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Thread: Old Milanese Mandolin 1890 c. project on eBay

  1. #1

    Question Old Milanese Mandolin 1890 c. project on eBay

    I am enchanted by these Milanese and Lombardic mandolins. There is one on eBay, being sold as "project" by a highly skilled luthier in Switzerland from whom I bought a fully restored 1770 probably Donato Filano neapolitan mandolin. I'm not sure why he's not restoring this one, but I wonder how difficult it would be to get it restored in the US? Any thoughts?

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/Old-Milanes...t/124173581713

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  2. #2
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old Milanese Mandolin 1890 c. project on eBay

    I've had excellent service from Bernie Lehmann here in Rochester, and he's done quite a few builds and restorations of baroque-era and out-of-the-mainstream stringed instruments.

    Might be worth an e-mail...
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  3. #3
    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old Milanese Mandolin 1890 c. project on eBay

    I’m curious, how is a 6 string instrument considered a mandoline? Scale length? If I had guessed, I’d have taken it for a lute.
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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old Milanese Mandolin 1890 c. project on eBay

    Quote Originally Posted by Koko View Post
    I am enchanted by these Milanese and Lombardic mandolins. There is one on eBay, being sold as "project" by a highly skilled luthier in Switzerland from whom I bought a fully restored 1770 probably Donato Filano neapolitan mandolin. I'm not sure why he's not restoring this one, but I wonder how difficult it would be to get it restored in the US? Any thoughts?
    It looks like the luthier started it and probably gave up decided that there wasn't much of a market for these less desirable mandolins. These were usually made in the late 19th century. I have one from 1896 by Serafino Casini of Firenze. I strung it with gut strings but decided to restring with a custom Aquila set tuned one octave above a guitar.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Gunter View Post
    I’m curious, how is a 6 string instrument considered a mandoline? Scale length? If I had guessed, I’d have taken it for a lute.
    There were other regional styles of mandolins and these were in some respects more like small lutes. Lombard 6 string mandolins usually were tuned g–b–e′–a′–d″–g″

    More info on this wikipedia article.
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  6. #5

    Default Re: Old Milanese Mandolin 1890 c. project on eBay

    Weird, but.... the fretboard on that instrument looks scalloped. That can't be right!

  7. #6
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old Milanese Mandolin 1890 c. project on eBay

    Quote Originally Posted by frankie View Post
    Weird, but.... the fretboard on that instrument looks scalloped. That can't be right!
    My Casini is also scalloped. I think all mandolini of this style are made that way.

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    Here's another by Enrico Rocca 1885:

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    Jim

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  8. #7

    Default Re: Old Milanese Mandolin 1890 c. project on eBay

    I'm not sure why the seller is selling as a project rather than restoring it. Speaking only for myself, I had a number of "cool projects" in the back room that I felt I would never get around to, so a few years ago I sold them on eBay. The math was something like, I could take a month of my time, do $800 worth of work on an instrument, sell it for $800 to a buyer OR, DO NOTHING and sell a project for the same money to someone who has a dream of restoring something. It seems a "dream" is easier to sell than a completed instrument, in my experience. (not sure what this instrument is worth, just using $800 as an example of one of my eBay sales....) YMMV

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  10. #8

    Default Re: Old Milanese Mandolin 1890 c. project on eBay

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Gunter View Post
    I’m curious, how is a 6 string instrument considered a mandoline? Scale length? If I had guessed, I’d have taken it for a lute.
    There seems to be mandolins with different numbers of strings: Baroque mandolins have 6 courses or 12 strings, Cremona mandolins have 4 strings. From what Iíve seen Milanese & Lombardi mandolins usually have 6 single strings, although I actually have a ďLombardicĒ with 12.

  11. #9

    Default Re: Old Milanese Mandolin 1890 c. project on eBay

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    It looks like the luthier started it and probably gave up decided that there wasn't much of a market for these less desirable mandolins
    As a matter of fact, the luthier (Who is in Southern Switzerland) did say that the Swiss are not interested in antique mandolins so there isnít much of a market there for him. He does have a couple of restored Milanese mandolins, though, so Iím not sure why heís not touching this one. He said the one heís working on now is a headache to restore.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    I have one from 1896 by Serafino Casini of Firenze. I strung it with gut strings but decided to restring with a custom Aquila set tuned one octave above a guitar.
    Jim, can you tell me which strings you are using on your Casini? You donít have it tuned gbeadg?

  12. #10

    Default Re: Old Milanese Mandolin 1890 c. project on eBay

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    My Casini is also scalloped. I think all mandolini of this style are made that way.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Here's another by Enrico Rocca 1885:

    Click image for larger version. 

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ID:	187250
    I think they are so beautiful! Why would they be less desirable???

  13. #11

    Default Re: Old Milanese Mandolin 1890 c. project on eBay

    Good point, Jeff.

  14. #12
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old Milanese Mandolin 1890 c. project on eBay

    Quote Originally Posted by Koko View Post
    Jim, can you tell me which strings you are using on your Casini? You don’t have it tuned gbeadg?
    I wrote to Aquila and they will set you up with a string set. I told them the scale length and that I wanted it tuned to one octave above a guitar and they sent me two sets. I actually haven't strung it up and it has been a few years, I am embarrassed to say.

    The original real gut strings I bought from Gamut strings and it sounded pretty good after it was set up by a luthier whose expertise was restoring lutes. The problem was the highest string which was so very thin it broke quickly. Even if I were to play it in the proper tuning I think i would opt for nylgut or similar synthetic strings.

    These late 19th century mandolinos I believe were a form of retro designs off riffing on the real baroque instruments. Hence the 6 courses.
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  15. #13

    Default Re: Old Milanese Mandolin 1890 c. project on eBay

    Thank you for the info, Jim. I had difficulty finding information on strings for a Lombardic/Milanese. Your experience with the gut strings and Aquila are helpful.

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