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Thread: Help identifying vintage bowl back.

  1. #1

    Default Help identifying vintage bowl back.

    Hello all. I picked this mandolin up via eBay over a decade ago and it's been sitting waiting for me to do some research and restoration. The person I purchased it from said that it was from Italy and made around 1880-1890. I would love to find out the specifics about the instrument and what restoration options I should consider. Thanks!

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  2. #2
    Registered User nmiller's Avatar
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    Jun 2010
    Rocky Hill, CT

    Default Re: Help identifying vintage bowl back.

    No idea about the maker, but I could believe that date based on the tuners. the obscure side of vintage instruments.

  3. #3
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    40.191N -74.2W

    Default Re: Help identifying vintage bowl back.

    If you can do the restoration yourself it might be financially viable. If you're going to pay someone to do it it's going to cost you much more than it's worth.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  4. #4
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Mar 2003
    Westchester, NY

    Default Re: Help identifying vintage bowl back.

    I agree with those who posted above. Likely it is Italian and from around that time period, basically around the turn of the last century. It is in terrible condition but if it were a decent instrument of a higher grade b a known maker, it might be worth fixing. As it is, it looks like a budget model to me. That border of scrap pearl parts inlaid into mastic plus a fretboard of probably stained pearwood indicates that. As Mike says, if you fix it yourself and just want something to fool around with it would be fine. But it will need lots of work to get it playable.

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  6. #5
    Confused... or?
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    Dec 2008
    Over the Hudson & thru the woods from NYC

    Default Re: Help identifying vintage bowl back.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    ... looks like a budget model to me.
    Also evidenced by the (probably) 9 or 11 "barrel staves" of the bowl, as opposed to 35 or so on the highest quality ones.

    Looks like it suffered severe moisture, maybe even flooding.
    - Ed

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  7. #6
    Registered User
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    Sep 2002

    Default Re: Help identifying vintage bowl back.

    Time and money spent on resurrection could far better be spent on finding an instrument that is playable.

    On the plus side, it can help keep you warm this winter . . . for a half hour or so.

  8. #7

    Default Re: Help identifying vintage bowl back.

    I'd put that one on the wall, looks better than something you'd buy from Pier 1 or whatever.

  9. #8
    Full Grown and Cussin' brunello97's Avatar
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    Dec 2005
    Ann Arbor/Austin

    Default Re: Help identifying vintage bowl back.

    I think it all boils down to the condition of the neck. If it isn't badly rotated out of position you could get it playable with some rather straightforward woodwork repairs: some yellow glue, tape and patient work.

    If the neck is okay. Neck repairs on old Italian bowlbacks are a chore.

    Cosmetic "restoration"? That's a whole other thing in terms of time.
    Would it be "worth it"? As Mike says, if you do it yourself, why not?

    Not a lot of inherent value as something to sell or trade but if you've got the dinero you'll find someone with a Camaro to prettify it all up for you.

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  10. #9

    Default Re: Help identifying vintage bowl back.

    Thanks guys. It's been hung on my wall since I acquired it, and always get lots of questions when people see it. I would still love to determine the maker, and from there possibly a more specific date of build. She's got a story to tell, the cost of "resurrection" (lol) would be minimal for me. I have a good friend who restores guitars and offered to make it playable for his cost in materials.

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