty Mandolins

    James Moodie #8
    Michael Fraser #5
    Jacob Hagerty #1,#2,#3
    1918 Gibson A1
    http://www.youtube.com/j87571

  7. #6

    Default Re: 1918 Gibson A 47968

    Kinda looks like it says 168?
    Jacob Hagerty, Hagerty Mandolins

    James Moodie #8
    Michael Fraser #5
    Jacob Hagerty #1,#2,#3
    1918 Gibson A1
    http://www.youtube.com/j87571

  8. #7
    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1918 Gibson A 47968

    All 1917 and 1918 FONs published by Spann have 5 digits. 11168 would be a 1918 FON.

    My guess would be that the top is refinished, since the riser block is the wrong color. On an original pumpkin top mandolin, the riser block would be brown. Here it's orange. So to believe that the top is original, you'd have to believe that someone refinished just the riser block to match the rest of the top. Which seems less likely than someone refinishing the entire top including the riser block.
    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

  9. #8

    Default Re: 1918 Gibson A 47968

    Quote Originally Posted by mrmando View Post
    All 1917 and 1918 FONs published by Spann have 5 digits. 11168 would be a 1918 FON.

    My guess would be that the top is refinished, since the riser block is the wrong color. On an original pumpkin top mandolin, the riser block would be brown. Here it's orange. So to believe that the top is original, you'd have to believe that someone refinished just the riser block to match the rest of the top. Which seems less likely than someone refinishing the entire top including the riser block.
    I believe the whole thing has been refinished as well. Thanks for the info. It’s definitely not an original or museum piece but it sure does play nice and that action is amazingly low. If I would have to guess I’d say the bridge has probably been replaced as well.
    Jacob Hagerty, Hagerty Mandolins

    James Moodie #8
    Michael Fraser #5
    Jacob Hagerty #1,#2,#3
    1918 Gibson A1
    http://www.youtube.com/j87571

  10. #9
    Teacher, luthier
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    Default Re: 1918 Gibson A 47968

    Yes, as others have said, it is a Gibson A-1, 1918 serial number.

    The tuners, tailpiece base, and case are correct for the period. The fingerboard inlays are non-original. Would have to have the mandolin in hand to evaluate the originality of the fingerboard itself. The bridge appears to be a composite made from the upper half of an original bridge, reshaped and glued to a non original bridge base.

    The back has been stripped and refinished, and the "riser blocks" have been refinished. In-hand inspection would be necessary to evaluate the originality of the rest of the top finish. I do not see any obvious evidence that the top color [except for the risers] has been changed.

    It is possible that the mandolin may have had non-original tuners on it at one time.

  11. #10

    Default Re: 1918 Gibson A 47968

    It sure would be something I'd like to have.
    Silverangel A
    Michael Kelly LSFTB
    Arches F style kit
    1913 Gibson A-1

  12. #11
    Registered User Zigeuner's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1918 Gibson A 47968

    Quote Originally Posted by mrmando View Post
    All 1917 and 1918 FONs published by Spann have 5 digits. 11168 would be a 1918 FON.

    My guess would be that the top is refinished, since the riser block is the wrong color. On an original pumpkin top mandolin, the riser block would be brown. Here it's orange. So to believe that the top is original, you'd have to believe that someone refinished just the riser block to match the rest of the top. Which seems less likely than someone refinishing the entire top including the riser block.
    My 1917 A-3 Gibson has a FON of 11009. It's stamped in ink inside on the rear of the neck block. Serial No. is 38861 in pencil on the paper sticker inside. Mine appears to have a one-piece back since I can see no seam but I could be wrong.

    I inherited this mandolin from my uncle in 1982.
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    1917 Gibson A-3, '64 Martin A

  13. #12
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1918 Gibson A 47968

    Quote Originally Posted by Jacob Hagerty View Post
    I think the previous owner put some different tuners on at one point. Creating the hole you see. The tuners that are on here work well. I was given 2 tailpiece covers neither one original. He said he lost it at Winfield in the 70s
    Or they installed the tuners upside down. I'm wondering if that hole would line up with the tuners reversed. Post a picture of the tailpiece covers. If someone has the right base you might be able to use one of them.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  14. #13
    Still Picking and Sawing Jack Roberts's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1918 Gibson A 47968

    Except for the finish, it looks like a twin to mine, SN 42608. Mine is a little older than yours, and very beat up. Even though, the sound is great.

    I'm pretty sure the tuners are original and installed correctly, but somewhere along the line, someone tried something different. I'm not sure that the original tuners were installed upside down, because the distance from the center of the bottom tuner to the tuner hole is, although higher than the hole would be if installed correctly, it is not as high as the holes shown on yours. Those holes are too high for the tuners I have on mine no matter how they are installed. And my tuners look just like yours.

    After 100 years, it's hard to tell what has been done. If only mandolins could talk!

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    Last edited by Jack Roberts; Aug-03-2018 at 10:47am.
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    When time is broke and no proportion kept!
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