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Thread: I just want to know the year

  1. #1

    Default I just want to know the year

    Hey everybody o just bought my first mandolin on an impulse buy when I was at on of my localish music shops. Itís a B&J Victoria bowlback mandolin there was a tag on if from the previous owner that said 1910 and the music shop tag said between 1880 and 1920. Iíd love to just know anything I can about it. I just fixed a crack and strung it up and itís fun to play with and to me sounds good. I may just have to build a f type mandolin now. Iíll post pics soon but is there even a way to get a more exact date on these things

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  3. #2
    Registered User Timbofood's Avatar
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    Default Re: I just want to know the year

    2019

    Sorry, I’m going to the corner now.
    It was just too good not to pass up.
    Timothy F. Lewis
    "If brains was lard, that boy couldn't grease a very big skillet" J.D. Clampett

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  5. #3
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: I just want to know the year

    Without pictures it's hard to make the WAG assessment. B&J didn't manufacture anything, they were a distributor. That mandolin could have been made by several manufacturers and without seeing it there is no way for anyone to even remotely try and guess as to the year and the manufacturer.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  6. #4

    Default Re: I just want to know the year

    B & J started in 1897, so that's your base date.

  7. #5
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: I just want to know the year

    If you can post a pic, it may be instructive to compare it to Lyon & Healy or Washburn catalog pics. My B & J Victoria is likely L & H made, resembles closely Washburn's Model 250, with a differently shaped headstock and inlays that vary from the ones shown in the catalog. Woods, rib count, number of frets etc. are in line with the Washburn specs. Pleijsier's book Washburn Prewar Instrument Styles has a wealth of catalog drawings.
    Allen Hopkins
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  9. #6

    Default Re: I just want to know the year

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  10. #7

    Default Re: I just want to know the year

    If you could count the number of staves, that would be useful. It looks a bit like a Style 225 from L & H. They were made before 1897 and for many years later.

  11. #8

    Default Re: I just want to know the year

    im at work right now but i think it had something like 28 staves.

  12. #9

    Default Re: I just want to know the year

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  13. #10

    Default Re: I just want to know the year

    The 235 has 28 rosewood staves. I assume the tailpiece cover is missing? You see a lot of engraving on the metalwork of the 235 but to save some expense, to give B & J an edge, plainer items may have been used- as on the tuner cover and inlays.

  14. #11

    Default Re: I just want to know the year

    yes the tailpiece is missing would the rosewood be Brazilian rosewood? and is there a way to narrow it down to a exact year. and would this be marketed more tward a beginner player or more advanced back in the day?

  15. #12

    Default Re: I just want to know the year

    Yes, Brazilian rosewood. Your label is a way of dating the instrument but I do not know about the Victoria labels- whether they changed over the years- like the various Washburn labels. I would suggest that the cost of the mandolin does not tell you the level of skill the player had. It might be that a proficient player treated himself to it and trading up- or it was bought by someone for an aspiring player. It is impossible to know unless there is a family history. I have two Neapolitan bowlbacks that belonged to my great grandfather who had a band although his work was in advertising- and before that in jewellery making. One is a Vinaccia which is quite a good mandolin. I would reckon this one of yours to be pretty good- the intonation was probably good when new- many Neapolitan instruments were not so good when new! Let's hope somebody else can give you a date. I would be surprised if it is later than 1920 but it could be. I don't know if any B & J catalogues from the first two decades of the century are floating around.

    Here is a very different Victoria- made by Regal- not L & H but the two companies lives were interwoven- and very convoluted- beyond my understanding! I don't know how the seller comes to 1919 on this mandolin- if I was shown those tuners, I would suspect late 20s or later although they are cog over worm type which were used after the worms were moved over the cog- they had been made in their thousands. However, the label is similar- if not the same: https://reverb.com/item/6593947-b-j-...-natural-brown

    Finally, here is a bowlback- more glitzy than yours but I would imagine it to be essentially the same basic instrument. No date suggested: https://www.ebay.com/itm/312636497152
    Last edited by NickR; Jun-07-2019 at 1:33pm.

  16. #13

    Default Re: I just want to know the year

    Thanks for all the information you can tell by the wear on the fretboard this thing was definitely played a lot. The first fret is worn all the way down to the wood. It’s still very playable and to me sounds pretty damn good. Regardless of value or anything I just want to know the history about it and will enjoy it for many years. also this came from the Glen Quan private collection bananas at large is selling in san rafeal california. i have never heard of the guy till i walked into the store but they acted like he was well known.
    Last edited by Leftcoastluthier; Jun-07-2019 at 6:46pm.

  17. #14

    Default Re: I just want to know the year

    Let's hope while this thread is "live" that someone can shed a bit more light on this model and its approximate age. My guess is 1910-1920. It's good to know it has been played and cherished and you are going to do the same. I bought my 1960 Telecaster from a guy in San Rafael, back in 1978. He was from Montreal but had escaped the harsh winters in Quebec and had bought a Firebird- it had been owned by John Cipollina, so he was selling the Tele, which is an incredibly good guitar but now needs a refret- not its first, either.

  18. #15
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: I just want to know the year

    Looking at descriptions of Washburn mandolins in the Pleijsier book, some of the changes in this L & H line may be instructive as to the Victoria under consideration. The pickguard closely resembles what Pleijsier calls the "cloud" shape, characteristic of 1896-1905 Washburns. This was also the time when L & H started extending the fretboard to 20 frets, which this one has.

    The tailpiece cover would tell us something, if it were there. By the way, the first pic shows the mandolin unstrung, but with the bridge in place. I assume it's not glued there, and that it was just set on the top for the photo...?
    Allen Hopkins
    Gibsn: '54 F5 3pt F2 A-N Custm K1 m'cello
    Natl Triolian Dobro mando
    Victoria b-back Merrill alumnm b-back
    H-O mandolinetto
    Stradolin Vega banjolin
    Sobell'dola Washburn b-back'dola
    Eastmn: 615'dola 805 m'cello
    Flatiron 3K OM

  19. #16

    Default Re: I just want to know the year

    Not glued just sitting there

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  21. #17
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    Default Re: I just want to know the year

    I have a Lyon and Healy bowlback that looks like a twin to your mandolin - my label says 1902.

  22. #18

    Default Re: I just want to know the year

    I thought that Lyon & Healy labels where there were dates printed, were the model date- eg 1897 model or some award given in a particular year. Is the date hand written on the label?

  23. #19
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: I just want to know the year

    You should get Hubert's book. It really changed the way most of us looked at L&H.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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  25. #20
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: I just want to know the year

    Quote Originally Posted by NickR View Post
    I thought that Lyon & Healy labels where there were dates printed, were the model date- eg 1897 model or some award given in a particular year. Is the date hand written on the label?
    If it were labeled by L & H, it would definitely be easier to estimate a date of manufacture. The mandolin in question is a Victoria, which is a label used by Bugeleisen & Jensen, B & J, a large-scale distributor that bought instruments from a variety of manufacturers, and sold them to dealers. It looks like an L & H manufacture, but it could have been built by another company.

    The Pleijsier book gives a well-researched method for ID'ing and thus dating L & H's Washburn line of instruments. We're sorta using that schema to draw an analogy to features on the Victoria; if L & H extended fingerboards around 1900, and this one has an extended fingerboard, it may be post-1900, yada yada...

    Dealing with a label from a distributor, rather than a manufacturer, is more problematical. B & J probably sold mandolins that looked like L & H, Regal, who knows what other makers. And they could all have been labeled "Victoria." I own a Victoria that looks very much like a Washburn model from 1905-20 or so, so I infer L & H manufacture, but it's not a sure thing.
    Allen Hopkins
    Gibsn: '54 F5 3pt F2 A-N Custm K1 m'cello
    Natl Triolian Dobro mando
    Victoria b-back Merrill alumnm b-back
    H-O mandolinetto
    Stradolin Vega banjolin
    Sobell'dola Washburn b-back'dola
    Eastmn: 615'dola 805 m'cello
    Flatiron 3K OM

  26. #21

    Default Re: I just want to know the year

    What kind of tuners are on this thing. I’ve never seen tuners with the back plate in it. If I took the plate off would they fall apart or is it all one big pice.

  27. #22
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: I just want to know the year

    Chances are that is simply a cover plate for tuners that look somewhat like this.
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    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  28. #23
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: I just want to know the year

    Different manufacturers used different tuner styles. This was a "look" that some manufacturers wanted (and perhaps the buyers wanted as well). Weymann actually put their covers on the front like this:
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    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  29. #24
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: I just want to know the year

    There are a few different Martin plates in this thread. I'd say those tuners on these Martins were probably attached to the plate.

    Within a few years most of the manufacturers started just installing them on the back of the headstock, no inset, no covers.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  30. #25
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    Default Re: I just want to know the year

    Quote Originally Posted by NickR View Post
    I thought that Lyon & Healy labels where there were dates printed, were the model date- eg 1897 model or some award given in a particular year. Is the date hand written on the label?
    It is handwritten, so I guess anyone could have written it any time. I am presuming it is accurate, but may not be.

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