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Thread: Unique Lyon & Healy Tailpiece Engraving

  1. #1

    Default Unique Lyon & Healy Tailpiece Engraving

    This is a Lyon & Healy #113, Style C that I've owned for 20 years or more. This is the long scale model (13 3/4" about the same as Gibson). They also made many in 13" 'violin' scale. I don't play it often these days, but I do appreciate it for its gorgeous varnish or perhaps shellac finish, and terrific craftsmanship. The C may have been third in the L&H line, but they compare favorably to Gibson's top of its line A-4 of the period.

    This one had three interesting modifications over the course of it's 93 years. The composite finger rest has been replaced with a fine replica made of ebony. It appears to me that the fingerboard extension has been removed after fret 20 (perhaps it belonged to Sam Bush at some point?). And most interesting, the tailpiece cover is engraved and dated. I wonder if anyone at the Cafe can supply any information about Ennis W. Clarke, or perhaps, Clarlie?

    In any event, it helps those trying to accurately date these L&H mandolins. I suspect this one was sold very near May 22, 1919. Are their any others out there similarly engraved? Maybe it was a factory option, for all I know.

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  3. #2
    Moderator JEStanek's Avatar
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    Default Re: Unique Lyon & Healy Tailpiece Engraving

    It's lovely and intriguing.

    Jamie
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  4. #3
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    Default Re: Unique Lyon & Healy Tailpiece Engraving

    Maybe this person?

    Name: Ennis W Clarke. Birth: 2 Aug 1896 - England;Great Britain. Residence: East Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts.

  5. #4

    Default Re: Unique Lyon & Healy Tailpiece Engraving

    I'm no genealogist, but I have tried typing the name (Ennis? Emmis? Clarke? Clarlie?) and its variants into Google. I haven't come up with anything over the years - but I haven't paid any $$$ either! A draft card from WWI as seen in the link above, does sound promising, though. How better to celebrate the armistice, than popping for a fine Chicago-made mando?!?
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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Unique Lyon & Healy Tailpiece Engraving

    The last name in the engraving is Clarlie.

  7. #6

    Default Re: Unique Lyon & Healy Tailpiece Engraving

    I think you must be right Mike. That's an unusual surname!
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    the little guy DerTiefster's Avatar
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    Default Re: Unique Lyon & Healy Tailpiece Engraving

    I can also imagine someone dealing with an engraver, having his beautiful mandolin tailpiece cover in the engraver's shop for a few days, upon picking it up having to discuss with the engraver just why his signature was so hard to read. How could he have mistaken a "k" for "li"?

    Engraver: "Bring me another cover and I'll do it also."
    Ennis: "Oh, darn, it's the only tailpiece cover they sent me."
    Engraver: "Well, it just won't look right unless you get another. I can't undo the 'li' properly."
    Ennis: "OK, I guess I'll learn to live with it."
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  9. #8
    Epiphonist Masterbilt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Unique Lyon & Healy Tailpiece Engraving

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post
    The last name in the engraving is Clarlie.
    I believe it's "Ennis W. Clarke". The dot in the "k" seems connected to the preceding downstroke by a fine line. I have seen examples of old script with a pronounced dot in the "k". Note that the other "l" and "i" look rather different (especially the placement of the dot).
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  10. #9

    Default Re: Unique Lyon & Healy Tailpiece Engraving

    I'll bump this thread in honor of my mandolin's 95th birthday today!

    I haven't come any closer to figuring out who Ennis was, or even how he spelled his surname, but this mandolin has held up just fine. I'm still impressed with its fit and finish and tone, which compare nicely to Gibson's top of the line A-models, in my opinion.
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  11. #10

    Default Re: Unique Lyon & Healy Tailpiece Engraving

    Hey! Here's something new from the interwebamajig.

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    Private Clarke is buried in the North Burial Ground, Bristol, Rhode Island, USA. Could even be the man born in England 2 Aug 1896 mentioned in post #3. I see that there is an artist named David Clarke in Bristol. I think I'll write to him and see if he can connect any dots.
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    Registered User houseworker's Avatar
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    Default Re: Unique Lyon & Healy Tailpiece Engraving

    Ennis William Clarke was born in Walsall, Staffordshire. His family immigrated to the US in 1903 aboard the SS Saxonia, which left Liverpool for Boston on the 5th May.

    As it's the closest document I have to the date on the mandolin, here's his 1918 draft registration:

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  14. #12
    Registered User houseworker's Avatar
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    Default Re: Unique Lyon & Healy Tailpiece Engraving

    And here's the far clearer draft registration from 1942:

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  16. #13
    Wood and Wire Perry Babasin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Unique Lyon & Healy Tailpiece Engraving

    I found him in a phone registry on Ancestry, living in Boston 1923, described as a Machine Repairer

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    Adding machine repair, an IT specialist! ha,ha,ha
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  18. #14

    Default Re: Unique Lyon & Healy Tailpiece Engraving

    Well I think we're getting somewhere, thanks to Mr. Clarke's unusual name. He and his brother appear to have been mechanics in a type shop, as well as adding machine repair, according to census records. But by 1940, still single, Ennis has become a studio photographer, of all things. I suppose there must have been a photo with the mandolin in hand, if we have the right man, but I suppose that it is long lost. I wonder why the date was inscribed along with his name? Just to mark the occasion? He was a young man and that doesn't seem like a young man's idea.
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    Registered User houseworker's Avatar
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    Default Re: Unique Lyon & Healy Tailpiece Engraving

    I took the inscription as a sign that the mandolin was a gift. It may have been intended to belatedly mark his 21st birthday, given that the Great War had only recently concluded.

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  21. #16

    Default Re: Unique Lyon & Healy Tailpiece Engraving

    That certainly seems possible. A gift presented to a long-missed son, or perhaps lover, returning from the war overseas.
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    Registered User sgrexa's Avatar
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    Default Re: Unique Lyon & Healy Tailpiece Engraving

    Very cool story, and a beautiful mandolin. I had one of these years ago in birdseye maple, with a cool purple interior case. Add that one to long list of ones that got away, sigh.....

    Sean

  23. #18
    Moderator JEStanek's Avatar
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    Default Re: Unique Lyon & Healy Tailpiece Engraving

    He may have lost his one true love to the Flu Pandemic of 1918-1919 after the war as well. Cool digging on this mandolin's story.

    Jamie
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  24. #19
    MandolaViola bratsche's Avatar
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    Default Re: Unique Lyon & Healy Tailpiece Engraving

    Amazing thread, and a sweet looking old instrument. I love how a simple touch like engraving on a tailpiece can help bring some of its earliest history to life!

    bratsche
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    Certified! Bernie Daniel's Avatar
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    Default Re: Unique Lyon & Healy Tailpiece Engraving

    I think the OP should bump the thread again next year with updated information. Great genealogy work.
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  26. #21

    Default Re: Unique Lyon & Healy Tailpiece Engraving

    Thanks to all for the help sleuthing, both in the thread and back channel. I'll follow a few leads and see if I can get any further.

    This was the second mandolin that I ever bought - way back in the 1990s. It was twice what I'd paid for my teens A-0 a few years earlier! Even if I can't learn any more, I'll always give a thought to Ennis Clarke just as memorial day approaches.
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  27. #22

    Default Re: Unique Lyon & Healy Tailpiece Engraving

    *** FIVE YEARS LATER *** Happy 100th to this L&H Style C - and the memory of Ennis W. Clarke - 22 May 1919
    I can't say that I've pursued the origins of my L&H much beyond where I was in 2014. A number of Cafe members helped out - and I was touched by their enthusiasm. I wasn't able to contact any relatives at that time, although with the help of the mando-geneologists, I think we certainly identified the late owner.

    Anyway, every instrument has a story, and I thought some of the Cafe folks would enjoy seeing this one (again) on its centennial.
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  29. #23

    Default Re: Unique Lyon & Healy Tailpiece Engraving

    My great grandfather was employed in the jewellery business in Birmingham, England as a young man- we have his Matthews of Birmingham banjo and two mandolins- a Vinaccia and a Ferrari. Anyway, on the heel of the banjo, is an engraved silver plate which depicts a swallow skimming over a pond in great detail. I don't suppose he did this himself but he knew somebody who could do the job. In fact I have the hoof of his favourite pony "Dear Old Spot" and that has a silver horseshoe, and silver worked like hair around it running up to a box on the top for keepsakes. This was done by a friend- "W.L.S." when the horse died- Victorian stuff all right- he may have done the swallow! I would imagine, that, bearing in mind his job, Ennis W. Clarke did this engraving himself- or knew someone who could do it for him.

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