Results 1 to 8 of 8

Thread: Derr mandolin, Toledo

  1. #1
    Registered User Jacqke's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Gillette, Wyoming, USA
    Posts
    97

    Default Derr mandolin, Toledo

    A yard sale find in Western Montana, thanks to my mother, got me researching a brand called “Derr.” Unfortunately the inside label is gone, but otherwise it’s intact. It took a while to find the history (assuming I’m correct).
    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	910F5BC4-AD3A-4DE6-A1B1-CC66E0AA2B4A.jpg 
Views:	23 
Size:	394.8 KB 
ID:	180589Click image for larger version. 

Name:	EDB36CBF-7242-45D8-9AB6-8FB50F45978A.jpg 
Views:	32 
Size:	694.9 KB 
ID:	180590Click image for larger version. 

Name:	73B66400-94CF-461C-B1DD-C47F9DD914F5.jpg 
Views:	21 
Size:	412.1 KB 
ID:	180591Click image for larger version. 

Name:	1AD59EEC-D56F-4270-94AD-1CF0279F38DC.jpg 
Views:	20 
Size:	630.7 KB 
ID:	180592

    An earlier eBay sale with an identical looking instrument said “it was made by a small, local company out of Toledo Ohio.” They estimated between 1900 to 1950. Elderly instruments described theirs as “NO NAME MANDOLIN (1920's) (used)...teardrop shaped body, bent spruce top, Brazilian rosewood back and sides, black-bound body and soundhole, mahogany neck (slight separation at heel joint), white-bound 20 fret ebonized fingerboard with dot inlays, Brazilian rosewood headstock overlay, recessed tuners with metal cover, clamshell tailpiece, tortoise plastic pickguard, interior label reads "DERR BROS. / WHOLESALE & RETAIL MUSICAL MERCHANDISE / TOLEDO, - OHIO," 1-1/8" nut, ~13" scale, with OHSC (purple lining).”

    Mine is lined with brown/tan paper.

    Looking in Toledo, I found two brothers. William J. Derr, a multi-instrumentalist who played trombone, tuba, upright bass, guitar and mandolin, and who taught music from about 1902 through 1940. He must have been good, because he organized the 1925 convention of the American Guild of Mandolinists, Banjoists and Guitarists, in Toledo that year, and performed. His brother was a bandmaster and composer for band works, Charles B. Derr. The two published music together as the Derr Brothers. From the Etude magazine, January 1910:
    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	1D87EF40-80E2-4DA0-801E-C5904827FAEA.jpeg 
Views:	13 
Size:	336.9 KB 
ID:	180588

    In trying to confirm the instrument as one of William J. Derr’s, I found a grandson with a 1937 photo of one of Derr’s bands. Comparing an instrument in the front row to mine confirmed to me that the Derr on the headstock was associated with Willian J. Derr. In particular the dots on the neck and the name on the headstock (it’s shape) were indicators that the two were the same.
    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	FA0AB9E8-D2A5-41B3-8C37-0C1F8EA73602.jpeg 
Views:	19 
Size:	755.6 KB 
ID:	180586

    The bio is from the March 1925 edition of Crescendo magazine, page 9 of the pdf.
    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	3A468E4E-7FEA-463C-B820-C94F61475795.jpeg 
Views:	15 
Size:	1.40 MB 
ID:	180587
    https://urresearch.rochester.edu/fil...mFileId=183896

    I am attaching some links to material that shows more about this midwestern musical family, who played, taught, composed, and retailed music in Toledo in the first 40 years of the 20th century.

    Crescendo magazine, page 5:
    https://urresearch.rochester.edu/fil...mFileId=183903

    Music Trade Review, May 30, 1925, talking about the convention for which Derr was manager. https://mtr.arcade-museum.com/MTR-1925-80-22/131/

    History from 1910, which calls William J. Derr a music retailer. https://books.google.com/books?id=fz...%80%9D&f=false

    The Talking Machine World trade magazine June 15, 1925, talking about the convention and mentioning Derr. https://www.americanradiohistory.com...-Page-0163.pdf

    How it plays:
    This was a student instrument, (probably) made for William J. Derr to sell in his store, to students he himself would teach. It was a bowlback in an era when Gibson and Lyon & Healy carved mandolins dominated Derr’s band (I’m guessing at brands, see the 1937 photo.) That said, it is easier to play than my modern Chinese F-5 imitation, the sound is decent and the action is lower than any modern student mandolin I have touched. If I have one complaint, it is that the fret I use to tune a course of strings against the next course is off... doesn’t bother me most of the time, but sometimes the notes are sour.

    If anyone else finds more about Derr or his mandolins, or has other ideas about what I’ve concluded, I’m all ears.
    Last edited by Jacqke; Oct-14-2019 at 7:30pm.

  2. The following members say thank you to Jacqke for this post:


  3. #2
    Registered User Timbofood's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Kalamazoo, MI.
    Posts
    7,021

    Default Re: Derr mandolin, Toledo

    I love this stuff!
    Timothy F. Lewis
    "If brains was lard, that boy couldn't grease a very big skillet" J.D. Clampett

  4. #3

    Default Re: Derr mandolin, Toledo

    I am not a great expert in US-made mandolins, but I agree that Derr was probably a reseller, rather than a maker. To me the instrument looks like a run of the mill turn of the century mandolin possibly from a Chicago factory. However it may have been a custom factory order given the special fingerboard markers and brand insert in a headstock. The tuners are probably not original.

  5. The following members say thank you to vic-victor for this post:

    Jacqke 

  6. #4
    Registered User Jacqke's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Gillette, Wyoming, USA
    Posts
    97

    Default Re: Derr mandolin, Toledo

    Quote Originally Posted by vic-victor View Post
    The tuners are probably not original.
    After you said that, I finally was able to find them online. The tuners aren’t original, but appear to be Grover 304C Sta-Tite Mandolin Tuners in chrome. So there has been some restoration done.

  7. #5
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Westchester, NY
    Posts
    26,358

    Default Re: Derr mandolin, Toledo

    It looks to me to be made for Derr by Lyon & Healy. They probably asked for a mix of features like the custom headstock inlay and slightly fancier fretboard markers for a student-grade model. See similar (but not exactly) ones on this color page from my 1912 L&H catalog. And some specs for those models.

    BTW I doubt that the bowlback you have would have been sold in his store later than the teens. I am pretty sure he would have been selling flatbacks like the one that Elderly sold and like those pictured in the 1937 band photo.

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	amcon_mandos_color_med.jpg 
Views:	13 
Size:	222.6 KB 
ID:	180614 Click image for larger version. 

Name:	AmCon1912p259_LO.jpg 
Views:	10 
Size:	239.6 KB 
ID:	180615

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	DerrBand1937.jpg 
Views:	11 
Size:	356.7 KB 
ID:	180616
    Jim

    My Stream on Soundcloud
    Facebook
    19th Century Tunes
    Playing lately:
    1923 Gibson A2 black snakehead -- '83 Flatiron A5-2 -- Brentrup A4C -- 1915 Frank Merwin Ashley violin -- Huss & Dalton DS -- 1939 Gibson L-00 -- 1936 Epiphone Deluxe -- 1928 Gibson L-5 -- 1937 Gibson L-Century -- ca. 1890s Fairbanks Senator Banjo -- ca. 1923 Vega Style M tenor banjo -- ca. 1920 Weymann Style 25 Mandolin-Banjo -- National RM-1

  8. The following members say thank you to Jim Garber for this post:

    Jacqke 

  9. #6
    Registered User Jacqke's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Gillette, Wyoming, USA
    Posts
    97

    Default Re: Derr mandolin, Toledo

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    BTW I doubt that the bowlback you have would have been sold in his store later than the teens. I am pretty sure he would have been selling flatbacks like the one that Elderly sold and like those pictured in the 1937 band photo.
    Thanks. I was wondering how late these might have been likely sold. I checked census records and found him listed consistently as a music teacher in Toledo starting in 1903, through 1940. Perhaps he had a few instruments for student to use. I notice a few bowlbacks in the picture, in a case behind the band.

    I am not sure if he ever had a store; I think he was teaching out of his residence, based on city directories.

  10. #7
    Registered User Jacqke's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Gillette, Wyoming, USA
    Posts
    97

    Default Re: Derr mandolin, Toledo

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    It looks to me to be made for Derr by Lyon & Healy. They probably asked for a mix of features like the custom headstock inlay and slightly fancier fretboard markers for a student-grade model. See similar (but not exactly) ones on this color page from my 1912 L&H catalog. And some specs for those models.
    I like the Lyon and Healy possibility. I have a “student conservatory” version, with 15 ribs. The Derr has nine, comparable to a lower end instrument(?) My Lyon and Healy has been partially restored at least once. There were a couple details to compare. The two are almost identical in length, with headstocks the same shape. The Lyon and Healy headstock is wider. Hardware on the bottom is different, but maybe an indicator? Derr has engraving, “Pat Mar 10 91”.

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	5C9CF96F-B7D8-4979-B088-0D7FB8303005.jpg 
Views:	8 
Size:	466.3 KB 
ID:	180617Click image for larger version. 

Name:	63D77BFF-E966-4042-AD58-463EA446F1C8.jpg 
Views:	2 
Size:	254.1 KB 
ID:	180618Click image for larger version. 

Name:	ADD440CF-5392-4863-BF8D-8509A34E0594.jpg 
Views:	1 
Size:	307.7 KB 
ID:	180619Click image for larger version. 

Name:	B8DD9D2A-40FE-4085-8D6D-18AC36951574.jpg 
Views:	3 
Size:	759.0 KB 
ID:	180620

    Mine is missing the cover on the tail, but this other Derr (with different pickguard) does show one possible type.
    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	60D391D3-0FD7-4546-8F3A-051DE70C2AB5.jpeg 
Views:	13 
Size:	20.9 KB 
ID:	180621

  11. #8
    Registered User Jacqke's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Gillette, Wyoming, USA
    Posts
    97

    Default Re: Derr mandolin, Toledo

    Found an advertisement in which William J. Derr and his brother Charles B. Derr advertised as dealers in stringed instruments, Toledo, Ohio, 1925 city directory.

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	489C7286-50EB-41FC-B831-F6D28AF1F849.jpeg 
Views:	5 
Size:	52.7 KB 
ID:	180673

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •