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Thread: Unsigned Loar on Reveb

  1. #1

    Default Unsigned Loar on Reveb

    An unsigned Loar came up on Reverb. It looks to be serial #82937. It's not listed in the Mandolin Archive.

    https://reverb.com/item/40248902-gib...-original-case

    I noticed #82933 in the Mandolin Archive has the same order number (#8231).

    Does that mean they were ordered together?
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  2. #2
    Fingertips of leather Bill McCall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Unsigned Loar on Reveb

    Made in the same batch.
    Play it like you mean it

    Not all the clams are at the beach

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    Professional Dreamer journeybear's Avatar
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    Default Re: Unsigned Loar on Reveb

    I'm not the most knowledgeable bloke around here, but I have a hunch the main reason it isn't signed is Loar left in 1924.

    I like the case, a lot. Is that really original? They were making them like that then?

    Lemme dig up the coffee can behind the live oak tree, see how much is in there ...
    But that's just my opinion. I could be wrong. - Dennis Miller

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    Default Re: Unsigned Loar on Reveb

    It would be fun, but thankfully I am an A guy. Not like I even have a coffee can behind the oak tree.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

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    Default Re: Unsigned Loar on Reveb

    According to Spann's, factory order number 8231 indicates a manufacturing date of 1926. Loar had left the building by that time. And serial number 8293x [x looks like a 4 to me] was shipped in 1928.

    That bridge is from a later period.

    As far as calling any Gibson mandolin without Loar's signature an "unsigned Loar," my reaction is "horsefeathers."
    I could say more, but I won't.

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    Default Re: Unsigned Loar on Reveb

    Yes. Horsefeathers.
    Having something to say is highly over rated.

    The entire staff
    funny....

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    Default Re: Unsigned Loar on Reveb

    Well, ya know, pops1, I wasn't about to divulge the actual location of the coffee can, not here. I wasn't born yesterday. In fact, my birthday is months away But be that as it may ... Even if there were that amount of scratch there, I wouldn't be spending it on this.

    But I have a real question, for rcc56, and/or anyone who knows. If the FON indicates a build in 1926, and the SN indicates a ship date in 1928, why is it in a range of mandolins mostly dated 1926 in the Mandolin Archive, which goes by SN? I've never had occasion to ponder this until now - thanks a bunch. I don't see anything in their FAQ about how they've arrived at their dates nor what the date indicates. Does anyone know? I suppose I could ask Dan, but he's busy with more important work, I'm sure.
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    Default Re: Unsigned Loar on Reveb

    The short answer to your question is that most of the instruments in the archive were entered before Spann's book came out. The dates in the archive still have not been completely updated to reflect Spann's research.

    Spann's book is now considered by many to be the most accurate reference for dating pre-war Gibson instruments. The older references we used for serial numbers are different by several years for some periods.

    One of the biggest revelations of Spann's books is that factory order numbers indicate the actual year of an instrument's construction, while the serial number indicates [in most cases] the date the finished instrument was shipped from Kalamazoo. During certain periods, there was a long time lapse between when some instruments were built and when they actually left the factory.

    If you want to learn more, buy the book. It provides some information that helps us to better understand how Gibson operated in the old days.

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    Default Re: Unsigned Loar on Reveb

    Thanks. That helps explain some persistent perplexities.

    I am tempted to buy the book. Questions of this nature have been coming up rather often of late. But when it comes to reading books, I am really, really, really bad about getting to them. I recently tracked down one of my favorite books from back in some long-ago day, and after reading the part I was trying to recall, it's just been sitting in the stack of to-read books, for a couple months now. Guess I spend too much time with this electronic chit-chat, and not enough with printed pages. Hopefully when I pull up stakes and go on walkabout (or driveabout) I'll take some non-electronic information compendia with me. This might be one such.

    BTW, Happy 10th Anniversary, Spann Guide!
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    Default Re: Unsigned Loar on Reveb

    The bulk of the book is factory order number tables. Most of the articles about the company are only a few pages long, and can be digested bit by bit over several sittings.

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    Default Re: Unsigned Loar on Reveb

    Duly noted. I'm sure it took a lot of sorting through much chaos to arrive at this. I appreciate a good reference book as much as the next guy or gal, perhaps even more. BTW, looking up info at the wiki about Lloyd Allayre Loar a couple weeks ago, I noticed Mr. Spann's name had been spelled with just one "n" - twice. (Props for consistency? Nahhh ... ) Took care of that - and it's not been reversed. Proud to have been able to contribute even in a small way to getting this story right for posterity.
    But that's just my opinion. I could be wrong. - Dennis Miller

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    Default Re: Unsigned Loar on Reveb

    While that's a mighty fine "unknown-not in the archives"1926 Gibson Fern F-5, its for sure not an "Unsigned" Loar! The Unsigned Loars are from 1925 and Varnished, same everything as say a Dec. 1st 24 Loar. "and I suspect the Dec. 1st 24 Loar F-5's have a 1923 FON# due to the one Loar thats missing its label to reveal the FON#-same # as the Unsigned!" Now its high probability that many of the early Ferns may have started off life in the "Loar" years, for sure parts that were laying around! Like you sometimes see a 1922 3 piece neck on at least one 1926 Fern? Also the peg head Fern overlays? That 1926 on Reverb appeared yesterday at 50K, now today its 62K! It sure is a nice one that I'd love to strike a few tunes on!

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  19. #13

    Default Re: Unsigned Loar on Reveb

    Interesting stuff! Scroll down on that same Reverb page and you'll see a refinished signed 1923 Loar offered for $89K

    I can't recall seeing one that cheap for a while, FWIW.

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    Default Re: Unsigned Loar on Reveb

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Mando View Post
    Interesting stuff! Scroll down on that same Reverb page and you'll see a refinished signed 1923 Loar offered for $89K

    I can't recall seeing one that cheap for a while, FWIW.
    There's another price well below that for said category. You didn't hear it from me, nor do I think it's a particularly well kept secret in some circles, though I don't expect everyone is aware. I don't consider myself part of "that circle" of information but can be at times.

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  23. #16

    Default Re: Unsigned Loar on Reveb

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandolin Cafe View Post
    I emailed the Archive yesterday. Looks like they just added it!
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    Default Re: Unsigned Loar on Reveb

    I've gotten lots of birthday cards over the years but Lloyd Loar never signed any of them. It just dawned on me that these are unsigned Loar birthday cards!
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  26. #18

    Default Re: Unsigned Loar on Reveb

    Yep, wonderful use of semantics. The old joke from my youth: Kid says, "My mother says I was named after George Washington. But, isn't your name Billy Thomas Jones? Yes, but I was born in 1959, so it stands to reason that my folks "named" me after (the era of) George Washington........."

    Funny, but it seemed much more clever 50 years ago.....

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    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Unsigned Loar on Reveb

    Interlocutor: "It's Wednesday, named after the god Wodin."
    Baron von Munchausen (Jack Pearl): "No ... Wetnessday is named after Tuesday."
    Last edited by mrmando; Apr-29-2021 at 1:45pm.
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    Default Re: Unsigned Loar on Reveb

    That's some wavy wood on that top.

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    Default Re: Unsigned Loar on Reveb

    That might be wavy finish work rather than wavy wood.
    It caught my eye the first time I looked at the link.
    Whatever it is, it looks a bit odd. While it may be ok, I would recommend that any prospective buyer get some more and clearer pictures, and have them looked over by an expert before the sale is finalized.
    Last edited by rcc56; Apr-29-2021 at 1:28pm.

  30. #22
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    Default Re: Unsigned Loar on Reveb

    What Bill Smith said. "Unsigned Loars" have a Loar FON, which is, I believe, in all cases 11985. And that FON is from 1923 (!), rather than 1924 according to Spann. As the FON is normally covered by a label on Loar-signed Instruments, only very few master Model FONs are known. There are, if I remember correctly, two 1924-signed Loar-F5s (ser.-# 75325 and 79835) with accounted-for FONs: 11965 and 11985, both from 1923 (according to Spann). The only 1924 FONs on Master Models can be found on each of two H5s. These mandolas have similar appointments as the famous Fern-Loars (Fern inlay, white binding, Virzi &c.). This might explain, why the Fern Loars are so different from earlier F5s both in construction and sound. They may be the only "real" 1924 F5s. It follows that all other F5s commonly referred to as 1924 and 1925 or "unsigned Loar" were actually made (or laid on keel) in 1923 and finished off later – until further proof, I agree.
    A few leftover parts from the Loar era may have been rehashed in later F5s, but the first F5 FON after Loar's departure (in December '24) is 8231, and that is 1926. Those Ferns are awfully close in construction to the Fern Loars from 1924. Hence, calling a 1926 Fern F5 an "unsigned Loar" is taking the application language a bit too far IMHO.

    Enjoy the weekend, and keep picking!

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    Default Re: Unsigned Loar on Reveb

    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.
    Last edited by rcc56; Apr-30-2021 at 6:15pm.

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  34. #24

    Default Re: Unsigned Loar on Reveb

    First, please excuse my ignorance on the subject of signed/unsigned Lloyd Loars. I find the subject fascinating, like most of us. I also agree that gimmicks abound and some vintage dealers are pretty slick salesmen, IMHO.

    Given the limited time that Lloyd Loar signed instruments at Gibson, I can see why someone would want to try and expand the parameters -- and possibly the price range -- even though it seems to my casual eye that for such "rare" instruments, a signed Loar seems to linger on the open market quite a while before selling, IMHO.

    Back to the question of "unsigned-ness" ... is there any way to really know? Hendrik suggests those numbers are under where the paper label usually is. Are there only two examples of Loar F-5's with missing or lost labels? Working at a vintage guitar shop, I see instruments missing labels on a very regular basis, FWIW. Also, the Spann info is relatively new, it seems. Are we saying before the Spann info signed Loar's were often sold with the years misrepresented, by accident? Are we saying today's info is still only the best estimate we have, so far?

    Also, going back to the 60's and 70's -- musicians were buying and collecting signed Loars. My question is be it Mugwumps, Mandolin Brothers, Bill Monroe, Dawg, etc., -- did anyone seek out Gibson employees who worked on F-5's and interviewed them on the particulars, or has that opportunity come and gone? Seems like in the 60's and 70's there would be plenty of people still young enough to recall the story, IMHO. I could be wrong, but it seems we often still are speculating on things that should be factual, at this point.

    Any thoughts, guys?

  35. #25
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    Default Re: Unsigned Loar on Reveb

    A partial answer to your question about dates on Loar signed F-5's:

    Spann's book has had little, if any effect on the way these mandolins are marketed, at least so far. If specifics about the date of these instruments are posted by a seller or requested by a buyer, the date on the signature label is still the accepted standard for both buyers and sellers.

    I rarely see Gibson instruments from the 1910's or 1920's that are missing their labels. They glued 'em in real good. The pencilled-in serial numbers are becoming hard to decode, though.

    The degree of fascination with antique instruments and the way that they were built is much higher today than it was in the 1960's and 70's. In those days, to most people, they were just old instruments. Over the years, I have watched as every minute detail of change in construction practice has been increasingly analyzed, dissected, and valued to the point of madness.

    Yes, in the old days, the better players knew that the 1920's F-5's were generally better instruments than those of the mid 1930's onward. But they were more concerned about the sound of the particular instrument that they were evaluating rather than the exact date the build was started or it left the factory.

    I'm sure some of the few builders we had before 1980 would have loved to talk with pre-war employees. I'm sure that some builders made at least an effort to meet those employees and talk shop with them. But by 1975, a Gibson employee who worked in the early 1920's would have already been at least 70 years old. And Gibson was an assembly line factory of departments and work stations. Wood components were cut out in one place, sanded, carved, and/or bent in another, glued together in the next station, then sent to the finishing department. They had sawyers, drillers, carvers, binders, gluers, etc. Instruments were not assembled individually by one or two workers. Any one employee would have limited knowledge of exactly how things were done on jobs that he was not trained for.

    Me, if I could go back in time and learn about one thing from the Gibson of the pre-war days, it would be how the instruments were finished, including as much info as possible about the specific techniques and materials used.

    The instrument market has become positively weird. Somehow, 1931 has become a "magic" year for some purveyors and buyers of old Martin guitars. My experience with '31 Martins has been that they were not very different than '28 Martins, except for the shape of the bridge and the presence of a pickguard. Some were good, some were great, and some were not very good.

    Back about 1988 or so, I bought my first good mandolin. I walked into George Gruhn's then little shop, and played every Gibson mandolin he had. I recall that he had about 5 or 6 F-4's, 2 or 3 A models, and an F-10. I bought the best sounding one, a 1918 F-4. Neither I nor George, nor any of his other customers or employees cared what the exact year was. It was just a really good F-4. The F-10 was also a fine instrument, and I considered it, but it cost more and was over my budget. I walked out of the store that day with the F-4 and a late '30's Martin 0-18 for my girlfriend for $2500. It was a lot more fun in those days before the hair-splitting and the high prices. I still have that mandolin.

    I don't recall ever playing a bad '20's F-5. Some are a lot better than others, though. I've played some later F-5's that I wouldn't pay $100 for, except for the possible prospect of re-selling them for $200.

    Read up on the history of Sam Bush's "Hoss" F-5. That instrument was very different from the way it left the factory before Sam ever laid eyes on it. And today, we would never consider doing to a 30's F-5 what was done to Hoss, even though it improved the mandolin considerably.

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