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Thread: Vintage 12 string mandolin

  1. #1

    Default Vintage 12 string mandolin

    This was my grandfather's mandolin that looks like it was played quite a bit. I never got to meet him because he died the year before I was born in 1958. He was director in a couple Mummers String Band and also had his own band back in the 1940's and 50's. I took several pictures of this mandolin and the only identifying mark I could find was the number 5 stamped on the neck.
    My limited research so far tells me this is a 12 string instrument and possibly called a bowl back. There seems to be some nice inlays on it but quite a few of them are missing. In addition to trying to id it I was wondering if its repairable to play? I'm not looking at a full restoration, only wondering if the missing parts can be replaced to have it actually play again. I would never sell it and treasure it as a family heirloom.
    Thanks in advance for any info............Bob Ervin
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  2. #2

    Default Re: Vintage 12 string mandolin

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  3. #3

    Default Re: Vintage 12 string mandolin

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  4. #4

    Default Re: Vintage 12 string mandolin

    Just to put a little human factor in another help id me thread here is a picture of my grandfather in one of his Mummers String Band photos around 1930's early 40's. My brother may have gotten that instrument along with his banjo.
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  5. #5
    Full Grown and Cussin' brunello97's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vintage 12 string mandolin

    Looks like your Daddy has a Regal octophone in the photo, Bob. Great outfit, btw.
    The 12 string looks like an Oscar Schmidt, the NJ maker who put out a lot of these. My eyes have
    me seeing the ghosted imprint of the iconic OS scratch plate logo.
    Mick
    Ever tried, ever failed? No matter. Try again, fail again. Fail better.--Samuel Beckett
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  7. #6

    Default Re: Vintage 12 string mandolin

    Yeah, that's what I was thinking as well Mick, they were in Jersey City. Maybe early 1900's? I have all my GF's music books from that era, most of the music he and my grand mother composed themselves.

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  9. #7
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vintage 12 string mandolin

    It was an Oscar Schmidt. You can see the outline of the OS that was in the middle of the pick guard before it fell out. That would identify it as a Schmidt instrument. To just make it playable you'll need at least a bridge and perhaps a nut and strings. That is assuming the neck angle is right and there are no structural issues. A good luthier should be able to take care of giving it a once over and setting it up. If you want to bring it back to original cosmetically it's going to be very expensive.

    If you know the name of the association he was a Mummer in they might still be active.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mummers_Parade

    It would be a whole lot easier to march playing an octophone than a 12 string bowlback.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  10. #8

    Default Re: Vintage 12 string mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post
    It was an Oscar Schmidt. You can see the outline of the OS that was in the middle of the pick guard before it fell out. That would identify it as a Schmidt instrument. To just make it playable you'll need at least a bridge and perhaps a nut and strings. That is assuming the neck angle is right and there are no structural issues. A good luthier should be able to take care of giving it a once over and setting it up. If you want to bring it back to original cosmetically it's going to be very expensive.

    If you know the name of the association he was a Mummer in they might still be active.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mummers_Parade

    It would be a whole lot easier to march playing an octophone than a 12 string bowlback.
    Thanks for the reply Mike. I have no intention of doing a full restoration, just be fun to get it to play again. This was a well used/played instrument that seen better days.

    I do happen to know the names of the String Bands he played in, Bell (1942 first place) and also Woodland. He sounded like a pretty interesting guy that taught guitar, wrote music, had his own band and played with the Mummers.

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