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Thread: Unsigned Loar on Reveb

  1. #51
    Formerly F5JOURNL Darryl Wolfe's Avatar
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    Default Re: Unsigned Loar on Reveb

    These are un-signed Loars. Flowerpot, proper look finish, FON number aligns with the last signed batch of Loars. The only difference is the lack of label, and the serial number are relative to Loar signed serial numbers

    http://www.mandolinarchive.com/gibson/serial/80782
    http://www.mandolinarchive.com/gibson/serial/80783
    http://www.mandolinarchive.com/gibson/serial/81176

    With regard to the Spann book and information. I have said this over and over. The book is a work of art and he has used certain information to more accurately date things. However, in my opinion, his all inclusive statement that serial numbers were assigned when shipped does not meet all circumstances. It meets most all circumstances after 1925. But, if it applied to mandolins built in 1923 and 1924, then Loar serial numbers would not be in consecutive order like every single one is. It took years to sell all of the Loar signed and dated mandolins and it has been verified that many did not ship until the mid to late 20's.. This accounts for some of the gold parts anomalies and some being factory oversprayed.

    The Reverb mandolin that is the subject of this thread is not an unsigned Loar. It may be constructed of parts made in 1923 or 1924, but it was asked for by FON and the FON assigned well after Loar was gone. Gibson by this time had changed the business model and in affect were building to suit (via FON), not in advance. Therefore we see drastic changes in colors, actual finish, bindings and parts used compared to the Loar era. And it is now that we see smaller batches (some with consecutive serials, some not) and we see disjointed serial numbers compared to what the instrument looks like. This is where Joe Spann is exactly correct. This is why we see a 1931 Spann dating) serial number on a mandolin most obviously fully finished in say 1926 or 1927 with a thin dull lacquer finish and dot inlay starting at the 5th fret instead of block inlay or dots starting at the 3rd fret.
    Darryl G. Wolfe, The F5 Journal
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  3. #52
    Registered User Hendrik Ahrend's Avatar
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    Default Re: Unsigned Loar on Reveb

    Thanks for your explanation, Darryl. Please allow for commenting on your statement "However, in my opinion, his all inclusive statement that serial numbers were assigned when shipped does not meet all circumstances. It meets most all circumstances after 1925."
    Darryl, with all due respect, Joe Spann mentions that the Master Models had their serial numbers reserved in advance. While this was an exception (Master Models with their Loar signature were exceptional anyway), Spann's basic observation/explanation of FONs indicating the time of manufacture and serial numbers indicating the time of shipment, makes a lot of sense IMHO. If this was not the case, it wouldn't have made any sense at all for Gibson using both FONs and serial numbers, would it? There is no indication that FONs were not assigned in chronological order (although, of course, there were reoccurring series of FONs). Now, FON 11965 is an early 1924 F5 (Feb. 18th), FON 11985 are a late '24 Loar F5 (Dec.1) and the unsigned Loars. Those two mentioned FONs are only 20 numbers apart and both from 1923 (according to Spann). What do you make of this?

  4. #53
    Formerly F5JOURNL Darryl Wolfe's Avatar
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    Default Re: Unsigned Loar on Reveb

    Quote Originally Posted by Hendrik Ahrend View Post
    Thanks for your explanation, Darryl. Please allow for commenting on your statement "However, in my opinion, his all inclusive statement that serial numbers were assigned when shipped does not meet all circumstances. It meets most all circumstances after 1925."
    Darryl, with all due respect, Joe Spann mentions that the Master Models had their serial numbers reserved in advance. While this was an exception (Master Models with their Loar signature were exceptional anyway), Spann's basic observation/explanation of FONs indicating the time of manufacture and serial numbers indicating the time of shipment, makes a lot of sense IMHO. If this was not the case, it wouldn't have made any sense at all for Gibson using both FONs and serial numbers, would it? There is no indication that FONs were not assigned in chronological order (although, of course, there were reoccurring series of FONs). Now, FON 11965 is an early 1924 F5 (Feb. 18th), FON 11985 are a late '24 Loar F5 (Dec.1) and the unsigned Loars. Those two mentioned FONs are only 20 numbers apart and both from 1923 (according to Spann). What do you make of this?
    Hendrik,

    I should have further clarified. I am aware that Joe made that "reserved in advance" caveat for Loar mandolins. However, I disagree with that also. I say this because all mandolins and guitars prior to 1923 are serialized in groups. By studying the mandolinarchive and even Joes listings, one can see that there is a distinct correlation between FON numbers and the consecutively numbered serial numbers. This is proven even more true by the fact that serial numbers are written in pencil under the labels, on the bottom of bridge and and even scratched into the back of many pickguards. Prior to their final assembly and label installation.

    Here is a simple indication that these A2's were made from one double batch, FON 11865, with consecutive serial numbers

    73922
    Images 1923 Gibson A2 Mandolin snakehead A-2 brown. Arrow-end tuners

    73923
    Images 1923 Gibson A2 Mandolin nice condition, 1/4" side crack near neck block

    73926 1923 Gibson A2 Mandolin Snakehead

    73934 Gibson A2 Mandolin snakehead

    73961
    Images 1923 Gibson A2 Mandolin Sheraton Brown

    Again, I have the highest of respect and admiration for Joe's work. His serial numbers assigned upon shipment does truly explain the mysteries of some of the post 1925 mandolins and guitars, but not all of them. For example, the what we used to call 1929 batch of F5 mandolins with 897xx serials. What a mixed bag of varnish or lacquer, dots or blocks and even hardware. Thanks for solving that one Joe. And yes, many were actually 1931's and not 1929 because of that. But, notice that the serials in this case are still grouped. This indicates that they left the factory at vastly different times, but in this case still had their serial numbers from long ago. Or, they all got their serial number at the same time and came from different FON's as Joe says.
    Last edited by Darryl Wolfe; May-11-2021 at 11:06am.
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  6. #54
    Fatally Flawed Bill Kammerzell's Avatar
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    Default Re: Unsigned Loar on Reveb

    Quote Originally Posted by rcc56 View Post
    My point of view is that "Unsigned Loar" is just another marketing ploy to attempt to increase an instrument's value beyond what it would be otherwise.

    A few years ago, the term did not exist.

    If I found one of my old baseball cards from the 1960's, a card with Willy Mays' hand-signed autograph would be worth quite a few dollars.
    No, I don't have one.
    Anyway, the same card with no autograph would be worth a lot less.

    The unsigned card has a certain intrinsic value.
    The presence of a handwritten signature increases its value considerably.

    I look at 1920's F-5's the same way.

    For those who know guitars, a 1942 Gibson J-45 with a banner logo is structurally identical to a 1954 J-45 without the banner. The presence of the banner logo and some minor differences in trim are the things that make the '42 model more valuable. Inside the box, they are exactly the same.

    As an aside, I'll mention that I've had three J-45's pass through my hands-- a '44 banner model, one built in '52, and one built in '54. The '54 was the best instrument by far. Maybe I should have kept it, but I'm 5' 6", and I do better with smaller instruments.
    Similar to an unsigned personal check being worth considerably less than one that is signed.
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  8. #55
    Registered User Hendrik Ahrend's Avatar
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    Default Re: Unsigned Loar on Reveb

    "(...) one can see that there is a distinct correlation between FON numbers and the consecutively numbered serial numbers." This might only explain that the instruments were sold immediately after completion. It does, however, IMHO still leave the question, why Gibson went through the trouble of applying two sets of numbers (FON and S/N) in the first place. I'm open for further insights and explanations, of course.

  9. #56
    Fingertips of leather Bill McCall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Unsigned Loar on Reveb

    I suspect inventory control is a contributor. An order would generate a parts bill, each part would be pulled from inventory or manufactured for that batch. Those parts would make ‘x’ instruments. Each individual instrument would be assigned a serial number at some point after assembly. If a batch had spoilage, the parts could be tracked and costs assigned as appropriate.
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  11. #57
    Formerly F5JOURNL Darryl Wolfe's Avatar
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    Default Re: Unsigned Loar on Reveb

    Quote Originally Posted by Hendrik Ahrend View Post
    "(...) one can see that there is a distinct correlation between FON numbers and the consecutively numbered serial numbers." This might only explain that the instruments were sold immediately after completion. It does, however, IMHO still leave the question, why Gibson went through the trouble of applying two sets of numbers (FON and S/N) in the first place. I'm open for further insights and explanations, of course.
    Gibson was very adept at tracking costs associated with production. The FON is essentially a work order that dictates how many and what do we need to build next. So, everything was tracked via the FON. This likely included manhours or time cards in some fashion. A "job number" per se. The parts were marked so that there was no confusion as to what the intended use/finished product it was associated with.
    Now, at some point the instrument became "whole", but far from complete. At that point serial numbers were assigned, and written on the factory order paperwork also. This is the how and why for the pencil numbered serial that was visible immediately inside the sound hole. The FON could also be seen.
    So, letís say the FON was for 36 F5's. The first 12 piles of previously machined and carved parts for the FON were assembled and marked with a serial number before closure of the body. So, after they were trimmed and dimensioned, they were routed for binding and bound, and the neck attached and fingerboard and overlay installed. Now let's assume they left the assembly room for another part of the plant for other workers to continue with finishing. Then these same workers worked on the next 12 F5's from the FON. Now one can truly visualize the July 9, 1923 batch of 73725 triple bound on the face and the 73987 batch of triple bound on the sides July 9, 1923 Loars, because they were all signed later when the entire FON batch was done.
    Now letís move to later on in the 20ís and 30ís. Both banjos and mandolin made under a FON designation now had a suffix to the FON indicated which instrument of the batch. This suffix number was written not stamped. Examples 9698-1, 1187-1, 1187-2. The banjos never received a true serial, but they had a unique FON via the suffix. Conversely, a small batch of mandolins had both the suffix on the FON and a serial number. But the serial number and label was not installed at the same time. They were installed when it shipped like Joe says. Gibson did the same for guitars in the 30ís and 40ís and used no label.
    Darryl G. Wolfe, The F5 Journal
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  13. #58
    Formerly F5JOURNL Darryl Wolfe's Avatar
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    Default Re: Unsigned Loar on Reveb

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill McCall View Post
    I suspect inventory control is a contributor. An order would generate a parts bill, each part would be pulled from inventory or manufactured for that batch. Those parts would make Ďxí instruments. Each individual instrument would be assigned a serial number at some point after assembly. If a batch had spoilage, the parts could be tracked and costs assigned as appropriate.
    Exactly. I had a power outage, so my post is late coming in
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  14. #59
    Formerly F5JOURNL Darryl Wolfe's Avatar
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    Default Re: Unsigned Loar on Reveb

    Back to the real subject at hand....at one point in time there were "Loars" and there were "Ferns". If you had a mandolin with f-holes and a flowerpot, it was a Loar F5. People did not pay attention at all to dates and serial numbers. Now if you had a "Fern". it was not a Loar and was made later, but it was a "real F5".

    Only much later did the mainstream realize that there are a few Fern Loars. And the much later did we come to realize that then were a few "Unsigned" flowerpots. Then, only part and parcel to my ongoing F5Journal list did we realize that the serial numbers on those unsigned flowerpots were between the Loars and the Ferns.

    So pick your poison. It's an "unsigned Loar" or it a rare very late flowerpot F5 that is earlier than all the "Ferns" and their basic attributes.
    Darryl G. Wolfe, The F5 Journal
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    Default Re: Unsigned Loar on Reveb

    As William Shakespeare so wisely observed in Romeo and Juliet, "A rose by any other name would smell as sweet."

    As Darryl so knowledgeably points out, there are a few old Gibson F-5s without the signature label, which are identical in every respect to Loar signed examples from late 1924. So I ask you fellow F-5 enthusiasts, "What's a label with Lloyd's autograph worth?" This a question and I'm leaving it up to y'all to come up with an answer!

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  17. #61

    Default Re: Unsigned Loar on Reveb

    Quote Originally Posted by Dawg View Post
    "What's a label with Lloyd's autograph worth?"
    > than a label without his autograph, but < it was worth a few years ago...
    "I play BG so that's what I can talk intelligently about." A line I loved and pirated from Mandoplumb

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  19. #62
    Fingertips of leather Bill McCall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Unsigned Loar on Reveb

    Many different markets. As a player, the signed label is worth $0 to me, but as a collector/investor thinking of resale value, quite a lot.

    Won't be a choice I'll have to make
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  20. #63
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    Default Re: Unsigned Loar on Reveb

    Well, just like any other used instrument, it's what a buyer and a seller can agree upon in a finite moment of time.

    Since I've had some experience buying and selling older instruments over the years, I will note that the very limited number of buyers for high end instruments tend to be extremely picky these days. So I would guess that at this particular moment in time, most of those buyers would would not be interested in paying any more for an instrument represented as an "unsigned Loar" than they would for any other F-5 in similar condition from 1925 to 1929. But that's only a guess.

    1920's F-5's in any configuration are not selling well these days.

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  22. #64
    Adrian Minarovic
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    Default Re: Unsigned Loar on Reveb

    Quote Originally Posted by rcc56 View Post

    I will note that the very limited number of buyers for high end instruments tend to be extremely picky these days.
    And sellers have to find very creative ways to persuade them their item is the best deal...

    BTW, the same seller has early Loar that he insists should be called "restored only" because Gilchrist didi the job. But from the description it is clear that it was refinished TWICE... that removes substantial amount of wood adn this one had the top joint cracked under tailpiece which is in my book often first sign of a weak top. Hard sell.
    Adrian

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  24. #65
    Registered User j. condino's Avatar
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    Default Re: Unsigned Loar on Reveb

    The folks at the old Gibson factory never in their wildest dreams considered the amount of inventory control fanaticism that some of you obsess over almost 100 years later. Most days they just wanted to get it over and get back to their families and lives and bills and the 1000 other things that kept their mind occupied until lunch or break time.

    Natural anomalies in wood, production failures, climate control & seasonal weather issues; some days 1/3+ of the parts wind up in broken or in the dumpster and that doesn't even begin to talk about disgruntled employees....Ever see a fist fight on the factory floor over fret wire; I have. Ever see a newish employee completely destroy a guitar and then hide the parts up in the ceiling when they think nobody else is looking? I have.

    I've said it many times: some of you really need to get a mediocre job in a factory and see how it works when the unicorns and fairy dust all disappear....

    I'll take tone, voice, projection, and playability over a label any day!


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  26. #66
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    Default Re: Unsigned Loar on Reveb

    I have no illusions about what goes on in factories. I've worked in several of them.

    The only reason I get picky is because many buyers believe in the unicorns, elves, and fairy dust; and I might want to sell an instrument somewhere down the line. But I agree wholeheartedly that those buyers should take a step back, and listen to how the instruments sound, and pay attention to how well or badly they play.

    But like it or not, the signature is what is worth the big bucks. And no amount of slick sales talk, skullduggery, or plain old fashioned horse feathers is going to change that. For that matter, no amount of reality is going to change it either.

    And I've never heard as much myth on any other subject besides Gibson mandolins and banjos, except for subjects that we do not discuss in these forums.

    The most powerful F-5 I've ever played was a Loar with a Virzi. Conventional wisdom says that I must be wrong. But I've played a lot of mandolins, and I know what I heard. I've played a D'Angelico two point oval hole mandolin that was just as strong. And the best miking mandolin I've ever had was a Lyon & Healy style B. There's a lot of good things out there besides F-5's.
    Last edited by rcc56; May-14-2021 at 11:48pm.

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