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Thread: Help ID approx date on L&H bowlback?

  1. #1

    Default Help ID approx date on L&H bowlback?

    Hi everyone,

    Iím a newbie here and to mandolins in general but am really excited to join and learn. Seems like a great group of folks here. I just acquired an L&H bowlback and am wondering if anyone can determine a rough date range for it. And any other info for that matter.

    It has 20 staves ( if youíre supposed to count the partial/end ones, 18 if not). And it has 18 frets. I can post any photos that will help but Iíll start with a couple general shots and a shot of the label. (And Iíll add those as soon as I figure out how!)

    Thanks in advance!
    FOTD

  2. #2

    Default Re: Help ID approx date on L&H bowlback?

    Aha, went to the full site and found the photo button.

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  3. #3

    Default Re: Help ID approx date on L&H bowlback?

    At a guess, early 1900s. However, as we cannot see the front of the headstock or the fingerboard, then there may be more to go on for a more exact ID as there will be more detail there. Here is one on ebay- the seller states 1890s. You can see the detail on the board. Seeing this may help identify it in the Washburn book.

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/Lyon-Healy-...UAAOSwB1ddgquc

  4. #4

    Default Re: Help ID approx date on L&H bowlback?

    Thanks for the info. Here are a couple more photos.

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  5. #5

    Default Re: Help ID approx date on L&H bowlback?

    It looks a lot like a style 220- made from 1905 onward. It is not identical to the one in the book- which has an extra inlay in the board and an engraved coverplate to the tuners and an engraved crown shaped tailpiece cover. That may mean your instrument is a few years newer- or was sold by a third party with a few less frills and no name- if it does not have Washburn engraved on the plate. The 220 has 15 ribs which may be the same as your mandolin's bowl.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Help ID approx date on L&H bowlback?

    Here is a style 215- it has a crown shaped tailpiece cover- but the tuners are not enclosed- and less ribs with dot markers.

    https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Washburn-....c100005.m1851

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Help ID approx date on L&H bowlback?

    It looks like it is in pretty decent condition. You will want to use only ultralight strings on it, as heavier strings will likely damage the instrument. You will also likely want to sign up for the pick sampler (over on the General Mandolin Discussion forum) so you can experiment and see what picks sound best with your instrument. I happen to love bowlbacks, enjoy!

  8. #8

    Default Re: Help ID approx date on L&H bowlback?

    Thanks again for the info. Is there a way to tell if the strings are ultralight (string diameter?)? They look fairly new and I’d rather leave them if possible. Of course, taking care of the instrument is the number one priority, so I’ll change them if needed.

    As for more info: here is a picture of the tail cover. I saw one listed on reverb with the exact same cover and a comment that it may not be original. I don’t know if it is or isn’t. The mandolins themselves also look identical which would seem like a big coincidence that they both got the same replacement cover. Maybe not.

    Thanks again.

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  9. #9
    Full Grown and Cussin' brunello97's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help ID approx date on L&H bowlback?

    Quote Originally Posted by Friend of the Devil View Post
    Thanks again for the info. Is there a way to tell if the strings are ultralight (string diameter?)? They look fairly new and I’d rather leave them if possible. Of course, taking care of the instrument is the number one priority, so I’ll change them if needed.

    As for more info: here is a picture of the tail cover. I saw one listed on reverb with the exact same cover and a comment that it may not be original. I don’t know if it is or isn’t. The mandolins themselves also look identical which would seem like a big coincidence that they both got the same replacement cover. Maybe not.

    Thanks again.

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    Don't even risk it if you don't know about the strings. You can get a extra light set from Just Strings or Big City strings for ~$5. Lady S is right. Too many bowls have been ruined by "new strings" put on without understanding.

    My hunch is that it is a replacement cover on the tailpiece, too. L+H typically used a their own style cover on their work, particularly on the Washburns and American Convservatory. They get loose and can get lost.

    The bean shaped ones were also very commonly used by others so the coincidence of two mandolins both having them shouldn't be considered odd. It's a replacement bridge, too, so someone might have added parts + strings to make it "whole" again.

    They made a lot of mandolins for a lot of different labels so anything is possible. I wouldn't sweat the "authenticity / originality" issue too much. There are still hundreds if not thousands of these still in circulation and still very playable.

    We're serious about the strings, though..... don't even think about risking it.

    Mick
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  10. #10
    Registered User DoubleE's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help ID approx date on L&H bowlback?

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    L&H used this style of tailpiece on some of their College Line instruments (1905-08)
    It was advertised as a “combined hinged wrist-rest and tail-piece.” Not sure if your mando is a college line, but it’s a possibility.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Help ID approx date on L&H bowlback?

    Roger that regarding the strings. I wasnít trying to be cheap, it was more that I havenít restrung a mandolin ever, and didnít want unnecessary wear and tear. But Iím sure I can figure it out (Iíve restrung guitars) and sure donít want to ruin the instrument itself!

    Regarding L+H, when they built for another label, did they still put their label inside? (See the bottom photo of the original post.)

    Iím giving it to my wife as a gift because it is very similar to one her grandma is playing in an old photo. So weíre not likely going to sell it ever, and thus Iím not hyper concerned about the authenticity etc. but it would be nice to know what it is and when itís from, just for conversation.

    Thanks!

  12. #12
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help ID approx date on L&H bowlback?

    Your instrument was sold as a Lyon and Healy product. Unfortunately very few bowlbacks have a great monetary value. Lyon and Healy made a whole lot of them. Enjoy the instrument and don't fret the originality or the value. It's give or take 1900, a little more or a little less.

    There is a book that was written by a Cafe Member Hubert Pleijsier about the Washburn brand. That was Lyon and Healy's premium label (this isn't one) but it contains a whole lot of information about their bowlbacks and the company. Give her the book too.

    History of Washburn Guitar: Pre-War Instruments Styles, Guitars, Mandolins, Banjos and Ukuleles 1883-1940
    Last edited by MikeEdgerton; Nov-22-2019 at 4:39pm.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  13. #13

    Default Re: Help ID approx date on L&H bowlback?

    Sounds good, thanks. For what it’s worth, here’s Grandma!

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  15. #14

    Default Re: Help ID approx date on L&H bowlback?

    That's a great photo of your grandmother!

    With regard to the tailpiece, the cover may be a replacement but if your mandolin originally had a hinged tailpiece it would probably still have it- as unless it broke, you cannot lose the top- it is one unit. You see those hinged tailpieces on 1890s made instruments. Your mandolin is newer than that- I am not sure if the hinged style was still used at that time. Here is one that sold for $25 on ebay in October.

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  16. #15
    Registered User DoubleE's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help ID approx date on L&H bowlback?

    Quote Originally Posted by NickR View Post
    With regard to the tailpiece, the cover may be a replacement but if your mandolin originally had a hinged tailpiece it would probably still have it- as unless it broke, you cannot lose the top- it is one unit. You see those hinged tailpieces on 1890s made instruments. Your mandolin is newer than that- I am not sure if the hinged style was still used at that time. Here is one that sold for $25 on ebay in October.

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    Thanks Nick, I see now that the OPís tailpiece is a slider, a bit of an oversight on my part.

    There is a picture of a L&H ad from 1905 on page 18 of Hubertís book that shows and mentions use of the hinged wrist rest tailpiece.

  17. #16
    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help ID approx date on L&H bowlback?

    Quote Originally Posted by Friend of the Devil View Post
    Sounds good, thanks. For what it’s worth, here’s Grandma!

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Love this picture of her grandma!

    Let me encourage you to post it in another thread here titled "Women with Mandolins", https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/t...with-Mandolins
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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help ID approx date on L&H bowlback?

    The 220 and 215 were Washburn-branded instruments. Until the carved lettered series (A-G) Lyon & Healy was one of the lesser lines and this one is closer to the American Conservatory line, perhaps close to style 602. That headstock seems to be from circa 1915. The bridge on the OP's instrument is a modern replacement. The American Conservatory mandolins did have that type of tailpiece cover.

    Here's one page from the American Conservatory section of my ca. 1912 catalog. Headstock is different which is why I think it may be a few years later. L&H contantaly changed style, names, serial numbers, probably in 0rder to confuse all of us.
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