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Thread: Where in Chicagoland did this one come from?

  1. #1
    Registered User nmiller's Avatar
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    Default Where in Chicagoland did this one come from?

    It's a Howard mandolin, distributed by Wurlitzer. It was previously tentatively identified as a Lyon & Healy, but a few details such as the headstock shape & inlay, the heel design, the volute and the hardware lead me to think it was made by someone else. It's definitely not a Larson, and I'm confident that I can rule out Regal as well.

    I'm leaning toward Harmony for a few reasons. First, whoever built it also built mandolins for Supertone; there are a bunch of Supertones which are less fancy but structurally identical to this mando. Second, although Harmony usually didn't have the back cover the heel, the rounded shape of the heel looks like their work. Third, they loved that snowflake inlay. But, I am open to persuasion.

    Regardless of the factory, it's a very nice instrument. Aside from a little warping of the top and some kickup at the end of the fretboard, it's quite playable. I've tuned it down to F and may keep it there, partly to relieve the stress on the instrument and partly because it has surprisingly nice bass in that tuning. The bridge has been shimmed, and I think the fret markers have been re-inked just because they're so clean, but otherwise it appears to be all original.

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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Where in Chicagoland did this one come from?

    Quote Originally Posted by nmiller View Post
    It's a Howard mandolin, distributed by Wurlitzer. It was previously tentatively identified as a Lyon & Healy, but a few details such as the headstock shape & inlay, the heel design, the volute and the hardware lead me to think it was made by someone else. It's definitely not a Larson, and I'm confident that I can rule out Regal as well.

    I'm leaning toward Harmony for a few reasons. First, whoever built it also built mandolins for Supertone; there are a bunch of Supertones which are less fancy but structurally identical to this mando. Second, although Harmony usually didn't have the back cover the heel, the rounded shape of the heel looks like their work. Third, they loved that snowflake inlay. But, I am open to persuasion.

    Regardless of the factory, it's a very nice instrument. Aside from a little warping of the top and some kickup at the end of the fretboard, it's quite playable. I've tuned it down to F and may keep it there, partly to relieve the stress on the instrument and partly because it has surprisingly nice bass in that tuning. The bridge has been shimmed, and I think the fret markers have been re-inked just because they're so clean, but otherwise it appears to be all original.

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    The pickguard shape looks like a Harmony. The snowflake was a common inlay on the Shutt style Harmony as well. Oscar Schmidt also built Supertone guitars (at least) so I'm assuming they could have built mandolins as well. The headstock and pickguard don't look Schmidtish to me. Then again that volute doesn't look like anything I've seen from anybody.
    Last edited by MikeEdgerton; Jan-14-2020 at 8:02pm.
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  3. #3
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Where in Chicagoland did this one come from?

    Then you see this and wonder.
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    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  4. #4
    Registered User nmiller's Avatar
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    Default Re: Where in Chicagoland did this one come from?

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post
    The pickguard shape looks like a Harmony. The snowflake was a common inlay on the Shutt style Harmony as well. Oscar Schmidt also built Supertone guitars (at least) so I'm assuming they could have built mandolins as well. The headstock and pickguard don't look Schmidtish to me. Then again that volute doesn't look like anything I've seen from anybody.
    Agreed on all of that.

    I've been trying to ID the model; no exact matches, but this model from ca. 1926-7 has approximately the same trim. I suspect my mandolin is earlier because it has the Eugene Howard label that they used in the 1910s, and also because the one in the catalog was branded as a Wurlitzer rather than a Howard, but I figure it gives an approximation of the original price:

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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post
    Then you see this and wonder.
    Wonder what?
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  5. #5
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Where in Chicagoland did this one come from?

    In the Vintage ad social group there seem to be multiple occurrences of a similar body and pickguard style on a catalog page with a known Regal product. Curious.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Default Re: Where in Chicagoland did this one come from?

    A mandolin looking just like this one turned up in a conversation which our OP might remember from back in 2011. Unfortunately, the original image of the mandolin under discussion seems lost.

    At the time, I was still thinking that the Leland mandolins I had might have been made by the Larsons, an opinion which I have fundamentally changed. So please take my nine year old comments in the thread with a HUGE grain of salt.

    Anyhow, in the discussion, I posted for reference a Howard mandolin which looks almost identical to the one in discussion. I'm most taken by the Vega-like headstock-to-neck detail and by the bridge-below-the-cant positioning, also a Vega feature.

    However in NMiller's new pictures it appears the bridge might have been moved back to that position...some marking / discoloration on the top above the cant perhaps from it's original position? Not a lot of space between the scratchplate and the cant.

    The headstock profile does look like the one used by L+H on their Washburn bowls and also on some Oscar Schmidt mandolins from the era. Though the body shape and back-over-neck joint detail doesn't look like OS to me.

    Sammo labeled mandolins often had this detail, but I have no firm idea who made them, and never saw one with this type of headstock either.

    Very interesting mandolin. Harmony might be just the right bet.

    Mick
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  7. #7
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Where in Chicagoland did this one come from?

    That's close, there is a chance that Wurlitzer commissioned the same instrument from different builders as well.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  8. #8
    Registered User nmiller's Avatar
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    Default Re: Where in Chicagoland did this one come from?

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post
    In the Vintage ad social group there seem to be multiple occurrences of a similar body and pickguard style on a catalog page with a known Regal product. Curious.
    I think the other four on that page are indeed Regals, but the 2923 isn't. Even if we're wrong about it being Harmony, the body shape, headstock and tailpiece look like they came from somewhere besides Regal.

    Quote Originally Posted by brunello97 View Post
    A mandolin looking just like this one turned up in a conversation which our OP might remember from back in 2011. Unfortunately, the original image of the mandolin under discussion seems lost.

    At the time, I was still thinking that the Leland mandolins I had might have been made by the Larsons, an opinion which I have fundamentally changed. So please take my nine year old comments in the thread with a HUGE grain of salt.

    Anyhow, in the discussion, I posted for reference a Howard mandolin which looks almost identical to the one in discussion. I'm most taken by the Vega-like headstock-to-neck detail and by the bridge-below-the-cant positioning, also a Vega feature.

    However in NMiller's new pictures it appears the bridge might have been moved back to that position...some marking / discoloration on the top above the cant perhaps from it's original position? Not a lot of space between the scratchplate and the cant.

    The headstock profile does look like the one used by L+H on their Washburn bowls and also on some Oscar Schmidt mandolins from the era. Though the body shape and back-over-neck joint detail doesn't look like OS to me.

    Sammo labeled mandolins often had this detail, but I have no firm idea who made them, and never saw one with this type of headstock either.

    Very interesting mandolin. Harmony might be just the right bet.

    Mick
    Funny, I just re-read that thread the other day after doing a search for Howard mandolins! Also funny you should mention Vega; for a split second, I considered them because the nut has their trademark rounded corners - but nothing else seems to match them. The bridge was indeed moved, but it's currently in the correct spot in terms of intonation.
    www.OldFrets.com: the obscure side of vintage instruments.

  9. #9
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Where in Chicagoland did this one come from?

    Quote Originally Posted by nmiller View Post
    I think the other four on that page are indeed Regals, but the 2923 isn't. Even if we're wrong about it being Harmony, the body shape, headstock and tailpiece look like they came from somewhere besides Regal.



    Funny, I just re-read that thread the other day after doing a search for Howard mandolins! Also funny you should mention Vega; for a split second, I considered them because the nut has their trademark rounded corners - but nothing else seems to match them. The bridge was indeed moved, but it's currently in the correct spot in terms of intonation.
    The other thing that kinda nags at me was I had only seen that tailpiece cover on Regals until I realized they were used on the real Shutt mandolins as well. If it could only talk.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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