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Thread: Bowlbacks of Note

  1. #7251
    Registered User aliparla's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bowlbacks of Note

    Wonderful instrument, Joe, congratulations!

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  3. #7252
    Registered User Tavy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bowlbacks of Note

    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Bartl View Post
    aliparia, per your request, here are photos of the 1980 Pecoraro I just acquired. Both the sound and the playability put this instrument in a whole other class than what I am accustomed to playing. What magic is this? Why don't other bowlbacks sound as though you're performing in a cathedral? -- Joe

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    Nice!

  4. #7253
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bowlbacks of Note

    This early fluted Calace bowlback (up for live auction today) looks very nice but may have some structural issues (top may have some sinkage and bridge is positioned in the wrong location to provide lower action). The Nicola e Raffaele Calace label has the name blocked off with what looks like black marker. And there is a Samuel Adelstein label pasted over that Calace label. Adelstein was an active teacher and performer in San Francisco around the beginning of the 20th century probably imported this Italian mandolin. He usually played Vinaccias but obviously liked Calace ones as well.

    --------

    It sold a little while ago for $900 plus buyer's premium or $225 = $1125. I think a fair dealer/retail price in perfect condition would be $1500-2000USD. So, no real bargain here especially if it needs some significant work. Still it could be a nice player.
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    Last edited by Jim Garber; Sep-16-2020 at 11:50am.
    Jim

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  6. #7254

    Default Re: Bowlbacks of Note

    Greetings, all.

    This truly goes under "asking for a friend". I have neither direct acquaintance with the owner of these instruments nor any business interest in them. My only understanding is that the owner is an elderly lady who has cherished these instruments for decades but doesn't know exactly what they are, what they are worth, who the next owner may be after her passing and all that. She lives abroad so she doesn't even know whether the materials render them non-exportable.

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    My most rudimentary question is, what are they? I'm a very, ah... street-level mandolinist so anything beyond the modern, Neapolitan mandolin is fine print to me, indiscernible.

    Cheers,

    Victor
    It is not man that lives but his work. (Ioannis Kapodistrias)

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  8. #7255
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bowlbacks of Note

    That is a tough one, Victor. At first I thought they were tamburitza instruments or possibly Turkish, like sazes, but 8 strings? I can't tell from the tiny photos whether they even have frets. Can you get large photos and more details. I am not even sure if they are ribbed or flatback.
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  9. #7256

    Default Re: Bowlbacks of Note

    Strange beasts indeed, Jim. They do seem to have a few frets but, as you say, it's hard to tell whether they are fixed frets— making them "Western" instruments for lack of a better word— or movable ones, making them more Middle-Eastern. But then again all sorts of lute-like instruments in Europe had movable, "temperable" frets so the beat goes on, as does the confusion.

    I will ask for bigger pictures and, most importantly, pictures of the backside of these mysterious beauties. Let's see what this inquiry yields. They now live in the Caribbean, owned by a 90-year-old who inherited them from her grandmother. So far, the only thing we know is that they are certainly old. But that means very little in discerning what they are. They don't seem to have the proportions of any saz I have ever seen but... was there ever a short-ish colascione?
    It is not man that lives but his work. (Ioannis Kapodistrias)

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  11. #7257
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bowlbacks of Note

    Victor: I find this site, Atlas of Plucked Instruments, pretty useful but it takes a bit of surfing through lots of pages and much guesswork.

    It is even hard to tell how large or small these are. Get as much info as possible. Any markings or labels other than inside the case lid. It does say Napoli but maybe just sold in that shop. I don't have any jpeg files from DiGiorgio.
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  12. #7258
    Unfamous String Buster Beanzy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bowlbacks of Note

    These look like a very interesting find Victor.
    I think the elongated peg box for friction pegs may throw people off a bit, but the business end of the instruments is shouting 'mandolin'
    For me the interesting things are the string anchoring at the heel along with 8 strings and a floating bridge.
    The peg boxes and ornamentation are very reminiscent of some of the instruments housed at the V&A museum (pics earlier in this thread) but those have the fixed bridge lute-type construction.
    These could represent a but of a missing link in the transition to the mandolin type structure (or just be someone's later special commission for romantic reasons)

    One thing is for sure, they were built for someone with money & not to a price.... might be time to search oil paintings for similar examples.
    I suspect this one could run a while Victor
    Eoin



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  13. #7259

    Default Re: Bowlbacks of Note

    Thank you, both. I have asked my conduit to get us more info, mostly images; we cannot expect much verbal explanation from someone who admits to knowing nothing to begin with. Let's see what comes back to us...
    It is not man that lives but his work. (Ioannis Kapodistrias)

  14. #7260
    Full Grown and Cussin' brunello97's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bowlbacks of Note

    Does it appear that they have two sets of tuners? (Red Arrows) One midway along the neck and then another further on up?

    And frets in between? (Blue arrows)

    Mick
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  16. #7261

    Default Re: Bowlbacks of Note

    I certainly hope better quality images can be had.

  17. #7262
    Unfamous String Buster Beanzy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bowlbacks of Note

    Name:  270E3EB8-C8F6-4B30-B410-AB2BEF724211.jpeg
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Size:  7.1 KBDefinitely some extra funkyness going on at the other end.
    Almost like a mandolin hybridised with a Baryton or Theorbo; a Neapolitan version of the theorbino using mandolin technology for the bridge & anchoring of the strings?
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    a definite whiff of baroque era inventiveness going on in these.
    Last edited by Beanzy; Sep-21-2020 at 8:49am.
    Eoin



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  18. #7263

    Default Re: Bowlbacks of Note

    I'm beginning to suspect a bit of Franciolini-esque hodgepodgery.

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  20. #7264

    Default Re: Bowlbacks of Note

    Quote Originally Posted by Eugene View Post
    I'm beginning to suspect a bit of Franciolini-esque hodgepodgery.
    Apparently these creatures fall under the mandolino da weirdo subcategory in the taxonomy of plucked instruments.

    For the sake of full disclosure, I heard of these through an equally weird chain-reaction: my wife's oldest brother is married to a very fine lady, who is thus my wife's sister-in-law. She has a sister, who in turn knows the elderly granddaughter of the original owner, now long deceased. So the only hard fact here is that these instruments have been around for a good while. If the granddaughter of the original owner is now in her 90s, these instruments were probably acquired by her grandmother a long, long time ago. I am told that the late madam Such-and-Such actually played these.

    The first question would be whether these are "period" instruments or simply fancy (and fanciful) replicas of something or other. I am not the seller and a natural skeptic. My first guess is that these were made by someone who didn't quite know what he was building. Sure, plenty of MOP and tortoiseshell there but... what on earth are those things?
    It is not man that lives but his work. (Ioannis Kapodistrias)

  21. #7265
    Pataphysician Joe Bartl's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bowlbacks of Note

    So, could the upper tuners be for sympathetic strings, as in a viola d'amore?

  22. #7266
    Unfamous String Buster Beanzy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bowlbacks of Note

    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Bartl View Post
    So, could the upper tuners be for sympathetic strings, as in a viola d'amore?
    yes, the upper nut looks like a raised platform, it appears to be at x2 the mandolin scale and I can count 12 white grooves across the bridge.
    From that I would speculate normal mandolin on 8 strings and 4 sympathetic octave strings.
    Eoin



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  23. #7267
    Unfamous String Buster Beanzy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bowlbacks of Note

    I've been having a rummage based on my initial hunch of a mandolin based theorbino and it looks very close to what you would expect.
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    These are lute based examples.

    An interesting aspect of the sympathetic strings on this instrument is the middle nut looks like it has slots cut out to allow the sympathetic strings to pass.
    These lute based ones have a canted neck to allow them all to pass above the other courses (and be plucked at will) these, if the shadows I see are actually slots, would only be sympathetic octave strings; so a different principle to the theorbino. A very unique find & I hope we get better images to look at soon to see where the strings actually pass the middle nut.
    Eoin



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  24. #7268

    Default Re: Bowlbacks of Note

    Isn't it a version of what's called a "baroque mandolin"?

  25. #7269
    Unfamous String Buster Beanzy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bowlbacks of Note

    Quote Originally Posted by vic-victor View Post
    Isn't it a version of what's called a "baroque mandolin"?
    & then some.... here's a photo to highlight/ exaggerate the interesting bits up at the second peg box.

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    Eoin



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  26. #7270

    Default Re: Bowlbacks of Note

    The maker, Di Giorgio is still alive and well (as a business, of course) in Brazil. Not sure if the modern one has a connection to the original one in question, but quite possibly. I had a Di Giorgio guitar once before.

  27. #7271
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bowlbacks of Note

    Quote Originally Posted by vic-victor View Post
    The maker, Di Giorgio is still alive and well (as a business, of course) in Brazil. Not sure if the modern one has a connection to the original one in question, but quite possibly. I had a Di Giorgio guitar once before.
    Yes, that is all I could fine—lots of guitars in Brazil.
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  28. #7272
    Unfamous String Buster Beanzy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bowlbacks of Note

    Rione Amadeo would have been a very up market address in old Naples, a zone with grand buildings and show-piece palaces.
    Probably why it appeared so boldly on the gilded lettering adding to the sense of luxury.
    I would love if we could get some more background about the elderly owner's grandmother. We already can tell she or her family were able to shop for expensive and unique instruments in places with prestigious addresses. It would be really nice to get the link back to their acquisition and a flavour of who could buy and commission these rarities.
    Eoin



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  30. #7273
    Unfamous String Buster Beanzy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bowlbacks of Note

    Quote Originally Posted by vic-victor View Post
    The maker, Di Giorgio is still alive and well (as a business, of course) in Brazil. Not sure if the modern one has a connection to the original one in question, but quite possibly. I had a Di Giorgio guitar once before.
    I think that is Romeo Di Georgio (born in Rome 1888] who emigrated to Rio and opened his guitar shop in 1908, no mention of Naples in his career.
    Still no info on G. Di Giorgio I have found yet. Probably one for one of our Italian friends to sniff out.
    Eoin



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  31. #7274

    Default Re: Bowlbacks of Note

    I have no acquaintance with the family that owns these instruments but, from the granddaughter's account of her grandmother, I do get a sense of a life of luxury and leisure. On that account, she lived visiting opera houses around the world, painting for her own pleasure, writing poetry for her friends and family, and collecting things of beauty-- which brings us where we are. She also apparently played the "mandolin", if by that we are to surmise that she played these.

    That strikes me as remarkably odd. It seems wildly recherche to be playing such instruments, by any standard out of the ordinary. The family lived in various parts of Latin America but that's neither here nor there; they are Spanish-speakers, not Portuguese-speaking Brazilians. Besides, the world has been cosmopolitan for much longer than one might at first assume. Italian luthiers often emigrated to the Americas, others, American-born apprenticed in Europe etc.

    I have asked for more images. I don't count much on getting any meaningful, descriptive information from the current owner. I will be happy to share...
    It is not man that lives but his work. (Ioannis Kapodistrias)

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  33. #7275
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bowlbacks of Note

    I just scoured a few of my instrument books and find very few instruments that resemble what we can see of these two. If, indeed, there is an extended tuning area a large number of examples are more like teorbos or instruments with harp extensions (like the arch-citterns). Closest I can find are the Italian citterns below. Sorry they got cut off but these are large books. If there are any of interest I can scan those photos. The color one is a French cittern from the 17th century. You should be able to read the decription on the two pages (from Baines book.)

    Citterns seem to almost always have flat backs but we don't have a clue what theses look like. Looking forward (if possible) to seeing larger more detailed photos.

    BTW, Victor, our friend Carlo Aonzo has done some extensive research on mandolin-like instruments like these.
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