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Thread: Looking for help with bowlback mandolin identification

  1. #1

    Default Looking for help with bowlback mandolin identification

    I picked up both of these for what I believe was a decent price. They are in really good shape, old, but lack any sort of label.

    I believe both mandolins are Oscar Schmidt. From what I can tell, the butterfly was used often by OS, as well as the very clear OS inlay on the other mandolin.
    But both are significantly different instruments.

    The apparently lesser quality instrument has the bridge positioned just behind the cant. Also, underneath the cloud tail piece there appears to be stamped '1060'. That's the only number I can find on either mandolin at this point.

    Anyone have any thoughts on who made them? I can't find much on the Oscar Schimdt company. I've read what I can find on here and other sites, but it's left me confused as to a) was he an actual manufacturer or b) was he a dealer that sold other mandolins a la Vega, Washburns, etc of the time.

    As far as playability goes...the butterfly one needs a new bridge, it curves in the middle. The one with the OS deadens about half way up the finger board.
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    Zachary Graft
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  3. #2
    Full Grown and Cussin' brunello97's Avatar
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    Default Re: Looking for help with bowlback mandolin identification

    Well, the upper mandolin in your first photo is certainly an Oscar Schmidt. As you've IDed O and S superimposed on the scratchplate.

    I'm not so convinced that the other mandolin is from OS. What makes you think so besides the farfalla?
    The butterfly motif was fairly commonly in use both in Italy and the US on mandolins scratchplates.
    Favilla, also there in NJ used available scratchplates featuring a more refined butterfly inlay.

    The shape of the two bowls of these mandolin is quite different, which might suggest a different origin as well.

    OS made a lot of instruments, so could readily have made this as well...I'm just hoping to see some more uniquely identifiable characteristics.

    While the other mandolin has very familiar basic traits, such as the headstock, binding and fretboard inlay, I'll say I've never seen that scratchplate, nor a tuner cover that is so closely sized to the dimensions and shape of the headstock.

    I'll be interested in what others think about the progeny of this one.

    Mick
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  5. #3
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Looking for help with bowlback mandolin identification

    I agree with Mick. Also, assuming the scratchplate was original, I don't recall ever seeing a white one with that shape on a bowlback and the butterfly inlay is a bit unusual as well. Is that back shot of the OS or the butterfly? Can you post some pics of the butterfly: the bowl from a few angles and the back of the headstock showing tuners and neck join?
    Jim

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  7. #4

    Default Re: Looking for help with bowlback mandolin identification

    Here are a few more pics. Hopefully this helps. I was hoping you'd have some thoughts. In my research, I've came across quite a few of your posts where you lend your expertise, Jim.


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    I have not been able to find a butterfly on a white pickguard online anywhere. Nor a finger board that's so ornamented. I did find a Washburn with a plain white pick guard, but that's the only one I've seen of those also.
    Zachary Graft
    Celtic and Christian fiddle and mandolin music
    zacharygraft.com
    facebook.com/zacharygraftmusic
    youtube.com/c/zacharygraft

  8. #5

    Default Re: Looking for help with bowlback mandolin identification

    It looks to me that white scratch plate is perhaps a replacement, given it's rough edges and cut around the butterfly.

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