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Thread: 1940s/50s Leo Master Mandolin- United of NJ?

  1. #1

    Default 1940s/50s Leo Master Mandolin- United of NJ?

    I posted up an unbranded mandolin recently that I thought was made by United. This one is branded as Leo Master and the United made resonator mandolins were sold under this brand- there's one on eBay right now- mistakenly attributed to Harmony and pitched at a ridiculous price. I don't know if Leo Master is another Peter Sorkin brand- it may well be one. This is a cheap mandolin but it is all there. You see this shape of pickguard for sale from time to time- now I know where they come from!

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/Vintage-Leo...8AAOSwiiZepGnx

  2. #2
    Registered User nmiller's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1940s/50s Leo Master Mandolin- United of NJ?

    Yup, looks like a United product to me. I have a Sorkin catalog from the late '50s showing a Leo Master banjo; an identical mandolin is in there too, but it's listed as the Blue Comet model 500.
    www.OldFrets.com: the obscure side of vintage instruments.

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    Registered User mandolinstew's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1940s/50s Leo Master Mandolin- United of NJ?

    The decals are different from the banjos.The shape is different and the lettering is not in right direction on the mandolins.Maybe someone had these decals and put them on.

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    Registered User nmiller's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1940s/50s Leo Master Mandolin- United of NJ?

    There were several different decals used on the banjos, one of which was identical to the one on this mandolin.
    www.OldFrets.com: the obscure side of vintage instruments.

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    Registered User mandolinstew's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1940s/50s Leo Master Mandolin- United of NJ?

    Ahhhhh.There goes that theory

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    Registered User mandolinstew's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1940s/50s Leo Master Mandolin- United of NJ?

    Who was Leo Master?

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    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1940s/50s Leo Master Mandolin- United of NJ?

    Here's an old Banjo Hangout thread that's fairly informative regarding the "Leo Master" trademark. There are several threads regarding Leo Master banjos; the connection with United Guitar Co., who bought some of the bankrupt Oscar Schmidt facility in 1939, is clear, but some of the later Leo Master banjos look like the inexpensive Chicago-built Kay and Harmony instruments that were sold through the 1960's. Apparently their banjos covered a really wide range, from pro-quality instruments to "cheapos" that go for maybe $150-200 now.

    Note the speculation of some connection to William Leo Lange, of Paramount banjo fame. No proof offered, just a name similarity, but if Lange had anything to do with the Leo Master banjo line, there might be some good instruments with that label. There's a Leo Master mandolin on Reverb that's another example of the Beltone/Blue Comet style "resonator" mandolins, which would imply a Sorkin brand as well (recent Cafe thread on the subject).
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    Default Re: 1940s/50s Leo Master Mandolin- United of NJ?

    Quote Originally Posted by mandolinstew View Post
    Who was Leo Master?
    Possibly a friend of Kel Kroydon. Nobody knows where that came from either.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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