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Thread: Looking for information about a vintage mandolin!! Photos inside

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    Default Looking for information about a vintage mandolin!! Photos inside

    Hi all, I was helping my girlfriend clean out her grandmother's house, who just passed away, and we found a mandolin in a dusty case in the back of a closet. My girlfriend thinks this might have belonged to her great-grandmother. Here is an album of pictures of the instrument and the case: https://imgur.com/gallery/APTE7

    Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be any writing anywhere on the instrument (headstock, inside the f-holes...), so identifying it might prove very tricky. If it helps, the family is Greek!

    If anybody has an info or inkling of an idea about what this might be, anything would be appreciated!! Thanks!

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    Default Re: Looking for information about a vintage mandolin!! Photos ins

    It looks like a Strad-O-Lin to me

    Picture from OP's link above
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    Brentrup Evangelist Larry S Sherman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Looking for information about a vintage mandolin!! Photos ins

    I was going to guess Silvertone

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    Default Re: Looking for information about a vintage mandolin!! Photos ins

    Quote Originally Posted by Larry S Sherman View Post
    I was going to guess Silvertone
    Could be. I think they were made in the same factory with the Silvertone being sold by Sears.

    If you shine a light into the F holes, you might see a date stamp or some other marking inside.
    Let us know if you do, what it says

    Something like this:
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Looking for information about a vintage mandolin!! Photos ins

    Look inside the f holes with a flashlight. Any faint numbers?

    It's not a Strad-O-Lin genre mandolin. It was produced in Chicago, probably by Kay in the 1940's. I can date it because those tuners without the screws holding the cog on were used circa WWII. I'm a little torn about the manufacturer, it could have been Harmony or Regal as well but I'm going with Kay. The body shape is more Kay like and the headstock shape was used by all three. All three made instruments with no brand name on them "for the trade" so that teachers, music schools, and other retailers and distributors could sell them as their own. This one was fairly nice with the bound fretboard and the tuner bushings but it's still an inexpensive mandolin. It looks like it's in decent shape.

    There was also a company in Canada that sold what I believe were unbranded American made mandolins as their own. They tended to dress them up a little. It would also fit what they did.
    "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: Looking for information about a vintage mandolin!! Photos ins

    Those F-holes identify it as a mid '30s Regal. They changed to a less old-fashioned shape around 1936.
    www.OldFrets.com: the obscure side of vintage instruments.

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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Looking for information about a vintage mandolin!! Photos ins

    Quote Originally Posted by nmiller View Post
    Those F-holes identify it as a mid '30s Regal. They changed to a less old-fashioned shape around 1936.
    Actually those f holes were used by all three major manufacturers I mentioned and whomever built the Strad-O-Lins.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

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    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Looking for information about a vintage mandolin!! Photos ins

    It also looks like Regal's segmented f holes were mostly of this design with a round hole, not a tear drop shaped hole. They may have used both, I just can't lay my hands ona picture right now of a known Regal with any other type segmented hole.

    Just found a Regal in Bob Carlin's book (page 89) with the tear drop (comma shaped, whatever) segmented holes so they used the same segmented holes as well.
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    "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: Looking for information about a vintage mandolin!! Photos ins

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post
    Actually those f holes were used by all three major manufacturers I mentioned and whomever built the Strad-O-Lins.
    Nobody else had quite the same shape. Those two are noticeably different.

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post
    It also looks like Regal's segmented f holes were mostly of this design with a round hole, not a tear drop shaped hole. They may have used both, I just can't lay my hands ona picture right now of a known Regal with any other type segmented hole.
    Regal used this shape only briefly, so there aren't a ton of examples out there, but check out this one:

    Click image for larger version. 

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    www.OldFrets.com: the obscure side of vintage instruments.

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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Looking for information about a vintage mandolin!! Photos ins

    Actually they are very similar. To be honest other than the tuners which place it straight in the WWII time frame I couldn't date anything by the f holes, not even the manufacturer. I'm always interested in seeing documentation though. Have you got a print source?

    Keep in mind that all of the major Chicago builders fed from the same trough. They bought from the same jobbers, the same guys did machining for all three, the labor pool moved around between the companies. Other than Harmony using those god-awful Grover tuners in the 60's into the 70's you'll find a mixture between them all. That body shape is more Kay than anything else.

    I'm also of the impression although I have no actual facts to back it up that they sold bodies and necks to each other. Too much stuff seems to move between them.
    "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: Looking for information about a vintage mandolin!! Photos ins

    It's not like they all used the same bodies. Regal, Harmony and Kay archtop mandolins can all be identified by the body shape and f-hole shapes, which are all quite different. They shared the same hardware suppliers (tuners, tailpieces, etc.) but did not swap bodies or necks. They made their instruments in separate factories, used separate jigs and side molds. If you put them side by side, it's pretty easy to tell them apart either in catalog pictures or from real-life pics.
    www.OldFrets.com: the obscure side of vintage instruments.

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