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Thread: Any ideas regarding manufacturer and age of this Mandolin?

  1. #1

    Default Any ideas regarding manufacturer and age of this Mandolin?

    Hi everyone ... thanks for the add to the group.

    Iím not a mandolin player, but I have a very old mandolin that I would appreciate some help identifying?

    It has a round back, with the body strips (11, excluding the solid piece wrapped around the top) interleaved with contrasting wood strips between each one.

    No name on the headstock nor inside the body cavity.

    Top is bound and has a herringbone design next to the binding, and the sound hole is also bound, with both dotted and herringbone designs.

    The bridge is missing, but looks to my untrained guitar player eyes like it may have been a narrow strip of wood.

    Inlays appear to be mother-of-pearl.

    Attached are some pictures for your reference.

    Any info would be appreciated.

    Itís been in my family for at least 60 years - as long as Iíve been alive - but no idea what itís actual age is unfortunately.


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  2. #2

    Default Re: Any ideas regarding manufacturer and age of this Mandolin?

    It looks to be 1890s or early 1900s. It may be a Lyon & Healy American Conservatory branded instrument or it might be made by Regal. AC was a less expensive brand than the company's Washburn instruments. It may have been sold by a third party. Here is one- it is not identical but it has similar tuners- it is a more expensive instrument- more staves and fancy pickguard. It still has the tailpiece cover on it and is possibly a bit newer, as well.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Any ideas regarding manufacturer and age of this Mandolin?

    Here is a woebegone example that has exactly the same tuners- or what is left of them. Lyon & Healy had another brand called Lakeside that was even less expensive. Have a trawl through the completed section of eBay for American Conservatory- it's where this one appeared- there are others.

    Here's another- same dot markers but we don't see the tuners:

  4. #4

    Default Re: Any ideas regarding manufacturer and age of this Mandolin?

    I think you may be correct on the maker. Although, as you pointed out, the binding and pickguard are definitely nicer, the first one you posted has a direct match in a number of areas: headstock and tuners, body - interleaved strips plus the peak on the sides of the rounded piece that mates to the soundboard - as well as the shape of the pickguard. Odd though that both those examples show 3 fretboard markers where mine has four, like the third example.

    Now if I can figure out an age for this dinosaur.

  5. #5
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Mar 2007
    40.1646į N, 74.2083į W

    Default Re: Any ideas regarding manufacturer and age of this Mandolin?

    It's a turn of the century (a little before or after 1900) Lyon and Healy built entry level mandolin. It was built for the trade to be sold by a retailer, school, or teacher as their own. Thousands of instruments were built without labels. The number of dots doesn't point to anything specific, it was just how it was ordered. The decor was readily available from jobbers and probably used by other builders as well. Barring finding an exact and very detailed catalog page you probably won't get much closer than that. These are not that unusual. It's worth more as a family heirloom. Have someone that knows mandolins set it up and replace with parts that are close and play it. That's where the real enjoyment should come in.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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