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Thread: Help Identifying Mandolin

  1. #1

    Default Help Identifying Mandolin

    This past Christmas I was gifted my great grandmother's mandolin. I've been unable to locate any Maker's Mark or serial number or anything to help my identity it with my limited knowledge.
    Would anybody happen know anything about it or where I may find more information?
    Thank you!
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  2. #2
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help Identifying Mandolin

    It was made in the US, probably in Chicago sometime after 1900 and before 1920 or so. The number of staves on the back and the tailpiece identify it as a student grade model. It looks to be in excellent condition but we'd need to see a side shot of the fingerboard where it meets the body to see if it's playable. One of our resident bowlheads should be along soon that could possibly tie it to a manufacturer. It will be the headstock shape, the pickguard and possibly the bowl shape that will get that. If we're lucky Jim Garber will have a catalog picture that will correspond to the model. This is probably the best place to find out about it.

    As far as it being unmarked, most of the manufacturers built instruments "for the trade" without labels so that retailers, music schools, and teachers could sell them as their own brands. You'll find some with stick on labels but most are simply unlabelled. Some of these were sold by early catalog retailers like Sears Roebuck and Montgomery Ward without labels as well.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Help Identifying Mandolin

    The "razor edge" style to the headstock- a complete absence of any shaping is interesting. It also adds to the fact that this is not an expensive instrument. I am sure I have seen that headstock shape before but cannot place it. Chicago would seem to be the most likely birthplace for this instrument.

  4. #4
    Full Grown and Cussin' brunello97's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help Identifying Mandolin

    Always been partial to this "brushstache" style scratchplate, too.

    Very nice Christmas gift, Eliza. Thanks for sharing.

    From your GGF? Might we ask when she might have been playing the instrument?

    Do you think she got it new?

    Mick
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  5. #5

    Default Re: Help Identifying Mandolin

    Thank you so much everyone for the information!! It is greatly appreciated. I'll include a photo of the side to see if y'all can tell if it will be playable

    And from what I was told she would have been playing it around 1910s... But no idea on if she purchased it new or not. She was in the Great Lakes region, so Chicago was not too far off
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