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Thread: Help with identifying mandolin

  1. #1

    Default Help with identifying mandolin

    Hi - we have been given this Harmony mandolin in very good condition and if possible would like some info on it: model, age, value, etc.

    Any help appreciated - thank you in advance!

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  2. #2
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help with identifying mandolin

    The Harmony company that was building instruments in Chicago from around 1900 ceased operating in 1975. Later in the 70's the brand name was sold to a company to use on imported instruments. This instrument in from that era sometime between the late 70's and the early 90's. My guess would be that it was made in Japan but without seeing all of it that is hard to say. The value is perhaps one hundred dollars if you get the right buyer on the right day, maybe up to $200.00, not a lot more. There aren't a whole lot of these floating around but scarcity doesn't equate to value. Can you post a picture of the tuners on the back side of the headstock?

    As far as design and execution it isn't real stellar from what is showing. The scroll on the body and on the headstock are pretty bad.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Help with identifying mandolin

    Thank you Mike, that is helpful - I will post additional pics as soon as I am able to take some.

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    Default Re: Help with identifying mandolin

    Not quite sure where the o/p is located Mike. Given the name they’re posting under, I suspect the UK - not sure if you have Oxfam shops in the US? There may well be a difference in value between the UK and US.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Help with identifying mandolin

    I don't know anything specific on this mandolin. But, in 1983 I met a man in Columbus, Ohio who was some kind of field representative for Harmony and made regular trips to Chicago to make reports, etc. So, as of 1983, they still kept some kind of Chicago office, even though all manufacturing was being done overseas. Anyway, he was very interested in an old Harmony Rocket guitar I had and he wanted to show it to his boss in Chicago, for whatever reason. I let him borrow it and he gave me a brand new Harmony dreadnought guitar with an undersaddle pickup (a fairly new concept at the time) for my trouble -- a nice enough guitar, nothing special, but I remember it having the same logo as this mandolin.....Harmony with est. 1892 underneath, FWIW.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Help with identifying mandolin

    Just to back up Mike's comment, the close-up of the headstock clearly shows a super-thick & super-glossy (polyester?) finish, a hallmark of such instruments.
    - Ed

    "What our group lacks in musicianship is offset by our willingness to humiliate ourselves." - David Hochman

  7. #7
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help with identifying mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by Ray(T) View Post
    Not quite sure where the o/p is located Mike. Given the name they’re posting under, I suspect the UK - not sure if you have Oxfam shops in the US? There may well be a difference in value between the UK and US.
    If someone in the UK wants to pay a premium for one of these they can probably do a whole lot better with some of your local import brands.

    By the way, it looks like a wonderful organization.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxfam
    Last edited by MikeEdgerton; Feb-13-2020 at 12:54pm.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  8. #8
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help with identifying mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Mando View Post
    I don't know anything specific on this mandolin. But, in 1983 I met a man in Columbus, Ohio who was some kind of field representative for Harmony and made regular trips to Chicago to make reports, etc. So, as of 1983, they still kept some kind of Chicago office, even though all manufacturing was being done overseas. Anyway, he was very interested in an old Harmony Rocket guitar I had and he wanted to show it to his boss in Chicago, for whatever reason. I let him borrow it and he gave me a brand new Harmony dreadnought guitar with an undersaddle pickup (a fairly new concept at the time) for my trouble -- a nice enough guitar, nothing special, but I remember it having the same logo as this mandolin.....Harmony with est. 1892 underneath, FWIW.
    The real Harmony was gone well before that. The company might have been in Chicago, the only connection was the name. I'll note they also imported a batwing model. They obviously bought what they thought they could sell. The brand was bought again in the early 2000's by yet another company that is importing instruments.

    By the way, that top looks like it's flat.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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  10. #9
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help with identifying mandolin

    Anybody interested in a nice read about the history of the real Harmony company should take a look at this:

    https://www.madeinchicagomuseum.com/...armony-company
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Default Re: Help with identifying mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post
    If someone in the UK wants to pay a premium for one of these they can probably do a whole lot better with some of your local import brands.

    By the way, it looks like a wonderful organization.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxfam
    Looks like Oxfam does have a presence in the US. I said what I did because the relative scarcity of instruments in the UK tend to mean higer prices that the US. Also, Oxfam operate a series of what are called “Charity Shops” and, in general, their prices tend to be higher than those run by other organisations; presumably because their clientele are prepared to pay more.

  13. #11

    Default Re: Help with identifying mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post
    The Harmony company that was building instruments in Chicago from around 1900 ceased operating in 1975. Later in the 70's the brand name was sold to a company to use on imported instruments. This instrument in from that era sometime between the late 70's and the early 90's. My guess would be that it was made in Japan but without seeing all of it that is hard to say. The value is perhaps one hundred dollars if you get the right buyer on the right day, maybe up to $200.00, not a lot more. There aren't a whole lot of these floating around but scarcity doesn't equate to value. Can you post a picture of the tuners on the back side of the headstock?

    As far as design and execution it isn't real stellar from what is showing. The scroll on the body and on the headstock are pretty bad.
    Many thanks to everyone for the feedback. We are indeed an Oxfam Charity shop situated in the U.K. in the retail trading wing of Oxfam. We sell books and music. As such we receive donated items which we sort and resell helping to support Oxfam's worldwide programmes of poverty relief. Periodically we receive donations of items that potentially fetch very high prices but identifying these often requires specialist knowledge which individual shops lack. Pricing correctly is important to us as we do not want to either under- or over-charge. I had suspected this mandolin may not be anything special due to the absence of proper identifying marks (no visible stamp inside), but would appreciate help valuing it for resale at the right pricing level. Additional pics attached.

    Thank you!
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  14. #12

    Default Re: Help with identifying mandolin

    The mandolin is probably Korean or Japanese and is a copy of a Gibson F series mandolin. In this respect, it is one of many with various brand names that have been sold over the decades. It looks like a nice instrument but as to its build quality and tone etc that would only be ascertained by inspecting the mandolin but it looks fine in the photos. As for the Harmony name, as has been mentioned it has no bearing on its value. After the Harmony name was resurrected, some of the instruments sold did look like models made by the original company but were only superficially similar. What you have is quite a nice copy of a Gibson mandolin made in the far east. As to its build quality, it is hard to comment but it will be solid and well made but not necessarily an expensive instrument- after all it was sold by those who were using the Harmony name and was factory- not craftsman made. My suggestion would be to spend some time looking for F style mandolins sold or currently for sale on ebay in the UK and make a judgement on your opening bid level. It has a case- that's a bonus and if a couple of bidders really want it that could elevate its final bid price. Here is an Ibanez which is made in China- I would reckon it to be newer than your mandolin by 15 or 20 years. It has a soft case. I have not read the blurb. I do advise a branch of Debra which sells most of the charity's instruments. A few do go on to ebay but most are cheap learner guitars. Your mandolin is not a rare gem but it is a reasonable instrument.

    https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Ibanez-F-...p2047675.l2557

    Here is a Harmony branded mandolin- probably very similar to yours sold in the USA:

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/Harmony-M28...p2047675.l2557
    Last edited by NickR; Feb-14-2020 at 7:41am.

  15. #13
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help with identifying mandolin

    It's really an F5 shaped object. The back and top appear to be flat on the OP and the one that sold on eBay. It matches well with the newer Ibanez. It also matches well with this:

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/Savannah-F-...p2047675.l2557

    Again, to the right person you might get a little more but it is what it is. If folks are willing to pay more because it's for a good cause then that has to be taken into account. It's still in that same ball park.

    The case is interesting as it's either a really well made homemade case or some brand unique to the UK. Best of luck with the sale.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  16. #14

    Default Re: Help with identifying mandolin

    Many thanks for the help - much appreciated. At least we now have a good idea of where to pitch the price and hopefully someone will bite!

  17. #15
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    Default Re: Help with identifying mandolin

    Just out of interest, where in the UK are you planning to sell it?

  18. #16

    Default Re: Help with identifying mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by Ray(T) View Post
    Just out of interest, where in the UK are you planning to sell it?
    Ray we're in Nottingham...

  19. #17
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    Default Re: Help with identifying mandolin

    Unfortunately, I’m on the opposite side of the Peak District otherwise I’d have called in and given it the once over for you.

  20. #18

    Default Re: Help with identifying mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by Ray(T) View Post
    Unfortunately, I’m on the opposite side of the Peak District otherwise I’d have called in and given it the once over for you.
    A kind thought - thank you!

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