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Thread: 1901 Gibson?

  1. #1

    Default 1901 Gibson?

    This is one of the instruments I inherited from my dad. I found a receipt in his records calling it a “1901 Gibson,” but it was handwritten from a private sale. Anybody good at ID’ing old A models?

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  2. #2
    Registered User William Smith's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1901 Gibson?

    Its not a 1901, what is the FON#? There should be a # on the inside neck block or under the label.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: 1901 Gibson?

    That is a model A-4, most likely from the late 1920's or very early 1930's.
    I would like to see a different picture of the front, taken in different light, and also a picture of the back.

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    Default Re: 1901 Gibson?

    The FON will give a better idea of age but is that a serial number beneath the partly removed label?

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    Default Re: 1901 Gibson?

    Right, the sound hole rosette would peg this as an A4 model. It has been refinished and likely modified. The fleur de lis inlay in the headstock is strange.

    Some additional photos along this the FON that Will requested would help us.
    Does the twelfth fret align with the white cross piece in the body? It should. The pictures make it look otherwise. If not, this would indicate the neck or fingerboard have been changed.

    Mark
    Mark Lynch

  6. #6
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    Default Re: 1901 Gibson?

    The fleur de lis inlay is probably the work of Union Pearl Works, who replaced Aumann Brothers Pearl as Gibson's major inlay supplier circa 1930. See Spann's Guide to Gibson, pp. 57 - 60.

    The work of Union Pearl is much heavier and less precise than that of Aumann Brothers. We see a lot of odd variations in inlay shapes during the 1930's.

    There was also a fellow by the name of Howard Goff who made some inlays during the later thirties, but we don't have the exact dates. His work was quite crude. I suppose the fleur de lis could also have been his work, but the A-4 may have been discontinued by the time he came on the scene.

  7. #7
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1901 Gibson?

    I'm through 1929 in the Mandolin Archive and haven't seen a fleur-de-lis that is that rough on any A-4. I haven't been able to find another A yet with the same inlay but there are F models with the fleur-de-lis in the mid to late 30's that look a lot better than that. Still trying to match up an a model.

    I don't know if this search will post but the A4 listings Dan has end in 1931 with a decent inlay.

    http://www.mandolinarchive.com/perl/...andolins.pl?a4
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1901 Gibson?

    Given the rosewood bridge with large thumbwheels, there's a chance it was restored by Gibson in the '50s or '60s and given the sunburst finish along with a new fleur-de-lis.
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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1901 Gibson?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ray(T) View Post
    The FON will give a better idea of age but is that a serial number beneath the partly removed label?
    The serial number is generally but not always written in pencil under the label but he might have to remove the label to get it. The FON is the easier way to go, assuming it's there.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1901 Gibson?

    Quote Originally Posted by mrmando View Post
    Given the rosewood bridge with large thumbwheels, there's a chance it was restored by Gibson in the '50s or '60s and given the sunburst finish along with a new fleur-de-lis.
    Possibly.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  11. #11

    Default Re: 1901 Gibson?

    Thanks guys. I’ll take better photos and find the FON.

  12. #12

    Default Re: 1901 Gibson?

    The number looks like 11122

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  13. #13

    Default Re: 1901 Gibson?

    With a little Googling, the FON says it's a 1918 A4. Seem reasonable?

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    Default Re: 1901 Gibson?

    Chris, thanks for the FON and additional photos. According to Joe Spann’s Gibson book the FON relates to 1918 as you indicate.

    I checked my Gibson collection and found that I have a 1918 A4 from the same 11122 batch! Attached is a photo.
    It has the typical shaded red mahogany finish common to that era. It also has the typical fleur de lis in the headstock, not the more modern looking stylized one on yours. Also note that unlike yours it has no trussrod in the neck, that was not available in 1918.

    It appears that at some point your A4 was re-necked with a modern truss-rod neck and it was refinished in a lighter color. Probably lacquer replaced the earlier varnish finish. Martin’s suggestion based on the rosewood bridge and large thumb wheels that the work may have been done in the 1950’s is a good one but that is anyone’s guess. The original bridge would have been a one piece ebony type. The original tuners and tailpiece remain. Does the 12th fret align with the white crosspiece on the body? If not, the fretboard was probably replaced along with the neck.

    Mark

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    Registered User John Rosett's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1901 Gibson?

    They were't using truss rods until 1922, so if that is the correct FON, maybe it got re-necked at some point.
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    Default Re: 1901 Gibson?

    Well, the additional pics have me stumped.

    The yellow to light brown sunburst top finish reminds me of my father's 1966 ES-175. The electric guys are now calling that an "iced-tea burst."

    And the neck looks like pre-war Gibson work, but is not the right style for a 'teens A-4. It looks more like a blank intended for a lower model oval hole mandolin during the 1920's.

    "Gibson" in the peghead looks like thirties work, but it's in the "wrong" place.
    "The" doesn't resemble anything I've seen, and looks like it was cut by a different hand. And the fleur de lis doesn't fit with any of the other work.

    Maybe 1960's re-work with a leftover old stock neck, whatever old inlays were left in the back of a drawer, and a fleur de lis that was hastily sawn by someone who had never cut one before and didn't have a picture to go by???

    We'll never know.

    At any rate, when the mandolin originally left the factory in 1918, it would have looked like the one Mark posted.
    At that time, it would have had a black veneer on the back of the peghead, a 1/8" wide dark stripe in the back of the neck, no truss rod, a dark red varnish sunburst top and red or red-brown back, a one piece ebony bridge, and a pickguard secured with a cam clamp.

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    Last edited by rcc56; Jul-07-2020 at 11:47pm.

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    Default Re: 1901 Gibson?

    If it had been re-necked, wouldn’t they have changed the tuners? Worm under suggests that they were from pre. 1924/5 ‘ish.

  18. #18
    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1901 Gibson?

    Wacky for sure.

    Do you have a photo of the back of the neck?

    It looks like a 1918 fretboard (no dot at 3rd fret) but I think rcc56 is right about the neck (the shape of the headstock is wrong). It really does seem like someone renecked this for some reason but put the original fretboard and tuners back on.

    The serial number isn't stamped into the back of the headstock ... there was a time in the early '60s when Gibson would do that to vintage instruments during the repair process.

    Not entirely out of character with some other wacky '60s repairs we have seen, but the attempt at a vintage-style headstock inlay is particularly bad. Often an old instrument repaired in the '60s would get the newer post-1948 Gibson logo rather than the old-school script.
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  19. #19

    Default Re: 1901 Gibson?

    The receipt wasn’t dated, but I know my dad bought it prior to going to college, which would mean pre-1970. The re-neck would’ve been done prior to that, as he never mentioned it being done. I suppose anyone, not necessarily Gibson could’ve done the repair work, which might make the sloppy inlay work and goofy “The” make a little more sense.

    I’ll take a photo of the back of the neck later tonight. I forgot to look at whether the 12th fret lines up with the lines, but it definitely joins the body at the 12th. I forgot to mention this, but there are no dots on the binding, if that means anything.

    Thanks again to everyone for all the info. I have no expectation of nailing down anything for certain, but it’s all pretty interesting.

  20. #20
    Registered User William Smith's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1901 Gibson?

    I'd say it was refinished in the late 30's early 40's as it has late pearl work-a bit crude but nice and that's not a fluer inlay-Gibson did some strange inlays in headstocks of that time as I've seen a load of different inlays within same model and year! Something happened to the mando as the headstock cover was re-done and fret board replaced and looks like some F-4 finishes I've seen from 40ish? Also the bridge I've seen on late 30's-40's A's-Just my opinion anyway.

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  22. #21
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    Default Re: 1901 Gibson?

    Boys, I think we are getting closer on this one. This has been a fun exercise.

    Chris, can you remove the truss rod cover and confirm that indeed it has an adjustable truss rod?

    If so, here is one possible scenario.

    In 1918 this A4 was built in the same 11122 batch along with my A4 and probably looked nearly identical. No truss-rod, black veneer on back of peghead, worm-under tuners, guard with cam clamp, etc.

    At some point the neck was damaged and replaced.

    The replacement neck came from a 1922 basic A model. I say 1922 because earlier ones had no truss rod and 1923-24 they would have a snakehead peghead, by 1925 the Peghead would be drilled for worm over tuners. The A neck has no black veneer on the back and no inlay.

    “The Gibson” inlay may have been salvaged from the original neck and installed on the A neck, that would account for the poor spacing. The crude fleur de lis was added at that time, probably the original was damaged.

    The original A4 fretboard was reinstalled but was shifted slightly towards the headstock, probably to make the taper of the fretboard align with the sides of the neck. The 12th fret should align with the crosspiece in the body and it does not. The shifted fretboard is apparent at the sound hole as well.

    The fretboard appears to have been rebound which would explain why the side markers are missing.

    The refinishing could have happened much later.

    Notice evidence of the screwed-on pickguard next to the neck in the top.
    Mark Lynch

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  24. #22
    Registered User William Smith's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1901 Gibson?

    Nice observation on the neck Mark! Also the TRCover is a bigger one that were in use in the late 30's and up on A's.

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1901 Gibson?

    My guess is that Gibson didn't do any of the refinish or the inlay. Sunburst doesn't look like 1940s or 50s and the inlays are seriously amateurish. Maybe owner did his own inlays and had the truss rod and refinish done by a competent luthier who probably never saw a real teens Gibson F-4.
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  27. #24
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    Default Re: 1901 Gibson?

    Quote Originally Posted by William Smith View Post
    Nice observation on the neck Mark! Also the TRCover is a bigger one that were in use in the late 30's and up on A's.
    It's probably a guitar truss rod cover.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  28. #25
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1901 Gibson?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    My guess is that Gibson didn't do any of the refinish or the inlay. Sunburst doesn't look like 1940s or 50s and the inlays are seriously amateurish. Maybe owner did his own inlays and had the truss rod and refinish done by a competent luthier who probably never saw a real teens Gibson F-4.
    I'm kind of there with you as well. Even on their worst days I doubt Gibson would have done that inlay. It might be big and fat to cover the hole from a previous inlay, don't know but that one really doesn't resemble what should have been there.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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