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Thread: "Ceccherini" Bowl Back Mandolin on eBay

  1. #1

    Default "Ceccherini" Bowl Back Mandolin on eBay

    Here is perhaps a chance to acquire a Ceccherini mandolin inexpensively.

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/1895-Umbert...wAAOSwEy1dml0a

    Alas, the quality of the listing pictures leaves something to be desired. I can see one tuner button is missing, and so is the bridge. Thank god, the original strings seem to be all gone, but I can't tell about the tailpiece. Either way, the seller says a "highly regarded luthier" gave him a very reasonable estimate (for the mandolin repair, I presume.)

    Now we come to a curious part. The eBay listing says "1895 Ceccherini". I didn't think Ceccherini labels had any year marked on them, just something that looked like a serial number. Could it be that the seller took the serial number to represent the fabrication year ?

    Be that as it may, I ain't bidding, so have no worries. I already own all Ceccherinis I have ever wanted and then some.

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    Registered User Martin Jonas's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Ceccherini" Bowl Back Mandolin on eBay

    Hard to tell the condition from that listing -- the photos are pretty fuzzy. I don't think it says 1895 on the label; as Peter has said I'm not aware of any Ceccherini being dated. Indeed, I suspect it's post 1900, because of the fretboard extension which only the later ones have. I don't see any obvious bow to the neck, and assuming that's the case it should be possible to make this one playable with relatively modest means if you can do the work yourself, subject to the condition of the frets (you don't want to refret a bowlback!) and subject to getting a decent replacement bridge.

    All in all, given the risk in respect of condition that's a pretty good Buy-It-Now price. If you can make it playable, it will be a lovely instrument to play. Like Peter, I already have enough Ceccherinis, so I won't be in the frame.

    Martin

  3. #3

    Default Re: "Ceccherini" Bowl Back Mandolin on eBay

    Quote Originally Posted by Martin Jonas View Post
    Hard to tell the condition from that listing -- the photos are pretty fuzzy. I don't think it says 1895 on the label; as Peter has said I'm not aware of any Ceccherini being dated. Indeed, I suspect it's post 1900, because of the fretboard extension which only the later ones have. I don't see any obvious bow to the neck, and assuming that's the case it should be possible to make this one playable with relatively modest means if you can do the work yourself, subject to the condition of the frets (you don't want to refret a bowlback!) and subject to getting a decent replacement bridge.

    All in all, given the risk in respect of condition that's a pretty good Buy-It-Now price. If you can make it playable, it will be a lovely instrument to play. Like Peter, I already have enough Ceccherinis, so I won't be in the frame.

    Martin
    Martin, glad to hear you've never seen a dated Ceccherini mandolin either. Now, I am hoping that we'll find a mandolin with a dated importer's label, and that would be better than nothing. Thus we always seem to be confronted with a multifaceted "Ceccherini mystery":
    (1) Was Umberto C. a real person or merely a designer label for some other luthierie business, say De Meglios ?
    (2) In what historical period were the C instruments crafted ?
    (3) Where in Naples was the C. workshop located, if there was a dedicated C. shop ever ?
    (4) Did any C. mandolins sell locally/domestically, or they were strictly an export brand ?
    Last edited by Peter K; Oct-06-2019 at 7:48pm.

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    Default Re: "Ceccherini" Bowl Back Mandolin on eBay

    I wonder what kind of offer they would take?

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Ceccherini" Bowl Back Mandolin on eBay

    Quote Originally Posted by LadysSolo View Post
    I wonder what kind of offer they would take?
    Try them.
    Jim

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    Default Re: "Ceccherini" Bowl Back Mandolin on eBay

    Come to think of it, the tentative "serial number" that can be seen on Voigt's labels in Ceccherini mandolins may not be the workshop's own unit identifier. I feel that Voight might have introduced some sort of unit numbering scheme into his Ceccherini contract in order to help with accounting and mandolin unit traceability.

    One generic Ceccherini label, i.e., unrelated to Voigt, I have in front of me departs from a well established instrument labeling practice of luthiers in Italy and elsewhere: no year, no address, no familial or craft connections (e.g. "son of", "apprentice of", "mandolin building school of" ). Only "Umberto Ceccherini, Napoli", and a signature.
    That info paucity I find nothing short of remarkable and hard to explain.

  7. #7

    Default Re: "Ceccherini" Bowl Back Mandolin on eBay

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    Try them.
    Right on, Jim. Given that we are talking about a Ceccherini mandolin which appears in one piece, priced at $100 BIN, I'd expect it to have been taken instantly. Just one illustration of a very low demand for BB mandolins these days. However, that eBay Ceccherini is shown as sold now.

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    Default Re: "Ceccherini" Bowl Back Mandolin on eBay

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter K View Post
    Martin, glad to hear you've never seen a dated Ceccherini mandolin either. Now, I am hoping that we'll find a mandolin with a dated importer's label, and that would be better than nothing. Thus we always seem to be confronted with a multifaceted "Ceccherini mystery":
    (1) Was Umberto C. a real person or merely a designer label for some other luthierie business, say De Meglios ?
    (2) In what historical period were the C instruments crafted ?
    (3) Where in Naples was the C. workshop located, if there was a dedicated C. shop ever ?
    (4) Did any C. mandolins sell locally/domestically, or they were strictly an export brand ?
    (1) I'm pretty sure U. Ceccherini was a real person and that he made mandolins. His instruments are distinctive enough to tell that they weren't simply generic mandolins with a label stuck in for show.

    I can't help with (2) and (3).

    (4) I read somewhere (forget where) that one of the big mandolinists of the day played Ceccherini's mandolins all over Britain and promoted them heavily. As a result virtually all of his output was sold in Britain.
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    Default Re: "Ceccherini" Bowl Back Mandolin on eBay

    Quote Originally Posted by tonydxn View Post
    (1) I'm pretty sure U. Ceccherini was a real person and that he made mandolins. His instruments are distinctive enough to tell that they weren't simply generic mandolins with a label stuck in for show.

    I can't help with (2) and (3).

    (4) I read somewhere (forget where) that one of the big mandolinists of the day played Ceccherini's mandolins all over Britain and promoted them heavily. As a result virtually all of his output was sold in Britain.
    Thanks, Tony, for this.

    I've been a big fan of DeMeglio and Ceccherini mandolins. I own a few DeM's but only a modest UC. Of course, our good friend, Martin, is the resident UmbertoC expert and advocate so I hope he joins in.

    For whatever reason, I love the design sensibility of both these labels. I think the DeMeglios play wonderful for mandolins produced at such numbers and my Ceccherini, however modest, is delightful. Martin J described the "shimmering sound" of Italian mandolins and these certainly have it.

    The connection between these two remains of real interest to me. Peter K's question #1 is a natural one to ask.

    I've long been interested in the relationship between DeMeglio shop and Umberto. Did he start working there and break out on his own and intensify his design work (eg. double tops)? How did they wind up with the same basic design framework?

    We have no hard and fast paper trail at this time. Only speculation, however wise.

    The idea that there were some UK mandolinists promoting Ceccherinis is tantalizingly fascinating. If so, promotional material might likely turn up. Let's hope your memory about this restores!

    Did they (DeMeglio and UC) have an ongoing symbiotic relationship with importers from the UK? It seems, at least from the labels and the extant examples, that the huge DeMeglio output was destined for the UK and French markets.

    Not many of them turn up on Ebay.it for instance. (Not that that is a scientific method of investigation.)

    Since shipping over here has become problematic, we're building up to an extended holiday in the UK where we can come back (hopefully) to the States with axe or two. And a button box for me, of course. Would make for a wonderful way to make a mando-melodeon riff on The Trip.

    Mick
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    Default Re: "Ceccherini" Bowl Back Mandolin on eBay

    Quote Originally Posted by brunello97 View Post
    The idea that there were some UK mandolinists promoting Ceccherinis is tantalizingly fascinating. If so, promotional material might likely turn up. Let's hope your memory about this restores!
    Glad you found my input interesting, so I went off and did my homework. My source for the information was Dave Hynds' website (here). This is what he says:

    'All Ceccherinis I have ever seen were distributed exclusively by the firm of Alban Voigt in London, (a prolific importer of several manufacturers), suggesting that he simply boxed up his entire output and shipped them from Naples to London. The great concert soloist Leopoldo Francia of Milan, played exclusively Ceccherini mandolins. Francia became prominent in Italy by winning the Genoa concourse in 1892 and then toured worldwide, eventually settling in London in 1895. He was a great sensation, and taught extensively (mainly to lady students in high society). The inference seems pretty straightforward that the Alban Voigt/Ceccherini link-up could only have occurred after 1895, and that the reason most of his instruments were shipped to the UK, was the demand created by Francia's personal endorsement.
    Many thanks to Martin Jonas for most of this information.'

    I also consulted Paul Sparks' book 'The Classical Mandolin'. He gives little information but states that Leopoldo Francia played 'a four-octave mandolin built for him by Neapolitan maker Umberto Ceccherini.' He states his source for this information as the October 1896 issue of 'Banjo World'. He also gives dates for Ceccherini as 'fl. c.1890-1990'. Presumably 'fl.' means 'flourished'.

    If you are a fan of Ceccherini's mandolins you may be interested to see this example of a 10-string mandolin which sold last May at auction in Bristol UK for 120 + fees. It looks as if it's in quite good condition under all that dirt.
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    Mandolins: Bandolim by Antonio Pereira Cabral
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    Default Re: "Ceccherini" Bowl Back Mandolin on eBay

    Thanks, Tony. The timing you describe is very interesting.

    FWIW The earliest DeMeglio I have in our "data base" is from 1893--before the salad days of the Francia endorsement. Their SNs suggest an output of about 1000 per year, with a blip up to 2000 in 1895.

    I have seen references to UC from considerably before 1895 but would have to turn to Martin for specifics on that.

    Hard not to think about some relationship between Ceccherini and DeMeglio during that time period.

    My (very) modest UC is lighter and more delicate than my DeMeglios, but the rosewood, for instance, is less choice. I like its delicate sound a lot.

    The nicer (maybe later?) UCs seem clearly a peg above the DeMs, but the output must have been far fewer.

    An off the cuff speculation might have Umberto running the production for DeMeglio and simultaneously marketing his own "line" to the UK.

    Pretty far fetched, I know....but it would resemble the relationship that Raphael Ciani seems to have had with Oscar Schmidt just a few years later over in NJ.

    AFAIK, DeMeglio were piano dealers before getting into the mandolin business. Probably even during.


    Thanks, too, for the 10-string link. These do turn up here for conversation now and again. I think Martin might even have one of these geared down to 8 strings.

    Good stuff!

    Mick
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    Default Re: "Ceccherini" Bowl Back Mandolin on eBay

    Quote Originally Posted by tonydxn View Post
    Glad you found my input interesting, so I went off and did my homework. My source for the information was Dave Hynds' website (here). This is what he says:

    'All Ceccherinis I have ever seen were distributed exclusively by the firm of Alban Voigt in London, (a prolific importer of several manufacturers), suggesting that he simply boxed up his entire output and shipped them from Naples to London. The great concert soloist Leopoldo Francia of Milan, played exclusively Ceccherini mandolins. Francia became prominent in Italy by winning the Genoa concourse in 1892 and then toured worldwide, eventually settling in London in 1895. He was a great sensation, and taught extensively (mainly to lady students in high society). The inference seems pretty straightforward that the Alban Voigt/Ceccherini link-up could only have occurred after 1895, and that the reason most of his instruments were shipped to the UK, was the demand created by Francia's personal endorsement.
    Many thanks to Martin Jonas for most of this information.'
    <snip>
    If you are a fan of Ceccherini's mandolins you may be interested to see this example of a 10-string mandolin which sold last May at auction in Bristol UK for 120 + fees. It looks as if it's in quite good condition under all that dirt.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    My only Ceccherini is a double top one resembling the others of its kind but one of the only ones I have seen without an Alban Voight label. Mine has one from A. E. Sutton, Tunbridge, Wells, England.

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    The odd thing about the 10 string models is that the lower strings are double courses and the two higher ones are triple courses, instead of a 5 course mandolin. I am not sure what was intended with that design.
    Jim

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    Default Re: "Ceccherini" Bowl Back Mandolin on eBay

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    The odd thing about the 10 string models is that the lower strings are double courses and the two higher ones are triple courses, instead of a 5 course mandolin. I am not sure what was intended with that design.
    My first adventure with mandolins was fixing up a badly-damaged flatback which had belonged to my grandfather. It was almost certainly of German make and it had 10 strings arranged in the same way. The story in the family was that he had had it made like this specially for him because he wanted extra volume on the top strings.
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    Default Re: "Ceccherini" Bowl Back Mandolin on eBay

    Jim, what does the stamp read below the bridge on yours? "Sistema ________"

    Doesn't appear to be a ubiquitous feature on the UCs.

    Mick
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    Default Re: "Ceccherini" Bowl Back Mandolin on eBay

    It says "SISTEMA BREVETATTO - NAPOLI" - Patented System - Napoli.

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    Here's a nice clear one:

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    The one other example with a Sutton label also has that stamp but only a few of the Voight labelled ones have that stamp. Perhaps they didn't stamp any of these until they were granted this patent. Maybe they were not allowed to stamp patent pending?

    I wonder if the patent applied to the double top design.
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    Default Re: "Ceccherini" Bowl Back Mandolin on eBay

    Sorry I'm a bit late on this thread. but picking up on some of the discussion points:

    1. What the Sparks book says is that: (a) Francia was endorsing Ceccherini mandolins and played a custom instrument with extended range (the standard fretboard at the time was 17/18 frets). There is a photo of player and instrument in the book. (b) Francia became famous as a the standout soloist at the Genoa contest in 1891, and then became a sellout attraction on the European concert circuit, eventually moving permentantly to London in 1895. (c) There, Francia taught mandolin to ladies in society and court circles.

    2. I don't know whether Francia was already playing a Ceccherini in 1891, or only when he relocated to London in 1895. The only date given on Ceccherini labels is an award he won in 1881 -- well before Francia's emergence and the start of the mandolin boom proper. However, the fact that all (or almost all) labels show a UK distributor suggests that basically the entire production run was crated up and shipped to the UK.

    3. Drawing a connection between what Sparks says about Francia's prominence in London from 1895 and the UK-only distribution of the Ceccherini brand is speculative, but appears to me likely -- if you have a star player relocating and the brand he endorsed is then sold only in that country, it seems to me that he probably actively promoted them.

    4. We don't know when Ceccherini stopped building, but I note that there is an advert for Ceccherini mandolins in Philip Bone's "The Guitar and Mandolin", which was published in 1914 (link). That advert names the "Sole Wholesale Agent" as "Beare & Son, 32 Rathbone Place, London", indicating that by 1914, the Alban Voigt deal was history, or that Voigt had merged with Beare & Son. However, I have nerver seen a label with that name. Mick: You'll be pleased to see that the 1914 advert has the same simple elegance in the design as the instruments, especially compared to the much more clumsy adverts placed by other makers/dealers in the book.

    5. I did once buy a somewhat beaten-up 10-string Ceccherini and fixed it up with setup as an 8-string. Quite a nice player, but it was surplus to my needs and I sold it for a decent price to a buyer in Naples. I'd like to think of it as going home to meet its maker.

    6. There do seem to be two slightly different styles of bowl size and fret markers, and I assume the slightly larger bowls are the later instruments as they appear generally in better condition. No evidence, though.

    7. My regular (and now only) Ceccherini does have the patent stamp, but the ones I have sold did not. One of them was the 10-string and the other was the only Ceccherini I know without the double top and with a De Meglio-style downholding bar instead of the metal hooks behind the bridge. Both were what I think of as the "older" style of bowl and fret markers.

    Martin
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    Default Re: "Ceccherini" Bowl Back Mandolin on eBay

    Martin: It's about time you got here. We were anxiously awaiting your arrival.
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    Default Re: "Ceccherini" Bowl Back Mandolin on eBay

    Quote Originally Posted by Martin Jonas View Post
    .... Mick: You'll be pleased to see that the 1914 advert has the same simple elegance in the design as the instruments, especially compared to the much more clumsy adverts placed by other makers/dealers in the book......

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    Default Re: "Ceccherini" Bowl Back Mandolin on eBay

    My favorite oddball Ceccherinis are this one which looks pretty standard issue with the exception of tiny brass screws, I assume for decorative purpose, all over the bowl. It is a double top one and I believe with a Voight label. I have a few examples of this. At first I thought this was some decoration applied after-market by an owner but I have these three examples:

    Here is #1:
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    #2:
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    #3:
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    Jim

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    Default Re: "Ceccherini" Bowl Back Mandolin on eBay

    Thanks, Jim.

    I'm surprised that all the screw head slots aren't aligned.

    The tulipwood top banding seems to have stayed intact on all three examples. I wonder if the tiny screws played any role in that... or perhaps just from being kept in a case.

    The bottom example doesn't seem to have the brass neck-bowl ring that the top two have.

    We should also note the Calace-style holes / ports in the top. FWIW the earliest RC that I have in my files with the holes is a 1903 but that doesn't suggest anything really about when he began deploying them.

    It is possible, I suppose, that UC tried them out even earlier than RC.

    I do find it odd that UC wouldn't have lined the holes with something (as Calace did), given the level of detailing that his work is noted for. Perhaps those "grommets" came up missing.

    Mick
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    Default Re: "Ceccherini" Bowl Back Mandolin on eBay

    Quote Originally Posted by brunello97 View Post

    I do find it odd that UC wouldn't have lined the holes with something (as Calace did), given the level of detailing that his work is noted for. Perhaps those "grommets" came up missing.
    Speaking of missing parts, it may be worth noting that all these Ceccherinis originally had a rather pretty tailpiece cover/sleeve protector, as shown in the 1914 advert. These were quite different from those used on Vinaccia-style instruments and consisted of a metal part that was held in place at the tailpiece by an anchor-like extension that latched between the middle two pegs of the tailpiece and at the bridge end by two protruding corners pushed underneath the outermost strings. On top of the metal part, there was a decorative tortoiseshell (or celluloid) cover, inlaid in a matching style to the scratchplate and taking up its design language.

    Only one of my Ceccherinis still had the tailpiece cover (the 10-string), but I note that De Meglio used much the same design, so this is another communality between them.

    Martin

  26. #22
    Registered User tonydxn's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Ceccherini" Bowl Back Mandolin on eBay

    There was some discussion of these 'screwed' Ceccherinis on this thread. The screws in the bowl do play a structural role in that they are screwed into narrow struts that go round inside the bowl, thus reducing the chances of splitting. Most of them are just decorative though. I didn't photograph the label in mine, but as far as I can remember it had an Alban Voigt label, overstamped by Beare & Son.
    Mandolins: Bandolim by Antonio Pereira Cabral
    German flatback by unknown maker converted from a descant Waldzither

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