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Thread: Please Help Identify how old this Mandolin is

  1. #1

    Default Please Help Identify how old this Mandolin is

    This has been passed down to me, but no information is known such as how old it is and where it was made. I am also curios as to why I can not find anything on the maker Langtry. Please let me know any information that you may have on this Mandolin.Click image for larger version. 

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    Last edited by Beaumac; Sep-02-2020 at 10:55am.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Please Help Identify how old this Mandolin is

    You did not show the tuner units which look like they may be German made although the mandolin label tells us it was American made. Metal parts for instruments were made in Germany and imported- as were mother of pearl inlays and complete instruments. Langtry may just be a retail name- this was commonplace until relatively recently. It may be that the name was inspired by "Jersey Lily", Lillie Langtry who was a famous socialite and vaudeville performer in the UK and USA and she was the mistress of the Prince of Wales- the future King Edward VII. Her fame in the USA began in the 1880s and continued as she became an American citizen. I have no idea who made your mandolin but it may date from the 1890s and appears to be in good order although a personal inspection is always needed to check on internal bracing etc while restringing it and carefully taking it up to pitch might also reveal a few issues but one hopes not! I have seen that headstock shape before but cannot place it- somebody else may well know and the mandolin has features that may help identify the maker.
    Last edited by NickR; Sep-02-2020 at 10:29am.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Please Help Identify how old this Mandolin is

    Thank you so much for the information. If more pictures would help I can absolutely post them. I am very interested in finding out as much as possible on this instrument because nothing was known about it as it has been passed down.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Please Help Identify how old this Mandolin is

    Four-post string mounts are indicative of an earlier instrument. Late 19th to early 20th century. I like the striped bowl, a handsome feature. Not a high-end instrument, but certainly worth stringing it up with extra-light strings, after checking to see if the structure is sound enough to sustain the tension.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Please Help Identify how old this Mandolin is

    To my eye, those tuners do look German and are old which would suggest 1890s- possibly the 1880s. German tuners made by Seidel were used by the Martin Company on its guitars at this time. Looking at the tuner buttons- are they wood- ebony? Plastic, or as it was often called ivoroid, if it mimicked ivory was used at this time and earlier but the buttons may be wood. I have a set of old Seidel tuners and they have ebony buttons.

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  7. #6
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Please Help Identify how old this Mandolin is

    Langtry may not have been the builder, they may have been a retailer or distributor that labeled a mandolin made for the trade by another company.

    This wasn't made by Martin. Hopefully one of our resident bowlheads has some information on the brand or can identify the actual builder.
    Last edited by MikeEdgerton; Sep-07-2020 at 12:07pm. Reason: Fixed typo
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  8. #7
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Please Help Identify how old this Mandolin is

    Alternating maple and rosewood ribs are more generally found on pre-1900 instruments, though not exclusively; I have a Washburn mandola that has the wooden plaque label that dates it to the late 1890's, with the alternating ribs.

    I can't read the other writing on the "Langtry" label; does it give a location at all? Searches for the "Langtry" name on other types of instruments, such as guitar or banjo, seem to come up empty. I tend to agree with Mike E's theory that it may be a local dealer, even an individual teacher who contracted with the manufacturer to have his label on the instrument.

    Generally, it looks "Chicago-esque," whatever that's worth, though I'm not aware of major Chicago makers who used the four-prong tailpiece. The tuner buttons could well be black celluloid, not uncommon for the period.
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  9. #8

    Default Re: Please Help Identify how old this Mandolin is

    The shape of the neck as seen on the tuner side is unusual as it appears to be almost straight to my eye and does not have the typical angle where the neck and headstock merge. The top except around the sound hole is devoid of ornamentation which is also unusual in a bowlback from this era.

  10. #9
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Please Help Identify how old this Mandolin is

    I have only one Langtry bowlback in my files that was sold on ebay back in 2005. Here are some photos for comparison:
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  11. #10

    Default Re: Please Help Identify how old this Mandolin is

    The mandolin you have posted above Jim appears to have replacement tuners- as they seem to overlap the headstock- they are German made but probably date from the 1920s. The label is the same as is the headstock while there is a tiny bit more ornamentation. I have a feeling the tailpiece on the original instrument we are discussing may have been reworked a little.

  12. #11
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Please Help Identify how old this Mandolin is

    I just found this newspaper article from 1923 about Charles S. Langtry. I am not sure he had anything to do with this mandolin except the same last name and he has some connection with mandolin music but anything is possible. The article has him in college in 1923 but the mandolin is probably earlier. Perhaps if there is any connection maybe his family sold mandolins?

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    Last edited by Jim Garber; Sep-02-2020 at 2:11pm.
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    Default Re: Please Help Identify how old this Mandolin is

    Quote Originally Posted by NickR View Post
    The mandolin you have posted above Jim appears to have replacement tuners- as they seem to overlap the headstock- they are German made but probably date from the 1920s. The label is the same as is the headstock while there is a tiny bit more ornamentation. I have a feeling the tailpiece on the original instrument we are discussing may have been reworked a little.
    I think the tuners on the mandolin Jim posted were replacements as well. Most of the builders that had issues with the length of the tuner plates simply modified the plate by cutting off a corner.

    I also don't think the pickguard/scratch plate on the mandolin in the original post is original to the instrument.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Please Help Identify how old this Mandolin is

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post
    I think the tuners on the mandolin Jim posted were replacements as well. Most of the builders that had issues with the length of the tuner plates simply modified the plate by cutting off a corner.

    I also don't think the pickguard/scratch plate on the mandolin in the original post is original to the instrument.
    I agree about the tuners on the one I posted.

    I have seen a bowlback with the same pickguard as the OP and I seem to premember it also beeing a wooden vs. celluloid. I just can't find out where I saw it.
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  15. #14

    Default Re: Please Help Identify how old this Mandolin is

    I sent a photo of the tuners to my expert friend and he says he thinks I know more than him on tuners and he thinks that me suggesting they are German from the 1880s or 1890s is probably correct. Obviously, I may well be wrong but that's my best informed suggestion. Tuners are a good way to date an instrument- unless they are replacements.

  16. #15

    Default Re: Please Help Identify how old this Mandolin is

    Here is another old mandolin with a wooden pickguard. It is lower quality to the mandolin in question but may well be of the same vintage. We don't get to see the tuners. The seller mentions East Germany- Saxony, I assume but I would assume it is American.

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/Stella-East...UAAOSwQXdcujxE

  17. #16

    Default Re: Please Help Identify how old this Mandolin is

    This mandolin stamped Gordon has similarities to the other Langtry mandolin:

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/THE-GORDON-...MAAOSwZ8pcM6v4

  18. #17
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Please Help Identify how old this Mandolin is

    Gordon was a Progressive Music Company brand name. Progressive was based in New York City in the early 1900's. I've had two tenor banjos with their brand on it, both had a whole lot of Mother-Of-Toilet-Seat accouterments. They were a distributor so anything they sold was built by someone else.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Please Help Identify how old this Mandolin is

    Here's an image of one I found on a Google search but the link doesn't get me to this image. However, I have definitely seen another bowlback with a round soundhole and a triangular wooden inlaid pickguard.

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Please Help Identify how old this Mandolin is

    All right! All right! This is where I saw it. Not really much of a clue but whoever made these made the ones above as well. I have two examples of Davenport mandolins both of which have those triangular inlaid wood pickguards and no binding at all. There is a very fuzzy label photo but it looks like it similar to the Langtry one from the OP.

    In fact, I actually found an old thread about Davenport mandolins. The label indeed does say "American Made" just like the Langtry.

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  22. #20

    Default Re: Please Help Identify how old this Mandolin is

    I suppose given the extent of the discussion in the earlier thread, identifying the maker is really unlikely!

  23. #21
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Please Help Identify how old this Mandolin is

    The Davenport was definitely the same builder as the Langtry and neither shows up in the Mugwumps list.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  24. #22
    Registered User Cobalt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Please Help Identify how old this Mandolin is

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    Here's an image of one I found on a Google search but the link doesn't get me to this image. However, I have definitely seen another bowlback with a round soundhole and a triangular wooden inlaid pickguard.

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    That image comes fron this page, apparently:
    https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/7863...isting_detailsClick image for larger version. 

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