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Thread: Lyon & Healy Style A #1674 1925 - looking for info

  1. #1
    Timothy Tim Logan's Avatar
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    Default Lyon & Healy Style A #1674 1925 - looking for info

    This is a repost from a few days ago - under Vintage Instruments. I am wondering if this larger forum might result in some additional information. Thanks in advance.
    “I recently purchased this mandolin. Back in 2010 it was sold at a Skinner Auction. Other than serial number info from Hubert Pleijsier’s Washburn book, I’ve not been able to find any history. If you have any information about this mandolin, I would enjoy learning about it. The mandolin is currently under the gentle care of Bruce Weber while he goes over it top to bottom. He will primarily be bringing the fret board up to par and a setup et al. Bruce has been fantastic helping me with this.
    Here are some images of the mandolin. Thanks again if you can offer any input or suggestions on how to research.”

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    The instrument came with its original case in nice shape.
    Last edited by Tim Logan; Aug-27-2019 at 6:37am. Reason: upload photos
    2014 Phoenix Neoclassical Euro III
    1925 Lyon & Healy Model A #1674

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: Lyon & Healy Style A #1674 1925 - looking for info

    The Lyon and Healy Style A mandolins were introduced in 1917 at a list price of $150. The earliest examples of this model had a ~13 3/4" scale, and symmetrical body points. A mandola and mandocello were also available, but they are rarely seen.

    The body was soon changed to the same shape that your mandolin has, with asymmetrical body points. Most surviving style A's have the asymmetrical points. A little later, the scale length was changed to 13".

    Eventually, the mandolin was re-named "Washburn DeLuxe," and the price was reduced to $140. The model was still listed in catalogs after the Washburn name was taken over by Tonk Brothers in 1928, and the price reduced again to $135. Washburn essentially became an independent brand after Tonks Bros. acquired rights to the name, and most later Washburn instruments were made by Regal.

    I do not think anybody knows when the last carved Washburn mandolins were last made. A generous guess might be the mid to late 1930's, perhaps from bodies that were already in stock and were made several years earlier. Washburn struggled through the depression and did not survive WWII. Tonk Brothers merged with Continental Music in 1947.

    The Lyon & Healy company continues to operate today, manufacturing concert harps of the highest quality.

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    Default Re: Lyon & Healy Style A #1674 1925 - looking for info

    I will add that your style A is one of the latest ones that has come to my attention. The only carved top L & H/Washburn instruments that I have personally seen that were made much later were style C's. The latest one I am familiar with had a serial number well into the 2000's and had a neck with a rather crude peghead. However, the body was quite similar to mandolins made many years earlier.

    It is likely that very few style A's were made after 1930.

    The L & H carved top instruments were highly consistent in both tone and workmanship. Most were very good instruments.

  6. #4
    Kelley Mandolins Skip Kelley's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lyon & Healy Style A #1674 1925 - looking for info

    Tim, that’s a very classy mandolin! Congratulations!

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    Timothy Tim Logan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lyon & Healy Style A #1674 1925 - looking for info

    Thank you Skip! I just now heard from Bruce Weber who has given it the once over - says it’s in great shape and after he does some setup work on it, it will “play like butter”. I’ve been looking for one of these for several years and am quite excited about finally owning one in great shape!!!!!

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lyon & Healy Style A #1674 1925 - looking for info

    Tim: does yours have a Washburn label in it? I have one SN#2199 from probably the same period. By that time they dispensed with the extender and reworked the neck so the A models would not have a weak joint near the routed out scroll headstock.

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    Timothy Tim Logan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lyon & Healy Style A #1674 1925 - looking for info

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    Jim - on page 110 of Pleijsier’s book you should see photos of labels. This mandolin has the 1925 Washburn label shown (3rd one down in the right hand column of the page). I would take a picture of the actual label but I will not get the mandolin back from Bruce Weber until next week. I’ll try to attach a picture of the label in the book.
    Last edited by Tim Logan; Aug-28-2019 at 8:30pm. Reason: Add photo

  11. #8

    Default Re: Lyon & Healy Style A #1674 1925 - looking for info

    Congrats, Timothy! That's a real beauty!

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    Default Re: Lyon & Healy Style A #1674 1925 - looking for info

    Hey Tim: I finally found my Hubert book. Yes, mine has the same label. Here's a bad shot of my label—all I have on my computer for now.

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    I believe that ours were called Washburn model 5283 in the catalogs. L&H seemed to like to confuse things like starting serial numbers from 1 again after some years and changing model names for no apparent reason.

    BTW in scouting around on various web sites I noticed that some very knowledgeable vintage buffs referred to that black stuff L&H used on pickguards and gear covers "vulcanized rubber" or "hard rubber". As I noted earlier today on another thread is was called vulcanized fibre and was an early cellulose-based plastic similar to bakelite. It is not rubber at all.
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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lyon & Healy Style A #1674 1925 - looking for info

    I was able to take a decent shot of the label in mine. Even more interesting is that I noticed that there is a faint watermark(?) of the Lyon & Healy building in the background of this label. I don't know if you can see it on this photo but I was unaware that it was there until I took this photo.

    I added a darker version so you can see some of the detail of that watermark.


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    Timothy Tim Logan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lyon & Healy Style A #1674 1925 - looking for info

    Hmmmm.......that’s kind of a fun thing to note! I’ll look at mine when it gets back from Montana Lutherie. I looked in Mr. Pleijsier’s book on page 110 and I “think” I can see part of a watermark. Not sure why, but all the little details of these things fascinate me 😂

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    Default Re: Lyon & Healy Style A #1674 1925 - looking for info

    If it weren't for us vintage nitpickers a lot of these details would be undiscovered. The current Lyon & Healy Company is the only remaining link to the original company. They are prominent harp makers to this say. Back about 20 years or so ago I contacted them for more information about the company and they as much told me that they had no records of those early years. I suspect that they just didn't want to bother.
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    Default Re: Lyon & Healy Style A #1674 1925 - looking for info

    This is the page from my Lyon & Healy catalog from about 1912. Perhaps one of these photos of the building might be the one in the watermark. There is a similar collage of the building(s) in the beginning of Hubert's book.

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    Default Re: Lyon & Healy Style A #1674 1925 - looking for info

    The last fretted instruments built in the Lyon & Healy factory were made in early 1928. They continued to make harps, and still do. They also continued to operate a number of retail stores.

    Tonk Brothers acquired the rights to the Washburn name from Lyon & Healy in 1928. The instruments were built by J.R. Stewart, which went bankrupt in 1930; then subsequently by Regal and others. It is generally believed that the last of the old Washburn instruments were made no later than 1942.

    Tonk Bros. merged with Continental Music, which was C.G. Conn's wholesale division, in 1947. Although the Washburn trademark apparently passed back to Lyon & Healy in the late 1940's, no Washburn instruments were made. Eventually the Washburn name was acquired by Beckmen Musical Instruments in 1974, who started what has become the modern Washburn company.

    CBS bought what remained of the old Lyon & Healy company in 1977, closed the remaining L & H retail stores, and according to John Teagle's rather loose history of Washburn, sold the harp division to a Swiss company called LAM in 1985[??]. According to Wikipedia, Salvi Harps acquired Lyon & Healy in 1987. The harps are still made in Chicago at a decades-old factory at 168 North Ogden Avenue.

    I would be surprised if any pre-WWII Lyon & Healy company records survive.
    Last edited by rcc56; Aug-30-2019 at 11:20pm.

  21. #15

    Default Re: Lyon & Healy Style A #1674 1925 - looking for info

    I have # 1227, which I bought at Satterlee and Chapin in the Tenderloin in SF in the 80’s. After not playing at all for thirty years I got back to it a few years ago, and now play for a few hours a day. I sent the instrument to Brian Dean who brought it up to a higher level, and upon his recommendation, strung it with Lenzner/Fisoma strings, which I change after the A unwinds, two or three times a year. I haven’t met another instrument I would rather play, congratulations!

  22. #16
    Timothy Tim Logan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lyon & Healy Style A #1674 1925 - looking for info

    Hello Foster -
    Thank you for the post. I am curious about the specific string set that you use and where you get them. Could you perhaps send a link please? Thanks. I will use Thomastik Mittels on this Model A - the same strings which I use and love on my Phoenix Neoclassical Euro.
    Tim
    2014 Phoenix Neoclassical Euro III
    1925 Lyon & Healy Model A #1674

  23. #17

    Default Re: Lyon & Healy Style A #1674 1925 - looking for info

    Hi TIm,
    I sent you a link. I haven’t done the complete tour through these kinds of strings, and each instrument responds uniquely anyway. I have played the Calace, the Lenzner, and the Thommastiks, and would be ok with any of them, but I am used to the Lenzner, and find them a little more present, and like the wound A string.

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lyon & Healy Style A #1674 1925 - looking for info

    I had never been a fan of Thomastik mandolin strings. I tried them on my Gibson in the 1980s and hated them. However, after some resistance I put a set of mediums on my Washburn Pro A and would never go back. These brings out the uniqueness in tone of these L&H mandolins and perfect for classical pieces.

    However, I do not use the on any of my other mandolins. However, you should try as many strings as you like to find the right combination.

    I do also own a long scale symmetrical L&H A. Unfortunately it needs some serious work. I never strung it with Thomastiks though. Perhaps some day if and when I hve it restored.

    I have used Fisoma Consort strings on my bowlbacks and they are very nice strings. Work quite nicely on European bowlbacks. Thomastik flatwounds are very different from the roundwound Fisoma or Calace strings. I love the Dogal Calace strings on vintage bowlbacks. I tried a dolce set on my vintage Vega and it sounds wonderful.
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    Default Re: Lyon & Healy Style A #1674 1925 - looking for info

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    Lyon & Healy Style A #1802 1925

    I purchased my Healy from David Grisman in 2014 & this has mow become my favorite mandolin, I love playing Italian music with it along with songs from the WWII time period that I learned from my Pop many years ago.
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  29. #20
    Timothy Tim Logan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lyon & Healy Style A #1674 1925 - looking for info

    Hi John -
    That is a gorgeous mandolin (kind of neat that Dave Grisman owned it!) and a really fun ad. Thanks for posting! I looked at your profile and saw the group for vintage catalogs and joined it. ��
    2014 Phoenix Neoclassical Euro III
    1925 Lyon & Healy Model A #1674

  30. #21

    Default Re: Lyon & Healy Style A #1674 1925 - looking for info

    Quote Originally Posted by Tim Logan View Post
    Hi John -
    That is a gorgeous mandolin (kind of neat that Dave Grisman owned it!) and a really fun ad. Thanks for posting! I looked at your profile and saw the group for vintage catalogs and joined it. ��
    Thanks for the post I also collect old catalogs & ads. I really enjoy reading anything mandolin from the 1900 through the early 1940's but I concentrate on Healy, Gibson & Bacon mandolins.

  31. #22
    Timothy Tim Logan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lyon & Healy Style A #1674 1925 - looking for info

    I share that enjoyment as well. I have the Pfeijsier book but don’t see too many other resources. Any resources that you’ve found helpful, I would love to hear about Thanks!
    2014 Phoenix Neoclassical Euro III
    1925 Lyon & Healy Model A #1674

  32. #23

    Default Re: Lyon & Healy Style A #1674 1925 - looking for info

    Tim,
    Click image for larger version. 

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    I also own the Pleijsier book & as far as I know it's the only complete book of Lyon & Healy/Washburn. I also have some reprint Healy catalogs that are good but don't really tell the history they just show some of the different mandolin models.Click image for larger version. 

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  34. #24
    Timothy Tim Logan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lyon & Healy Style A #1674 1925 - looking for info

    For those who may be interested I can now post a picture of what I believe is an original case (?) as today I received the mandolin back from Bruce Weber who smoothed out the fret board, new frets etc. plays like a dream now ��.Click image for larger version. 

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    2014 Phoenix Neoclassical Euro III
    1925 Lyon & Healy Model A #1674

  35. #25

    Default Re: Lyon & Healy Style A #1674 1925 - looking for info

    That is almost certainly the original case.

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