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Thread: Family heirloom- help me identify this mandolin

  1. #1

    Default Family heirloom- help me identify this mandolin

    Hi folks. I received my Great grandpa's mandolin from a cousin yesterday. (Incredible, I know!) Unfortunately, no one has any details about where it came from, when/where/by whom it was made. My Grandpa was born around 1900 and died in the 80s, guessing the mandolin was probably played by him in the 30s and 40s. Any ideas about its origins or any info you have would be great.
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  2. #2
    Registered User Glassweb's Avatar
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    Default Re: Family heirloom- help me identify this mandolin

    pictures...

  3. #3

    Default Re: Family heirloom- help me identify this mandolin

    I googled the inscription on the tailpiece, and came across this webpage:

    https://www.thesprucecrafts.com/what...ntiques-149120

    The article claims that this inscription was used in Germany as early as 1899.
    Eastman MD504
    D'Addario Nickel Bronze, Medium
    Dunlop Ultex Sharp, 1.4 mm

    IG: @standing.wav

  4. #4

    Default Re: Family heirloom- help me identify this mandolin

    Please show a photo of the back of the headstock so we can see if the tuners are visible or enclosed. German metalware usually means European construction but as Germany had a huge stringed instrument manufacturing industry, German made things like the inlays and tuners and tailpieces were exported and used by makers across Europe and as far away as the USA and the tailpiece might be a replacement for the original.

    I found this similar mandolin which does not have the elaborate tailpiece:

    https://www.worthpoint.com/worthoped...lute-mandolute

  5. #5
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Family heirloom- help me identify this mandolin

    Could you possibly post some pictures of the case in the background? That tailpiece looks like it has a built in sleeve guard (just for Jim Garber) and actually might not have been original to the instrument. It looks American to me, probably built in Chicago but I've been wrong before. That inlay was pretty common and shared between builders that probably bought from common jobbers.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  6. #6
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Family heirloom- help me identify this mandolin

    Tailpiece was very likely replaced. The pickguard is like Washburns and I can't quite tell but the headstock shape also looks like Washburns. I have seen quite a few unlabelled mandolins of this era made by Lyon & Healy that they probably sold to retail shops. The eagle inlay and the rosette doodads are common and likely from a pearl supplier. I have seen quite a few of those on various differently branded instruments.

    This does not look German to me but likely American-made.
    Jim

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  8. #7

    Default Re: Family heirloom- help me identify this mandolin

    From what I can see of it, if it is not an Italian made instrument and it is US made, then I would suggest Oscar Schmidt of New Jersey but I cannot see enough to have a firm view on anything other than if it was European, then it looks Italian.

  9. #8

    Default Re: Family heirloom- help me identify this mandolin

    From what I can see of it, if it is not an Italian made instrument and it is US made, then I would suggest Oscar Schmidt of New Jersey but I cannot see enough to have a firm view on anything other than if it was European, then it looks Italian. Here is an Oscar Schmidt mandolin as worked on by Jake Wildwood. He mentions it has European/German made tuners. The tuner buttons on the mandolin in question to my eye suggest they are US made- but seeing the whole units would help with an analysis.

    https://jakewildwood.blogspot.com/20...-mandolin.html

  10. #9
    Registered User Steve VandeWater's Avatar
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    Default Re: Family heirloom- help me identify this mandolin

    I wonder why the G string is up over the tailpiece. Is the tailpiece hinge so loose that the g string is holding it closed?
    Very pretty instrument though!
    It ain't gotta be perfect, as long as it's perfect enough!

  11. #10
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Family heirloom- help me identify this mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve VandeWater View Post
    I wonder why the G string is up over the tailpiece. Is the tailpiece hinge so loose that the g string is holding it closed?
    Very pretty instrument though!
    It's holding the cover closed, it seems that was common to a design like this.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  12. #11

    Default Re: Family heirloom- help me identify this mandolin

    Thank you all for the input! Right on. Here's a few more pictures. Click image for larger version. 

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  13. #12

    Default Re: Family heirloom- help me identify this mandolin

    Definitely US made tuners and this encourages me to believe it is a mandolin made by Oscar Schmidt early in the 20th century.

  14. #13
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Family heirloom- help me identify this mandolin

    This is driving a little crazy. Pickguard resembles lots of L&H products but the headstock not at all. I see very few details on Jake's example that resemble the OP's.

    NickR: what makes you think the OP's is OS? Of course, it is possible but I am trying to get my head around it. I honestly don't see why OS—some other American maker could be just as possible.

    The Worthpoint example you link to above has an eagle inlay but that is all I see of similarity. The eagle inlays are not at all the same although the rosette doodads are similar.

    Maybe you have other OS examples that have more of the characteristics that match the OP's?

    Actually the omnipresent OS 12 strings often have pickguards of the same shape as the OP's.
    Jim

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  15. #14

    Default Re: Family heirloom- help me identify this mandolin

    Jim

    It is mostly the headstock shape which OS used in the early 20th century and the dot markers and purfling but those features are not definitive, I know to conclusively make it an OS made instrument. OS also used those tuners but likewise, others did too. If I run into some others, I will alert you to them but Sandman is calling!

  16. #15
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Family heirloom- help me identify this mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by NurseBluegrass View Post
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    The headstock on the OP's is different from the one on Jake's site.

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    Jim

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  17. #16
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Family heirloom- help me identify this mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by NurseBluegrass View Post
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    The headstock on the OP's is different from the one on Jake's site.

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    However, there is also this headstock of a mandolin banjo also on Jake's site, so...

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    Jim

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  18. #17

    Default Re: Family heirloom- help me identify this mandolin

    Jim, I have looked a bit now and have not found anything to post to add to my OS attribution. One thing for sure is that OS seems to have had so many headstock shapes in a relatively short time period. Annoyingly, both photos of the OP's mandolin's headstock are not as good as I would like to make for exact comparisons as there re a number that could be very similar.

  19. #18
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Family heirloom- help me identify this mandolin

    The mandolin on Jake's site looks like the headstock was pretty pointed whereas the MB looks closest to the OP's as far as I can tell.
    Jim

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  20. #19
    Full Grown and Cussin' brunello97's Avatar
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    Default Re: Family heirloom- help me identify this mandolin

    Fun conversation here....
    I don't have much to add, but I'm guessing this is an East Coast mandolin, and not from Chicago. Whether that is from Schmidt or from the Ciani-an network they drew from is far from my understanding.
    The main detail for me isn't the headstock, but the end of the fingerboard being cut to follow the profile of the sound. A very Italian detail. If this had been built in the US, I'd propose it was by craftsfolks still connected to Neapolitan details.

    Which just has me thinking if L+H bowlmaking process had the necks attached to the bowls with the fretboard already in place. Would shed some light on the L+H mix and match conversation Mike E was weighing in on un paio di mesi fa.

    Mick
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