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Thread: How Many Loar Era A style mandolins were made of each kind?

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    Default How Many Loar Era A style mandolins were made of each kind?

    I just bought a '23 A1 and have gone around and around trying to value the thing. I see there are numbers for production of the F-5's but no discussion really of just how many A mandolins were made ? I paid $1600 , and it is in fair condition.

  2. #2
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: How Many Loar Era A style mandolins were made of each kind?

    Sounds like you paid retail price assuming fair condition means it needs some work to make it playable.
    Jim

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    Default Re: How Many Loar Era A style mandolins were made of each kind?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    Sounds like you paid retail price assuming fair condition means it needs some work to make it playable.
    Actually it is quite playable and a joy to play, but shows it's age! Yes, you are right, I supported a small music shop in Grand Junction, Colorado , Hart Music which is such a joy to go into. Happy to support them! It's Hard for these shops to stay alive in this economy. My only regret is that I don't really know the history of it, like who owned it for 96 years?

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: How Many Loar Era A style mandolins were made of each kind?

    It is very rare to actually find out provenance for most instruments unless you are talking about rare and expensive violins or unless you buy an instrument directly from the family of the person who owned it. In the latter case though the family sometimes hasn’t a clue when grandad bought it or even if he played it. I have one violin that I know the person who owned it. It is amazing to find out that info but very unlikely.

    Your mandolin was made during the years of a mandolin craze so Gibson probably made hundreds if not thousands of them.
    Jim

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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: How Many Loar Era A style mandolins were made of each kind?

    I don't recall ever seeing any records of the production of A's in that period or any other period for that matter. Joe Spann's book has lists of Factory Order Numbers that you could look through for A models but it's not complete and as far as I know there's no count of how many instruments were built on each FON. As Jim said, there were a whole bunch. There has never been a lack of Gibson A models on eBay weekly. The F5 numbers are pretty much based on the work of a few people that have spent their lives trying to document individual instruments. You could try to estimate from serial numbers but even there you'd have issues.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Default Re: How Many Loar Era A style mandolins were made of each kind?

    So far as I can gather, there are no surviving records of actual production numbers from this period. Any lists we have are estimates, extrapolated from catalog descriptions and known surviving examples. This includes the estimates of the number of signed instruments.

    During this time, most Gibson instruments except for banjos were given both serial numbers and factory order numbers. The banjos [at least usually] had only a factory order number.

    The current serial number list published in Spann's Guide accounts for 5550 instruments with assigned serial numbers between the beginning of 1923 and the end of 1924. At the time, Gibson was producing A and F model mandolins and archtop guitars. We know from observation that more A model mandolins were produced than anything else. Bearing this in mind, the best we can do is to estimate that perhaps 3 or 4 thousand A mandolins were built in 1923 and 1924.

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    Registered User Joe Spann's Avatar
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    Default Re: How Many Loar Era A style mandolins were made of each kind?

    To the best of my knowledge there are no surviving Gibson factory documents with production totals for the year 1923.

    However, I estimate that Gibson produced about 3,000 instruments with serial numbers in 1923. In my own private serial number list I can document about 450 of these (or about 15% of the predicted total). I gathered this information over many decades, and from various sources, (e.g. instruments I have personally inspected, information sent to me, internet websites and original Gibson factory documents). In the 1923 section of my own list, there are 30 A-1 models documented. Therefore, extrapolating from my existing data, I would estimate that Gibson produced about 200 total A-1 model mandolins in the year 1923.

    Not surprisingly, most of their 1923 production capacity seems to have been concentrated in the entry-level models (e.g. A, A-Jr, A-1) and the best sellers (e.g. A-4 and F-4). Taken together, these models accounted for slightly more than 50% of production in the year 1923. All guitar models combined represented only about 10% of production (which accounts for why we don't see many of them). Loar Master Models were about 5 or 6% of production.

    Please remember, these are only estimates, based on a reconstruction of 15% of the original data.

    Joe Spann

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    Default Re: How Many Loar Era A style mandolins were made of each kind?

    Wow Joe, Thank you so much for the info! It is hard to wrap my head around those numbers and imagine what that factory looked like.Certainly it is bigger than the workshop I imagined. Can't wait to check out your book!

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    Registered User Joe Spann's Avatar
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    Default Re: How Many Loar Era A style mandolins were made of each kind?

    By 1923 Gibson had about 75 or 80 employees, and the factory was a large purpose-built structure with 3 floors and an external wood yard and power house.

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    Registered User f5loar's Avatar
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    Default Re: How Many Loar Era A style mandolins were made of each kind?

    Even at 200 A1s for 1923, when you calculate the survivors , I'm guessing only 150 left. They don't come up for sale that often. I would think $1600 for an all original and plays great is a great deal. Monroe had one during his early Monroe Bros. years up until he got his new 1935 F7.

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