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Thread: Hundred-year-old Italian mandolin, need help.

  1. #1

    Default Hundred-year-old Italian mandolin, need help.

    Hi everybody,

    I have some requests based on the following photos and I hope somebody is familiar with classic mandolins, or can at least refer me to a professional.

    So here is the broken mandolin (pushed down the shelf by stupid cat, only the head have been damaged). This mandolin haven't been played in years and years and became so light and fragile that I wonder what is meant for an object like this today. Museum? Complete restoration? for what purpose?

    Can you help me identify this mandolin?

    Also, the family owning this mandolin wouldn't invest a dime into expensive professional work. What do you think about gluing the head and put it back on the shelf with the other family antiques?

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    And yes, sorry, impossible to read the year for me neither!

  2. #2
    Full Grown and Cussin' brunello97's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hundred-year-old Italian mandolin, need help.

    Very curious label, Louis. I have examples from over 350 Italian mandolin luthiers in my files and nothing is a match with yours. Always great to discover something, but this is particularly frustrating as with all the text on the label of yours, it looks as if where the actual name of the luthier is blackened out.

    That head break looks pretty bad. Certainly someone could fix it. But the $$ per value ratio may be high. Despite all the fuss on the label, it doesn't appear to be an exceptional quality instrument, though I may be wrong about this as it is an unknown example for me. (Lots of mandolins were made for the export/souvenir trade to the UK, etc.) Unless, for instance, this is a family heirloom and you are intending to learn to play on it....Then, of course, it may be priceless.

    Maybe one of the other guys (Jim or Dave, maybe) who have extensive files of Italian makers as well might turn up a match.

    Mick
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    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hundred-year-old Italian mandolin, need help.

    Yeah, the label is pretty much intact except for the most important part! Looks almost like someone took a cigarette to it.
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    Registered User G7MOF's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hundred-year-old Italian mandolin, need help.

    If you want it just as a wall hanger, I'd glue it together myself. Now a repair so as to play it again is for a god luthier!
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  5. #5
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hundred-year-old Italian mandolin, need help.

    That is indeed strange. I read the label a few times to figure out where the name of the maker or shop was and it must have been blacked out. I can look in my files but it will take some time.
    Jim

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  6. #6
    Registered User Martin Jonas's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hundred-year-old Italian mandolin, need help.

    The mermaid logo may help -- it has the initials "CAK". Unfortunately the only words that can be clearly read are "Schutzmarke", which is German (!) for "Trademark". I think the name of the maker may be written in very small letters at the bottom edge of the logo, underneath the mermaid. I can't quite read those letters, though: looks like "M Chr fac Kaprak", which may account for the C and the K. I can't make out the next few letters at all, but towards the end it looks to me like "Saitenfabrik". That would again be German, translating as "musical string factory". Not sure that gets us any closer to finding the maker's name.

    I agree with Mick that this does not appear to be a particularly high-grade or valuable instrument, so a repair would almost certainly only make sense for its sentimental value as a family heirloom rather than the collector's value of the instrument.

    Martin

  7. #7
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hundred-year-old Italian mandolin, need help.

    I got it! It was made by C.A. Kisslinger in Napoli. Here is a label from an 1895 example. I also have a different label but that also has a drawing of a woman playing a lyre.

    What was puzzling to me was the German on the label along with the Italian but it makes sense that a German immigrant maker would use that language as well.

    This is a mandolin made by a good maker tho a simpler model. Certainly a good instrument tho hard to tell whether it would be worth the considerable restoration costs.
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    Last edited by Jim Garber; Feb-14-2013 at 2:38pm.
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  9. #8
    Full Grown and Cussin' brunello97's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hundred-year-old Italian mandolin, need help.

    In looking at my files back home, I realize I do have a version of this Kisslinger label. I must have scrolled over it last night after seeing the more familiar label. Nice work Jim and Martin!

    Mick

    I wish I had a better view of an intact neck/headstock joint....
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  10. #9

    Default Re: Hundred-year-old Italian mandolin, need help.

    Hi everybody,
    thank you so much for all this information. After knowing a little more about old mandolins I though I would never find the original luthier, but you guys are awsome! In one week or so, I will add pictures of the broken neck and a better ones of the circular logo as you wished.

    Also, as I am comfortable in musical instrument work, I think I can manage to transform it into a good looking decoration as weel as a respectable shelf mandolin. Do you know what I should do with the back cracks? I would feel cheap to fill them with standard hotpot...

  11. #10
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hundred-year-old Italian mandolin, need help.

    Quote Originally Posted by louispp View Post
    Also, as I am comfortable in musical instrument work, I think I can manage to transform it into a good looking decoration as weel as a respectable shelf mandolin. Do you know what I should do with the back cracks? I would feel cheap to fill them with standard hotpot...
    Hopefully, John (Tavy) or Dave Hynds can chime in here. If not, check in the builders' section for some advice. If it is just a separation they can be glued under pressure, however, I would think that the shrinkage under pressure is what made the ribs separate in the first place.
    Jim

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  12. #11

    Default Re: Hundred-year-old Italian mandolin, need help.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    I got it! It was made by C.A. Kisslinger in Napoli. Here is a label from an 1895 example. I also have a different label but that also has a drawing of a woman playing a lyre.

    What was puzzling to me was the German on the label along with the Italian but it makes sense that a German immigrant maker would use that language as well.

    This is a mandolin made by a good maker tho a simpler model. Certainly a good instrument tho hard to tell whether it would be worth the considerable restoration costs.
    You got it good, Jim.
    The Cavaliere Kisslinger's label is unmistakeably romantic: a siren strumming a lyre in the waters of the Gulf of Naples, and the dramatic setting is complete with Vesuvio spewing smoke.
    Kisslinger's shop might have made about 800 mandolins per year at the turn of the century, going by their serial numbers.
    I've found one more "upscale" mandolin of theirs.
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  14. #12
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hundred-year-old Italian mandolin, need help.

    Nice, Peter. Is that yours?
    Jim

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  15. #13

    Default Re: Hundred-year-old Italian mandolin, need help.

    Jim, it's not mine, just an internet find.

  16. #14
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hundred-year-old Italian mandolin, need help.

    Ah, I found it at palmguitars.com.
    Jim

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  17. #15

    Default Re: Hundred-year-old Italian mandolin, need help.

    Great news, the mandolin is finally restored! many many years later... Thanks for your help!

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/t...dolin-restored

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