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Thread: 1920's Mandolin orchestra with Gibson snakehead+Paddlehead copies

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    Registered User mandotool's Avatar
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    Default 1920's Mandolin orchestra with Gibson snakehead+Paddlehead copies

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    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1920's Mandolin orchestra with Gibson snakehead+Paddlehead co

    Nice of them to allow the 2 guys on the middle row to have bowlbacks...one might be a mandola?

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    Default Re: 1920's Mandolin orchestra with Gibson snakehead+Paddlehead co

    I wonder how many of those instruments are still around. I’m sure none of the people are.

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    Default Re: 1920's Mandolin orchestra with Gibson snakehead+Paddlehead co

    Is that a snake head piccolo or what do you call them?

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    Default Re: 1920's Mandolin orchestra with Gibson snakehead+Paddlehead co

    Quote Originally Posted by DavidKOS View Post
    Nice of them to allow the 2 guys on the middle row to have bowlbacks...one might be a mandola?
    I think they were just "seat fillers", David.

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    Default Re: 1920's Mandolin orchestra with Gibson snakehead+Paddlehead co

    Quote Originally Posted by brunello97 View Post
    I think they were just "seat fillers", David.

    Mick
    Being a seat filler... I resemble that remark!
    Merry Christmas Mick!
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    Registered User mandotool's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1920's Mandolin orchestra with Gibson snakehead+Paddlehead co

    This photo/postcard is dated 1926 and was sent from Latvia ..but no certainty when the photo was actually taken..
    Any chance these Snakeheads pre-date Gibson's in 1922 ?
    and very impressive that the entire Gibson mandolin line was reproduced ...
    Love the Piccolo

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    Registered User bluegrasser78's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1920's Mandolin orchestra with Gibson snakehead+Paddlehead co

    Quote Originally Posted by mandotool View Post
    This photo/postcard is dated 1926 and was sent from Latvia ..but no certainty when the photo was actually taken..
    Any chance these Snakeheads pre-date Gibson's in 1922 ?
    and very impressive that the entire Gibson mandolin line was reproduced ...
    Love the Piccolo
    So is that an unknown Gibson Piccolo? I wasn't aware Gibson made those but anything is possible with them back pre-war!

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1920's Mandolin orchestra with Gibson snakehead+Paddlehead co

    mandotool: what was written (if anything) on the back of this postcard? Was it a photo postcard, not printed by a company? Do all these carved top instruments look like Gibsons? For some reason some of the snakehead headstocks look wrongly proportioned. I am not so sure about the mandocello—it looks larger than a Gibson and the mandobasses are obviously not Gibsons.

    BTW there is a thread we started years ago with lot so similar old photos. Antique Photo of a Mandolin of the Day.
    Jim

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    Default Re: 1920's Mandolin orchestra with Gibson snakehead+Paddlehead co

    They do not all look like Gibson’s, soundholes in some are too round not the more conventional oval shape of the factory at that time. Some might be but, I’m pretty sure the bulk are not, very cool picture though.
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    Default Re: 1920's Mandolin orchestra with Gibson snakehead+Paddlehead co

    Yes I love looking at any of these old mandolin orchestra pix! Way neat, the instruments used, the cloths, the era! Its just the whole package from a time in history that would've been IT if you were a musician.

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    Default Re: 1920's Mandolin orchestra with Gibson snakehead+Paddlehead co

    Quote Originally Posted by bluegrasser78 View Post
    Yes I love looking at any of these old mandolin orchestra pix! Way neat, the instruments used, the cloths, the era! Its just the whole package from a time in history that would've been IT if you were a musician.
    Then attend a modern CMSA convention - mandolin orchestras are still around.

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    Default Re: 1920's Mandolin orchestra with Gibson snakehead+Paddlehead co

    Oh I know they're still around David its just the old history particulars I love, the eras, all the old instruments. Its just from a different time and place, simpler but yet harder life compared to our run, run fast crazy paced life!

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    Full Grown and Cussin' brunello97's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1920's Mandolin orchestra with Gibson snakehead+Paddlehead co

    Quote Originally Posted by DavidKOS View Post
    Then attend a modern CMSA convention - mandolin orchestras are still around.
    Note the drummer. Not your most common site in these old mandorch photos.

    And the turban.

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    Default Re: 1920's Mandolin orchestra with Gibson snakehead+Paddlehead co

    Quote Originally Posted by brunello97 View Post
    Note the drummer. Not your most common site in these old mandorch photos.

    And the turban.

    Mick
    I would guess that this might be a Latvian or at least European group. Not sure why one guy was wearing a turban but he might be the orchestra clown.
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    Default Re: 1920's Mandolin orchestra with Gibson snakehead+Paddlehead co

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    I would guess that this might be a Latvian or at least European group. Not sure why one guy was wearing a turban but he might be the orchestra clown.
    I worked with a Latvian architect years ago on a project in Central Texas. Or maybe he was Estonian. Can't remember exactly. He didn't wear a turban to work, but would have rocked it if he did. His name was Eff or Ezz or something like that. Huge guy. Affable.

    Still fascinated by that Garter-Snake-head piccolo ("mazs" in Latvian, apparently) mando.

    Kim Wilson from the Fabulous T-Birds used to sport a turban around town. Saw him once in the old (original) Whole Foods on Lamar in the produce section just so lidded. But if you even thought of the word "clown" around him you'd get a fist in the schnoz in a NY minute.

    I would have thought the bowlback guys were the orķestra klouni.

    Mick
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    Mandolin tragic Graham McDonald's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1920's Mandolin orchestra with Gibson snakehead+Paddlehead co

    The interesting question is who made them, as most of them look as if they may well have come from the same source? If dated a few years later I might suspect the Schonbach region in Western Czechoslovakia who made a lot of carved Gibsonesque mandolins in the 30s, but I have never been able to establish when they started to make carved mandolins.

    Cheers

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    Registered User mandotool's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1920's Mandolin orchestra with Gibson snakehead+Paddlehead co

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    Default Re: 1920's Mandolin orchestra with Gibson snakehead+Paddlehead co

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    Thomas Quinn

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    Default Re: 1920's Mandolin orchestra with Gibson snakehead+Paddlehead co

    I speak a bit of Latvian. The back of card says: Ligo (Summer solstice) celebrations 23. 6.1926. Ziemelblazma (Northern Lights - it is a place in Riga) Mandolin Orchestra of Janis Melnalksnis.

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    Photo from "Kristall" German record label catalogue - There are 10 records listed in the catalogue by that orchestra. Chances they can be found and heard. There are many old records enthusiasts around.

    In 1937 there are mentionings of Janis Melnalksnis Jazz Orchestra in Riga's papers, so the mandolin orchestra evolved into a Jazz version, by that time, by the look of it. Or Janis went his own way perhaps.

    I have posted the questions about this orchestra at the Russian-speaking Riga forum. There are some real enthusiasts that know a lot about Riga's history. Hope we'll get more info on these guys.
    Last edited by vic-victor; Dec-09-2018 at 6:37am.

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  32. #21
    Registered User mandotool's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1920's Mandolin orchestra with Gibson snakehead+Paddlehead co

    Thank you Vic-Victor for the translation and your research..
    My resources have turned up just the photos/postcards so far...
    I'll post better quality scans of the photos when i get them..
    Please do let us know what else you can find out..

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    Registered User mandotool's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1920's Mandolin orchestra with Gibson snakehead+Paddlehead co

    Quote Originally Posted by Graham McDonald View Post
    The interesting question is who made them, as most of them look as if they may well have come from the same source? If dated a few years later I might suspect the Schonbach region in Western Czechoslovakia who made a lot of carved Gibsonesque mandolins in the 30s, but I have never been able to establish when they started to make carved mandolins.

    Cheers
    Nice to have one of the foremost mandolin scholars here to help out.. Thanks Graham for the info..
    Can you provide any additional info or links to the works of these other eastern european Gibson inspired luthiers ?
    Thomas Quinn

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    Registered User f5loar's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1920's Mandolin orchestra with Gibson snakehead+Paddlehead co

    I don't see a Gibson in the bunch. No doubt some serious copying of Gibson mandolin went on back in the 20's. Those holes are round not oval.

  35. #24
    Mandolin tragic Graham McDonald's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1920's Mandolin orchestra with Gibson snakehead+Paddlehead co

    I have never found any catalogues suggesting that there were any European music companies producing carved top mandolins before the 30s, and even then it seemed to be a only few in the Schonbach region, who were mainly building them for export to the UK. The builders only a few miles away in Markneukirchen made only flat or canted soundboard mandolins with variously bowl, flat or the 'swelled' Portuguese backs. The instruments in the photos certainly look carved, but the Gibson style bodies with round soundholes are a mystery. There are a couple of Czech websites with archtop guitar collections and the folks who have those sent me some translated notes of the Schonbach builders. There seem to be quite a few collectors of older European archtop guitars out there and some fascinating websites.

    Cheers

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