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Thread: Hoping for some help with maker's mark

  1. #1
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    Default Hoping for some help with maker's mark

    I have a bowl back mandolin with a partial maker's brand stamped on the upper left next to the sound hole. If I had a better idea of the names of makers back in the day, (or I could buy another vowel or two) I might be able to figure it out. I am hoping someone with more knowledge might recognize it from what is there.

    Thanks in advance for any help you can give me. I'm going to try uploading pictures but this is my first post so we'll see how that goes.
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  2. #2

    Default Re: Hoping for some help with maker's mark

    I don't know if it is a pre-Revolution Russian mandolin. The big firm in St Petersburg was Zimmerman which was taken over by the state after the Revolution. I cannot discern the writing- whether it be in Latin or Cyrillic script. The company also set up in Leipzig, Germany. Here is one of their catalogues. I would imagine that the instruments were made in the St Petersburg factory:

    https://www.worthpoint.com/worthoped...ment-483635417

    Here is the company history: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zimmermann_(publisher)

    Your mandolin may not be made by Zimmerman but it appears to be European and somewhat atypical.

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    Default Re: Hoping for some help with maker's mark

    Thanks for this information Nick. I hadn’t considered that the script could be something other than Latin which opens up a whole new ballgame, and I hadn’t known about Zimmerman instruments. I’m looking forward now to see what else I can learn about this.

    I found the mandolin in a large rundown warehouse type antique shop in Belgium. It probably sounds kind of silly but there is something about old mandolins. I know most of them aren’t worth a lot (I bought it for 30 euros) but given the condition of the frets, this one was played a lot...so it was kind of important to someone and was probably enjoyed by others that heard it played. Given living conditions back in the day I imagine a mandolin in the house could be kind of a big deal. I find it very hard to leave an old mandolin to wallow in a junk shop.

    The bowl is more oblong than a lot of Italian mandolins that I’ve seen and the joint between the neck and head is a bit different too. The pick guard is wood. It’s missing a tuner post and saddle and has two small cracks but otherwise is in pretty good shape.

    Thanks again for your help

  4. #4
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hoping for some help with maker's mark

    I am not so sure that is Cyrillic type, though possible. The French makers used branding on the tops, usually in that location. That might make sense since you said it was in Belgium. I think I see a paper label in the soundhole. Any chance of posting a photo of it?
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    Default Re: Hoping for some help with maker's mark

    There is no way that script says Zimmerman.
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    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Default Re: Hoping for some help with maker's mark

    Jim...what looks like a label in the photo is actually just the liner and some staining. The liner looks a little like paper bag material.
    I tried taking some better photos:
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  7. #7
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hoping for some help with maker's mark

    The paper lining would be normal. At times they were lined with cloth as well. What we are assuming is a brand name could also be a personal identifier of some sort. That's a little rough.
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    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Default Re: Hoping for some help with maker's mark

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post
    The paper lining would be normal. At times they were lined with cloth as well. What we are assuming is a brand name could also be a personal identifier of some sort. That's a little rough.
    I guess it could be an owner’s name, which would be kind of nice (and even better if I could figure out what it was!).
    Thanks for all of your replies

  9. #9

    Default Re: Hoping for some help with maker's mark

    This is a Mirecourt mandolin with a few similarities but I have to admit as I mentioned in my first post above that this mandolin has some unusual features which do not lend to being able to make an obvious regional fix of its origin. It lacks the typical stylistic devices one associates with the main choices. It may well be the owner's name rather than a maker.

    https://reverb.com/ca/item/10139908-...rt-france-1910

  10. #10
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hoping for some help with maker's mark

    Ok. Here's my best guess and I think I may be close. I think there was some hinting of Mirecourt in the back of my twisted mind, especially with the branding which is similar to a JTL flatback mandolin i have branded Euterpe. However, I believe that the brand on this one reads "La Vésuvienne." I have only one more ornate example of this maker in my files but it also has the uncharacteristic full circular soundhole. These were made or sold in a shop owned by Albert Joseph DeBlaye who worked out of Mirecourt around 1900. In my Henley violin book he has a detailed listing more relevant to violin-family instruments, but at one point says, "Round mandolines named "La Vésuvienne" and flat ones styled "Ritelli."

    That is not completely accurate as I have a bowlback branded Ritelli which is less ornate than the La Vésuvienne in my files but resembles the OP's mandolin, similar headstock shape, circular soundhole and painted or stained black neck:

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    Lots more information in French on this page on the Mirecourt Luthiers site.

    I hope that helps.
    Last edited by Jim Garber; Dec-30-2019 at 2:46pm.
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  11. #11

    Default Re: Hoping for some help with maker's mark

    Jim, those tuners do add a lot of weight to a Mirecourt maker as they look just like those on the mandolin in question.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Hoping for some help with maker's mark

    The lack of a symmetrical pickguard should also be an identifier or sorts. My mistake, the fretboard dots are in the same position on both the OP and Jim's example.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  13. #13
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hoping for some help with maker's mark

    Here are some photos of the more ornate La Vésuvienne from my files (this was a French eBay auction from 2007). No brand on this one, though. However, in the third photo you get a glimpse of the butt-end which does resemble the OP's.
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    Default Re: Hoping for some help with maker's mark

    Thanks to all of you for this information! The name of the town, a link to the shop...this is great. Knowing what to be looking for, the inscription does look to read La Vesuvienne and the similarities in the photos match up as well. I’m glad to see photos of the saddle from your files Jim. I was wondering what the original might have looked like.
    I’m going to try to find a tuner post, make a nut and saddle and put this mandolin back together.
    Thank you for taking the time to help figure this out.

    Jack

  15. #15
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hoping for some help with maker's mark

    Many of us bowlheads have an obsession with doing vintage instrument detective work. Glad to be of service. Post here when it is restored.

    Here is a closeup of what the brand should look like:

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    Jim

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