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Thread: Gibson Mandola - No Serial Number

  1. #1
    Registered User Bussmando's Avatar
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    Default Gibson Mandola - No Serial Number

    I recently acquired a Gibson Mandola from a friend that died. Unfortunately his spouse knows nothing about it's date of production. It does not have a serial number. The lable states: Made in the USA by Gibson Inc. Kalamazoo, Mi.
    If anyone has any further information I would appreciate it.
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  2. #2

    Default Re: Gibson Mandola - No Serial Number

    Post a few more close up shots of it- front and back. It does have an adjustable bridge which may be a replacement but might not be depending on its date. The tuners if original will help date it but it has lost its pickguard and clamp. Does it have a case? The serial number should be on the label while there should be an ink stamped number inside on the neck block- the factory order number (FON) that can also date it. It is an H-2 last made in 1924 and probably due to its colour made from1920 to that date. I cannot see if your mandola has a truss rod- I don't think so- this would make it earlier in that time period.

    Here is one dated as 1921 http://www.mandolinarchive.com/gibson/serial/66429

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    Registered User Bussmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson Mandola - No Serial Number

    It does not have a truss rod and came with a hard case. I'll get some more pictures and post them.

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    Registered User Bussmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson Mandola - No Serial Number

    I didn't know to look for a FON there. It appears to be A4112.
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    Registered User Bussmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson Mandola - No Serial Number

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  6. #6
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    Default Re: Gibson Mandola - No Serial Number

    Hmmm. The A4112 factory order number is an anomaly, and does not conform with the numbering systems for an instrument with specs similar to yours.

    Normally, an H-2 such as yours would have a white oval shaped label with "Gibson Mandolin-Guitar Co." printed on it, and the model and serial number inked or pencilled in.

    The Made in USA, Gibson Inc. label is a later style, and was generally used in instruments that were was made for export. The more that I think about it, I believe that your instrument may have been unsold stock that sat at the factory for a period of time, and that it was finally sold to an overseas customer.

    ================================================== =============================

    All of that said and done, it looks to me like your instrument is an H-2 made sometime between 1914 and 1922. If the tuners are original, it would narrow the date to between 1918 and 1922.

    Some characteristics that we can use to help date an H-2 with no visible serial number:

    H-2's made between 1914 and sometime during 1918 would have left the factory with inlaid buttons on the tuners. Tuners can be changed, though.
    I wouldn't expect to see a sunburst finish on an H-2 made before 1914, and the darker sunburst on your mandola is more characteristic of instruments made later in the 'teen's and into the twenties.
    By mid 1922, an H-2 would have a truss rod. Factory original adjustable bridges start to appear in 1921. And bridges can also be easily changed.

    The exact year it was built doesn't have a great influence on the instrument's market value.
    I would feel comfortable calling it "circa 1921."
    Last edited by rcc56; Jan-27-2023 at 3:51pm.

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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson Mandola - No Serial Number

    That Made in the USA label would indicate it was made for export.
    "It's comparable to playing a cheese slicer."
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  8. #8

    Default Re: Gibson Mandola - No Serial Number

    The "Made In USA" and Gibson, Inc label is a 1930s design that you see on Gibson instruments exported in that decade so it cannot be original to the mandola and it is just where the typical label ought to be- so I reckon somebody stuck it there for some odd reason. Maybe, the original label fell out or was damaged badly.

    Edit: My 1937 Cromwell archtop has that label inside it and was one of many hundreds imported by Beare & Son of London at that time. It also has the other export mark from that decade on the headstock back as it is impressed with MADE IN THE USA which I assume is not on the back of this mandola.

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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson Mandola - No Serial Number

    You are right. The Gibson, Inc designation started in 1933 so I have no idea how that label would have been available if someone wasn't in Kalamazoo working for Gibson. It's not like now days when you can photo copy or print something. Maybe it went back to Gibson for repairs and they didn't have a regular label or something. That's kind of crazy.
    "It's comparable to playing a cheese slicer."
    --M. Stillion

    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them"
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  10. #10

    Default Re: Gibson Mandola - No Serial Number

    Mike, I think as you suggest, Gibson stuck it in for some weird reason lost to time.

  11. #11
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson Mandola - No Serial Number

    Probably because label had fallen out and they didn't have anything else. The serial number was generally penciled in under the label.

    http://www.frets.com/FretsPages/Luth...revealnum.html
    "It's comparable to playing a cheese slicer."
    --M. Stillion

    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them"
    --J. Garber

  12. #12
    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson Mandola - No Serial Number

    Does the bridge have a patent date stamp on its base?
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