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Thread: Fern Loar F5 Attic Find

  1. #76
    Registered User William Smith's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fern Loar F5 Attic Find

    Thanks for sharing that story! We all go through hardships "some more so" So another Loar busted in a box-there is a song in there folks!

  2. #77

    Default Re: Fern Loar F5 Attic Find

    Worth with his mandolin and Jerry
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  4. #78

    Default Re: Fern Loar F5 Attic Find

    Worth and Grant around 1973. This was a rare visit we had with him, I'm about 13 in this photo. The last time I saw him was 1983. I was only 2 when Worth played with the Drifters. I now recall the last era when he was still at home with us, he got my sister and I to sing with him when he played, like in a "round" type song, and others. "Salty Dog" was one of them.
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  5. #79
    Registered User Hendrik Ahrend's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fern Loar F5 Attic Find

    Quote Originally Posted by rstytnsp View Post
    Worth with his mandolin and Jerry
    Grant IMHO the mandolin pictured is an early '30s (non-Loar) F5 rather than the attic find. Worth's other F5?

  6. #80

    Default Re: Fern Loar F5 Attic Find

    Here's pics of our recent visit to Guitar Showcase in SJ. I live about 300 miles away, so I picked up my sister Margaret on the way. Gary Wineroth was very nice, and let us spend some time pondering this, and to play it a little. We felt like some kind of loop had been completed, yet this experience now raises new questions. We recognize this moment/window in time has a finite nature to it, and so IF we were to try to act on this,
    we don't have forever to think about it. Part of me wants my dad's old mandolin to "come home". But, this is more a purely emotional response to the present circumstances. Once I get "rational" again, I feel rather frozen and perplexed if I'm honest with myself. The fact still remains, that our father basically ditched us, and made no effort or gesture to see this F5 go to us.
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  8. #81

    Default Re: Fern Loar F5 Attic Find

    Hendrik, all the picture really shows is that it's a Fern F5, and not a flower pot type. It's true that there are "unsigned Loar" Fern F5's from 1925, and a few more later as you suggest. So this photo doesn't "prove" much. It's all the other evidence surrounding this "discovery", and the relative rarity of Ferns in general that leads myself and others including Frank Ford at Gryphon to feel fairly convinced that this was Worth's. Frank knew Worth and years ago saw this piece with him. Up until 1967 or so, my father had a graphics business with his office on California st. in south Palo Alto, about 2 blocks from Gryphon. The mystery of the "other" one I don't have much to say about other than it "was" in a box partly disassembled in 1966.

    Honestly, if this know-it-all crowd of experts can convince me that that the flea market F5 is NOT my lost father's, it would be a relief.
    I wouldn't then have to worry about what to do or not, seriously.

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  10. #82
    Registered User testore's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fern Loar F5 Attic Find

    I’m not sure how anyone can say that the pic with Garcia is a 30’s mandolin. All we can see for sure is that it’s a fern.
    vesselmandolins.blogspot.com

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  12. #83
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    Default Re: Fern Loar F5 Attic Find

    I just spoke with my friend Brooks Otis who played banjo with the Hart Valley Drifters and remembers Worth Handley from those days. He recalls that Worth was given the Gibson F5 from a neighbor for which he did yard work/etc for...everyone in the musical circle recognized it as a particularly nice and special instrument.

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  13. #84
    NY Naturalist BradKlein's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fern Loar F5 Attic Find

    Quote Originally Posted by rstytnsp View Post
    Greetings, my name is Grant Handley...
    Grant, Thanks for sharing your story, and in such a sensitive and articulate way. I won't try and tell you how to feel about it, and I suspect that you know full well that you're not alone - even in the endless variations of the parent/child story. Wishing you peace and all the best.
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    Adrian Minarovic
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    Default Re: Fern Loar F5 Attic Find

    The mandolin in the pics is clearly not the same as the "attic Fern". Look at the tuners the mandolin has tuners farther apart at the top of headstock and the holes appear to be drilled right through the inlays (or very very close). Gibson did that from time to time...
    Adrian

  15. #86
    Registered User William Smith's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fern Loar F5 Attic Find

    Quote Originally Posted by HoGo View Post
    The mandolin in the pics is clearly not the same as the "attic Fern". Look at the tuners the mandolin has tuners farther apart at the top of headstock and the holes appear to be drilled right through the inlays (or very very close). Gibson did that from time to time...
    I noticed that myself before Henry "Henrik" mentioned it! But didn't want to ruffle feathers. That one is more than likely a late 1929-early 30's F-5, you can see the post through the fern leaves as by then Gibson was using those bump end worm over gear tuners instead of the Loar style tuners. Still all GREAT mandolins!

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  17. #87

    Default Re: Fern Loar F5 Attic Find

    Now that I've looked into the difference in the inlay placement of 1924 Ferns and later 1929 Ferns, I have to agree that the photo seems to show the later placement.
    The only other thing to consider is that this may have been a flash photo, and that can lead to "blurring" of lighter to darker types of contrasts, thus being a little less clear than ideal. So perhaps this is a false alarm, my apologies if so. Or maybe the photo is of his "other one" before it was disassembled? My memory of 53 years ago
    must be compromised for understandable reasons, yet I distinctly remember Worth telling/bragging to me as a boy that he had "Loars". Frank Ford remembers this too.

    The for sures are: Worth lived in the underworld of San Jose from 1967-ish until now or his death (he would be 87 if alive). He had his mandolins in a storage locker in San Jose. At numerous times he was on the verge of loosing the locker. He had more than one mandolin, 2 in 1966 I saw them both then.

    The question remains, what 2 mandolins? From another source I learned that he somehow picked up at least one more "old gibson" mandolin that was taken to Lundberg in Berkeley in 1993, 10 years after the last time I saw him, to be sold. He was offered $7-8K for it then, and was told it needed some binding repaired and a refret, he refused the offer and went back to SJ.

    It's tough when one of the sudo clues in this process has been probability itself. What are the odds of there being 2 Ferns of any date coming out of SJ?
    Especially when the usual destiny of storage locker auctions is the local flea market, so this part seems to "line up". The time capsule nature of the piece in SJ also lines up with it's being in storage for 50 years. At this point, even with "some" compelling tidbits, I don't feel certain now, and I'm not sure how I ever could feel certain short of some yet unfound photo or other absolute proof. The obvious deduction from this is that the one in the photo is still at large, and that the one at Guitar Showcase is "some other one" that still "could" have been one of his 2 primary mandolins. He may have held back his favorite one in situations that included risk, such as playing out with it. I would.

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  19. #88
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    Default Re: Fern Loar F5 Attic Find

    Every year or so a newly discovered Loar or post Loar Fern or even a late 30's-early 40's Gibson F-5 comes back to the light and for us geeks its very exciting! Prices seem down right now as compared to say 2008 when most all original Loars were about 250K "I know some people bought then and well took a bath as they can't get that now" Even this great San Jose Loar at 165 is stretching it quite a bit, it would sell if it was 100-120 and that's just my personal opinion on what I know they can go for privately "I actually was looking at this one before I found mine!"

    So we know he had another late 20's early 30's Fern at some point besides the Fern Loar-interesting!

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  21. #89

    Default Re: Fern Loar F5 Attic Find

    A couple things caught my "ears" as the story unravels....

    The busted Loar in a box lends a fantastic quality to the story, but keep in mind an average guy in 1962 could own a Loar, maybe even two. There was no established "vintage guitar market" like we have today. The first I ever heard of there being an appreciation for older instruments (vs new instruments) was by bluegrass players -- specifically that an old herringbone Martin sounded better than the then current ones made in the 60's. Gruhn has noted a similar experience trading guitars while in graduate school in the early 60's, before opening his shop. Monroe being the other well-known example of someone who recognized Loars were a cut above the current Gibson offerings. Earl Scruggs, as well with the Granada flathead banjo. As far as the probability of two Loars in one town, I agree. In an age before the internet and mail order, instruments basically stayed in their "own" hometowns, for the most part. The exception would be instruments bought by people who traveled as part of their job, such as Monroe. There were musicians, like your father, who were aware of Loars and able to seek them out. It was more about knowledge and sound than money. It is difficult for us to imagine with today's prices, a more simple era.

    The other thing that came to mind was what about the old pictures showing Robert Hunter, Ken Frankel, and Scott Hambly all playing old F-style Gibson mandolins, Loars, we assume. My question is was it the same mandolin being passed around? Or, did they all own old Loars? That is, players associated with pre-fame Garcia.

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  23. #90

    Default Re: Fern Loar F5 Attic Find

    Worth told me he bought his favorite F5 (I assume it was a Loar) from a lady in SJ for $75 in the early 1950's when he attended SJ State. That was cheap even then, but it's clearly Not the one he's playing in the photo w/Garcia. I believe the others who played mandolin had their own instruments, and they were not F5's. It's true that in the early 1960's there was no established "vintage market", and it was just a matter of classified adds in newspapers or other word of mouth transactions. My father was a talented scrounger who just had a way of coming up with stuff, so considering that, and the era, it's not unimaginable that he had rounded up at least 2 F5's, with at least one being a Loar. I want to apologize again for the false alarm here, it took just a couple days for me to get up to speed on this topic, and to see that one photo associating Worth with a Fern, is not the Fern at Guitar Showcase. I still feel it's quite possible that the SJ Fern was his though, it's just a weaker case now. Worth was also a kite builder among numerous things, and we used to go fly his creations on windy days when we were kids. He made his own custom reels and used a special string specifically for kite flying. In the case of the flea market Loar, we found packages of mandolin strings bound together with "that" kite string. That tiny clue and the appearance of the fading of the green case interior (which I "seem" to remember) is all I have of anything tangible. The rest is what he said or told me, and the fact that he did store his mandolins in a storage locker in SJ, basically unplayed since the mid 1960's. Add in his age, location and dubious life style and we get a high likelihood of his instruments being "lost" into the abyss, in SJ. I just heard from another dealer in the bay area that he had a post Loar Fern on consignment recently, and that it didn't sell and the consigner took it back. It had a smaller form fitting case, not the bigger rectangular one. Another possibility is that the Fern he had in the photo in 1962 is the one I saw disassembled in a box in 1966. At that same time he had a running F5, in a case with a green interior....At this point I feel rather perplexed, luckily I don't have any innate lust to own a Loar F5, the only exception would be if it was clear that one of Worth's was available to me. Proving this definitively is what I'd need to move forward, and I just don't have "enough", most likely, never will. It's all been interesting though (a little upsetting too) and I want to thank the experts for their help in sorting this out.

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  25. #91

    Default Re: Fern Loar F5 Attic Find

    I think all in all there is some great detective work and clues revealed. Especially, the kite string. Again, what are the odds? But, is it proof? That is the question, IMHO.

    Working at a vintage guitar store in a large city and also going to pawn shops and flea markets on a regular basis -- I would see the same exact guitar being traded from store to store, owner to owner, flea market to flea market, over the years -- not really that odd, musicians are usually part of a fairly small community, regardless of the size of the town. Also, I went to at least one guitar show a month somewhere in the country and again, would see the same guitars float from dealer to dealer. And, those were pre-internet days. Today, of course, even more so, I would think. People who are into instruments, remember instruments -- that is what we do. But, usually the guys who ran the guitar shops knew who owned what in their community, especially if you are talking something as rare as a Loar.

    Unfortunately, that doesn't get you any closer, but in the age of social media another clue could be right around the corner. I'm not a facebook person, but my friend is and he is always in contact with people from high school 55 years ago that he hasn't spoke to in 55 years -- so anything is possible and someone might know something about your father's instruments from a source as unlikely as facebook, for example.

    I just read a story on Reverb where John Lennon's Gibson J-160E, which was stolen from Abbey Road in the 60's was just found in California and auctioned off for something like $2.4 or 2.6 million dollars -- the point is not the money, but that these things can be traced by serial numbers, receipts, shipping orders, photos, and in the case of John Lennon's guitar -- the grain of the wood was used like a fingerprint to confirm the identity by a Beatle expert. So, there is hope, IMHO.

    I'm sure the good feelings garnered by people like Frank Ford who knew your father must at least give you some insight, if not hope, exactly.

    Fascinating story. Good luck.

  26. #92
    Registered User f5loar's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fern Loar F5 Attic Find

    for sure the Garcia photo Fern is not a Loar Fern. The inlay's position puts it in late 20's to early 30's. I'd say it's likely that one is out there and who has it don't know this previous owner. There's not that many with that type inlay position.

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  28. #93
    Registered User William Smith's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fern Loar F5 Attic Find

    Quote Originally Posted by f5loar View Post
    for sure the Garcia photo Fern is not a Loar Fern. The inlay's position puts it in late 20's to early 30's. I'd say it's likely that one is out there and who has it don't know this previous owner. There's not that many with that type inlay position.
    Right on, I remember this Fern and it was a 29 by the looks and #'s, I think its in the archives but no PIX yet? I'm hopefully remembering correctly but the leaves were drilled through the Fern outer leaves like my 34ish, and was also around out that way "California" two years or so as I was looking into it from the shop it was at, as it was on consignment we couldn't come to an arrangement and I decided to shy away. As far as I know its still out there so the dealer may be able to help the family members-I was told it went back to owner!

  29. #94

    Default Re: Fern Loar F5 Attic Find

    Not to change the subject, but I just realized how much Garcia looks like a young Col Sanders with the goatee and the bow tie!

  30. #95
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    Default Re: Fern Loar F5 Attic Find

    Quote Originally Posted by f5loar View Post
    for sure the Garcia photo Fern is not a Loar Fern. The inlay's position puts it in late 20's to early 30's. I'd say it's likely that one is out there and who has it don't know this previous owner. There's not that many with that type inlay position.
    In the early 2000’s, there was a fern listed on EBay as a ‘29 that looked like that. It was listed by a pawn shop with a Buy It Now price of 15,000. One of this forum’s “former” members scooped it up. Later, it was lost in shipment to get a refret. I’m pretty sure it was eventually recovered.
    Does anyone else remember that one?

  31. #96
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    Default Re: Fern Loar F5 Attic Find

    Quote Originally Posted by f5loar View Post
    for sure the Garcia photo Fern is not a Loar Fern. The inlay's position puts it in late 20's to early 30's. I'd say it's likely that one is out there and who has it don't know this previous owner. There's not that many with that type inlay position.
    Cropped photo from above vs. photo from Mandolin Archive

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    I think is is possibly this one.

    #87346

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  33. #97

    Default Re: Fern Loar F5 Attic Find

    This is the '29 Fern that was consigned in Oakland recently : https://reverb.com/item/14365635-gib...-1929-sunburst

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  35. #98

    Default Re: Fern Loar F5 Attic Find

    BTW, this (my fathers's demise and/or his mandolin's fate) all started because I was looking for cool old precision bass to play again. It was just a couple weeks ago while searching on Reverb, that a side bar add popped up, that was the flea marker Loar in SJ. That's what started this. Years ago, I had a '59 blonde (ash) slab board gold guard p-bass, that I never should have sold. That would be a tall order now. So what's in your closet? Who's got a bass for me? I got tested recently, and there are small traces of Jerry sparkle dust in me that must have landed on Worth and then rubbed off on me, 57 years ago.... thanks in advance.

  36. #99
    Registered User William Smith's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fern Loar F5 Attic Find

    Quote Originally Posted by rstytnsp View Post
    This is the '29 Fern that was consigned in Oakland recently : https://reverb.com/item/14365635-gib...-1929-sunburst
    This is the 1929 Fern I was talking about I looked into!

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