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Thread: In need of help identifying recent library donation.

  1. #26
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: In need of help identifying recent library donation.

    Quote Originally Posted by rcc56 View Post
    No, I'm not at all sure it is a piccolo, I was just wondering because of the proportions. The head looks large in relation to the body. This could also be an optical illusion created by camera angle or lens. That's why I asked for a measurement.

    The piccolo that Jim shows in his picture is smaller than the few others I have seen.
    rcc56 [hey, do you have an actual name? your posts are always knowledgeable, just checking ] Sorry about that, you are quite correct that that little bowlback of mine has a very short scale. Here, for comparison is my Vega style 3 next to a Leland (L&H) piccolo (I have the standard Leland one also) and that piccolino(?) bowlback. Scale length for the Leland is 10-1/4" and the piccolino is 9.5".

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    Jim

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  3. #27
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: In need of help identifying recent library donation.

    Quote Originally Posted by rcc56 View Post
    It is indeed a regular mandolin. My guess is that it was made circa 1910 by the Lyon and Healy Company in Chicago.
    This might verify what rcc56 says and at least get close to the date of appearance of a somewhat similar one in the L&H catalog. This scan is from my 1912 L&H catalog. The center one pictured is close in specs and looks to the OP's. Not exactly but then again L&H may have made these for sale to retail music stores. In 1912 the Lyon & Healy line was a budget line in the catalog. By the end of that decade the L&H brand was one of the upper ones and took the place next to Washburn as the top of the line.

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    Jim

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    19th Century Tunes - Old Sheet Music for mandolin

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  5. #28
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    Default Re: In need of help identifying recent library donation.

    My guess on the origin of the instrument is based upon instinct and process of elimination. I do not know bowl-backs well.

    We do know that the majority of bowl-backs we see in the US were made in the US. The largest manufacturers were Lyon & Healy, Vega, Martin, and Oscar Schmidt. This one was clearly not made by Martin, and does not remind me of Vega workmanship. For the record, I do not see any Larson characteristics, and the off-center inlays are not something I would expect to see from the Larson shop.

    The work reminds me more of Chicago than New York/ New Jersey [where Oscar Schmidt was located], and Lyon & Healy was by far the largest manufacturer of fretted instruments at the beginning of the 20th century. So I'll go with L & H.

    If there are any experts on bowl-backs on the forum who can identify this instrument with a high level of certainty, I would welcome their comments, especially about details and characteristics that aided their identification.

    Bob Chuckrow

  6. #29
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: In need of help identifying recent library donation.

    Quote Originally Posted by rcc56 View Post
    My guess on the origin of the instrument is based upon instinct and process of elimination. I do not know bowl-backs well.

    We do know that the majority of bowl-backs we see in the US were made in the US. The largest manufacturers were Lyon & Healy, Vega, Martin, and Oscar Schmidt. This one was clearly not made by Martin, and does not remind me of Vega workmanship. For the record, I do not see any Larson characteristics, and the off-center inlays are not something I would expect to see from the Larson shop.

    The work reminds me more of Chicago than New York/ New Jersey [where Oscar Schmidt was located], and Lyon & Healy was by far the largest manufacturer of fretted instruments at the beginning of the 20th century. So I'll go with L & H.

    If there are any experts on bowl-backs on the forum who can identify this instrument with a high level of certainty, I would welcome their comments, especially about details and characteristics that aided their identification.

    Bob Chuckrow
    Nice to know your name, Bob! Yes, we all work the same way, process of elimination. I have a moderate collection of original and photocopies of catalogs plus I collect jpegs of lots of vintage instruments. A few years back (decade or so) I decided to dive into and learn as much as I can about bowlbacks to see esp which were the quality and which the dross. That included Italian and other European makers as well. It is a deep well but I have learned something I think.

    As for lower end instruments like the OP's I doubt there is anyone who can ID with any degree of certainlty but we can make an educated guess.
    Jim

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  8. #30
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    Default Re: In need of help identifying recent library donation.

    A few things that complicate the identification of instruments of this age are the lack of surviving catalogs, the lack of catalog pages available for viewing on the web, and the fact that some of the manufacturers [especially L & H] changed their models and specs more often than some people change their strings. And we can add to that the crude quality of old catalog illustrations.

    An on-line database of string instrument catalogs would be a great thing.

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  10. #31
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: In need of help identifying recent library donation.

    Another thing that complicates is that often the catalogs are not accurate, that some items never appear in them or appear with completely different features, woods, ornamentation, etc. In addition many of the larger companies made instruments for each other and to be sold in wholesale lots for retail shops to put their own labels on. For instance, how many of the reverse scroll Regals are out there—some with Regal logos, others with a multitude of others logos and some with no label or logo at all. Same with Strad-O-Lin clones and those oddball Blue Comet mandolins. Hey, that is what makes all this detective work fun.

    OTOH compare our work with determining violin attributions. Even crazier.

    BTW some time ago, when eBay allowed you to see who you were bidding against, I got outbid on instrument catalog by one bidder. I contacted him and it turned out to be the librarian of NAMM. They have a bi collection of catalogs and I asked them if I could get some pages relating to mandolins. That is what they are there for, so they might make those available online at some time.

    Another source is Acoustic Music (in Guilford, CT). They have a bunch of catalogs online and other useful instrument history resources..
    Jim

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    19th Century Tunes - Old Sheet Music for mandolin

    Playing lately:
    1923 Gibson A2 black snakehead -- Brentrup A4C -- 1915 Frank Merwin Ashley violin -- Huss & Dalton DS -- 1937 Gibson L-Century -- 1939 Gibson L-00 -- ca. 1890s Fairbanks Senator Banjo -- ca. 1923 Vega Style M tenor banjo -- Gibson TB-Junior -- National RM-1

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  12. #32
    Registered User Bob Clark's Avatar
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    Default Re: In need of help identifying recent library donation.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    Another source is Acoustic Music (in Guilford, CT). They have a bunch of catalogs online and other useful instrument history resources..
    Wow, Jim, this is a pretty amazing resource. Thanks for posting these links.

    Bob
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