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Thread: Pollman mandolin banjo

  1. #1
    Registered User Ranald's Avatar
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    Default Pollman mandolin banjo

    Here's an interesting one that I haven't seen before, a mandolin banjo played by David Eugene Edwards that I would have taken for a mandola -- is there a difference? Edwards describes it at about 4:25 as a "Pullman made by the Pullman train company" but a bit of internet research shows me that would be a "Pollman" made by luthier August Pollman. (Clearly, I'm spending a lot of time with music on the internet -- too much?)

    If links don't work, search YouTube for "Woven Hand: NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert."
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zSfh...ature=youtu.be



    Here's one that was sold. I'll copy the photos and description in case the ad disappears.

    https://www.12fret.com/sold/1890s-au...ndoline-banjo/

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    ad description:
    Towards the end of the 19th century and at the start of the 20th, mandolins became very popular in North America, likely due to European immigrants bringing their musical styles with them. As a result, there was a great increase in the construction of these instruments and this led to many innovations – including Orville Gibson’s radical blend of violin and mandolin principles in the Gibson A and F style mandolins.
    August Pollmann was a musical equipment distributor in New York in the late 1800’s. Distrubutors then, as now, contracted with builders to produce instruments to meet market trends. This instrument, the August Pollmann Royal Mandoline Banjo, was likely built by Pehr Anderberg, a Swedish guitar builder who had immigrated to the US in the Civil War era. His shop was in Boston, and he also built instruments for the Haynes company.
    This 1890s August Pollmann Royal Mandoline Banjo is a blend of at least two instruments. Strung like a 5-string banjo, it has the body size of a mandolin. Mandolins at that time often had European-traditional bowl backs, so the body construction is more like a mandola. This specific example uses mahogany for the back and sides; other Pollmanns feature Brazilian rosewood.
    The instrument is in good playing order. It’s had a few repairs over the years but has been solidly repaired, and it sounds quite good.
    Serial Number N/A, but dates to the 1890’s and probably built at the Pehr Anderberg shop in Boston, Massachusetts, USA.
    Pricing $750.00 CAD with non-orignal case. SOLD
    Neck Mahogany neck with Brazilian rosewood fingerboard. 23.75 inch scale length, 1.25 inch nut width. Celluloid badge on headstock, with engraving reading ‘August Pollmann’s Royal Mandoline Banjo’. The neck has a pronounced V-profile. 5th string tuner at the 5th fret.
    Frets Tang-type narrow frets with minor wear.
    Body Teardrop shape body with mahogany back and sides, spruce top. The top has an inlay between the soundhole and bridge, characteristic of European bowl-back mandolins. The top has three transverse braces; the back also has three with one bearing a brand reading ‘PAT MAY 3rd 1887’. The top has maple binding with purfling.
    Finish Original natural varnish finish in reasonable condition.
    Hardware/electronics Original banjo-style friction tuners marked ‘PAT MAY 8.88’. Ebony bridge with fretwire saddle. The tailpiece reads ‘WM. GERKE PROV. R.I’ and ‘PAT’D Jan 31 1888’
    Playability/Action Plays nicely. It’s light and compact, and has an open, airy sound, perhaps reminiscent of a dulcimer.
    Case Non-original case included.
    Robert Johnson's mother, describing blues musicians:
    "I never did have no trouble with him until he got big enough to be round with bigger boys and off from home. Then he used to follow all these harp blowers, mandoleen (sic) and guitar players."
    Lomax, Alan, The Land where The Blues Began, NY: Pantheon, 1993, p.14.

  2. #2
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pollman mandolin banjo

    I have one of those, marked "mandoline banjo"; a flat-back mandola body with a five-string banjo neck. Similar to what Gold Tone now sells as a "banjola," but theirs has modern geared pegs. The description above is very detailed, and, as far as I can tell, accurate. Pollman marketed basically the same body with four, five, and six-string necks. Mine has the same markings as the one described, including the patent date, but has plain dot MOP fingerboard inlays, a less elaborate tailpiece, and simpler pickguard inlay; clearly a lower model.

    I use it mostly for historical programs, and not too often. If I want the "wooden banjo" sound, I usually use the Gold Tone banjola.
    Allen Hopkins
    Gibsn: '54 F5 3pt F2 A-N Custm K1 m'cello
    Natl Triolian Dobro mando
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    H-O mandolinetto
    Stradolin Vega banjolin
    Sobell'dola Washburn b-back'dola
    Eastmn: 615'dola 805 m'cello
    Flatiron 3K OM

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