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Thread: My grandfather's mandolins

  1. #1

    Default My grandfather's mandolins

    As I prepare to move (downsize), I have to decide what to do with 3 mandolins that I inherited from my grandfather many years ago. Can someone recommend a luthier or restorer in Connecticut who can evaluate the instruments and suggest what is best to do with each? I have some emotional attachment knowing that my grandfather played them over 100 years ago, but I don't play and there's only so much room for storage when I move. It appears that 2 of them are Gibsons, a Series a and a Series F. The other appears to be a mandolin-banjo made in New York, but the stamp is not fully legible. See pictures.
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  3. #2
    Registered User William Smith's Avatar
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    Default Re: My grandfather's mandolins

    That 1909 Torch and Wire 3 point is awesome! Blonde top also-sweeeeeeet! Too bad about the peg head ear? Do you have that by chance? That's your most valuable instrument shown! I like her.

  4. #3
    Quietly Making Noise Dave Greenspoon's Avatar
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    Default Re: My grandfather's mandolins

    Lovely instruments, and what an inheritance to have. Please grab a shot of the rest of that label in the A.
    Axes: Rigel A Natural #1774 w/mods, Jerman custom 5 string electric, Eastman MD-515 & El Rey, Grandmom's solid-mahogany teens bent-top, Baglamas 002
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    Default Re: My grandfather's mandolins

    Beautiful instruments! You might want to contact the folks at Music Emporium in Lexington, MA. Depending on where you are in Connecticut, it might not be too far and they are top notch to deal with.

  6. #5

    Default Re: My grandfather's mandolins

    The peg head ear is long gone, unfortunately.

  7. #6

    Default Re: My grandfather's mandolins

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    Dave, I'm not sure what you were looking for on the labels, but these seem to be the best shots I can get.

    Chris, Thanks for the recommendation. They are about 2 hours from me.

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: My grandfather's mandolins

    As far as I can see on my phone screen the mandolin banjo was built by Anastasio Stathopoulo the founder of the company that became Epiphone. I will look later on my computer screen.

    Two luthiers in CT: Jim DeCava in Stratford and Acousticmusic.org in Guilford.

    Actually it is a lead banjo not a mandolin banjo— only four strings but same scale as a mandolin.
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    Default Re: My grandfather's mandolins

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    As far as I can see on my phone screen the mandolin banjo was built by Anastasio Stathopoulo the founder of the company that became Epiphone. I will look later on my computer screen.

    Two luthiers in CT: Jim DeCava in Stratford and Acousticmusic.org in Guilford.
    You are right Jim, A. Stathopoulo
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  12. #9
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: My grandfather's mandolins

    OK, I don't have Spann's "bible," but using the old Vintage Guitars (now guitarhq) website, I'd say your F-4 is from 1908/9, and your A from 1914. The Stathopoulo has a similar "A Stathopoulo New York" stamp to this mandolin-banjo, to which the late Stan Jay of Mandolin Brothers attributed a 1919 date. The Jay instrument has a very similar extended slotted headstock.
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    Registered User slimt's Avatar
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    Default Re: My grandfather's mandolins

    Really Nice Mandolins. He had good taste in musical instruments.

  14. #11

    Default Re: My grandfather's mandolins

    Fabulous instruments- do they have original cases, as they are of interest (and value!)? I don't know if your F4- dependent on its date had a "pineapple" tailpiece cover or one like on your A model. However, this pineapple tailpiece is on eBay and the price may be high- I don't know the going rate ( it's high enough on the more common variety on your A!) but it might be worth keeping an eye on it. If it does not attract bids you may be able to make an offer.I would imagine they do not come up that often. https://www.ebay.com/itm/Gibson-Mand...YAAOSwA~5fPcTe

  15. #12

    Default Re: My grandfather's mandolins

    Quote Originally Posted by allenhopkins View Post
    OK, I don't have Spann's "bible," but using the old Vintage Guitars (now guitarhq) website, I'd say your F-4 is from 1908/9, and your A from 1914. The Stathopoulo has a similar "A Stathopoulo New York" stamp to this mandolin-banjo, to which the late Stan Jay of Mandolin Brothers attributed a 1919 date. The Jay instrument has a very similar extended slotted headstock.
    Thanks, Allen. I just found this on banjohangout.org. It's not a very good picture, but I think this 1915 Stathopoulo Bandolin looks like my grandfather's instrument.
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    Default Re: My grandfather's mandolins

    Quote Originally Posted by NickR View Post
    Fabulous instruments- do they have original cases, as they are of interest (and value!)? I don't know if your F4- dependent on its date had a "pineapple" tailpiece cover or one like on your A model. However, this pineapple tailpiece is on eBay and the price may be high- I don't know the going rate ( it's high enough on the more common variety on your A!) but it might be worth keeping an eye on it. If it does not attract bids you may be able to make an offer.I would imagine they do not come up that often. https://www.ebay.com/itm/Gibson-Mand...YAAOSwA~5fPcTe
    Nick, the A model and the 4 string "bandolin" have original cases, but there's no case for the F Model. The A model case has no handle. It looks like the F had the most use, but he probably had that the longest. All I know about the instruments is that my grandfather used them in a dance band in and around New Haven, CT early in the 20th century. There's nobody left in the family to get any more details from.

  18. #14
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: My grandfather's mandolins

    Did your GF have any connection with Yale? You may be able to contact some archive there. Might help if you have any clue of the names of the ensembles he played in. There are also online archives and turn of the century fretted instrument magazines. Or check with older newspapers that may or may not be still around. You may be able to search online on their sites.
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    Default Re: My grandfather's mandolins

    Wow, Bob, your grandfather had good taste. All we found cleaning out my grandparentsí attic was a cracked plastic Roy Rogers child sized guitar, lol...

    Too bad you canít keep them, but youíve gotten enough info here to do some searches and find out what similar instruments have sold for on auction sites and also some of the better known retailers. If I didnít have 2 kids in college right now Iíd be sending you an pm about the F...

    If you donít want to do the leg work yourself, TME will be able to give you good info...

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    Default Re: My grandfather's mandolins

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    Actually it is a lead banjo not a ...
    Yikes! Been making music almost 6 decades, never heard that term before. Thanks, Jim!
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  21. #17

    Default Re: My grandfather's mandolins

    It seems your instruments once had a very active life and as you suggest, the F may have been your grandfather's main instrument. I imagine if the F had a case, that ear might have been in the compartment, possibly, the tailpiece cover as well. I suppose as you will be relinquishing your custodianship of them- or some of them, you can let someone else acquire a case and make repairs etc as required. We have instruments that belonged to my great grandfather but they are not in the same league, although one of his mandolins was a low end Vinaccia which is a good instrument. Thank you for sharing them on this site.

  22. #18
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: My grandfather's mandolins

    I still have the B & J Victoria bowl-back, a fancy one probably made by Lyon & Healy, and the no-name banjo I found in my grandfather's attic 50+ years ago. The 'teens Gibson A-1 I also found there has long since gone in trade, but it's the instrument that started me playing mandolin back in the '70's.

    In so many cases, our involvement in music and mandolins is the legacy of generations gone before. If you can't keep at least one of them, document them as thoroughly as you can -- pictures, whatever other info's been passed down. File the archive with your grandfather's picture and biographical/genealogical material. Those instruments are tangible relics of his century-ago life.
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    Default Re: My grandfather's mandolins

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