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Thread: Martin Mandolin age?

  1. #1
    Registered User Dave Fultz's Avatar
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    Default Martin Mandolin age?

    I was looking at an old Martin flat top a friend is wanting to sell. It was nice, very aged looking but well cared for.

    It did look old. Very cool and in good shape. The tuners needed a dot of oil. The wood had a dark aged look. I tuned it some, as it was quite detuned about 2 steps. I tuned to a step lower than GDAE, so that would be ACGD, I guess. I was wary of tuning it up too high and breaking a string or worse.

    It sounded very pretty, but I never made an offer. I think she wanted about $700. It was the same reason I don’t have any antique furniture. I wanted something to play. It would have been to much to worry about preserving.

    Anyway the serial number a-21-129. Is that 1921?

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  2. #2

    Default Re: Martin Mandolin age?

    21129 would be 1953 according to http://www.mugwumps.com/cfm_date.html
    In my opinion, these are great instruments, and that is not a terrible price.

  3. #3
    Registered User Dave Fultz's Avatar
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    Default Re: Martin Mandolin age?

    Ok. So the dashes don’t really get figured in.

    Maybe I’ll talk to her again. The strings were ancient and maybe the tuning machines versus the really old strings might have been the reason for the tightness.

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  4. #4
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Martin Mandolin age?

    1. A full step lower than standard mandolin tuning would be FCGD.

    2. There shouldn't be hyphens in Martin serial numbers. I'm not sure when the "A" prefix was added; my 1920 Style A has no prefix, while a 1931 Martin mandola does have an "A' before the serial number. A 1953 instrument would have the prefix.

    3. The quoted price is very reasonable for a Style A (I assume that's what it is) in good, unrepaired, playable shape. Especially if it has a good case. Not sure about the "dark, aged look," but it would be normal for a 65-year-old instrument to have the spruce top darken somewhat.
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    Default Re: Martin Mandolin age?

    My 56 has an A- before the serial number also. It has a hyphen between the A and the serial number.
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    Default Re: Martin Mandolin age?

    According to my first edition copy of Mike Longworth’s definitive book, 21129 was a number from 1952; a year in which they produced 300 Syle A mandolins. I assume that the A relates to the style as no mention is made of letters in any ofvthe mandolin serial number tables.

    They also produced Style A mandolas - are we sure it’s a mandolin?

  7. #7
    Registered User Dave Fultz's Avatar
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    Default Re: Martin Mandolin age?

    It did not seem inadvertently large. I will call her tomorrow for another look.

    When I looked at it, I was being pressured to stop it and come play cards. So I only looked a few mins.

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  8. #8
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    Default Re: Martin Mandolin age?

    That might explain why it was tuned lower!

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