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Thread: Unknown Flat Back Circa 1930

  1. #1

    Default Unknown Flat Back Circa 1930

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/antique-VTG...MAAOSwcSlgLpXZ

    The mandolin has had a neck repair but is otherwise in pretty good condition as is the case which I would imagine is original to it and appears to be from the 1930s. I bought a set of tuners like those on the mandolin and put them on a circa 1930 Regal sold by Jenkins of Kansas City- the seller said they had come from a banjo mandolin. I have seen Favilla flat back mandolins with clipped tuners plates but I don't think this was made by Favilla. I trust others can suggest the maker although it may be a product from one of the smaller New York workshops that made unbranded instruments for retailers.

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  3. #2
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Unknown Flat Back Circa 1930

    Pretty intense neck repair. There's no way to know if much of anything is original on the fretboard. I think it's over-priced with that repair but hey, if somebody really likes it.
    Last edited by MikeEdgerton; Mar-09-2021 at 12:55pm.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  4. #3
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Unknown Flat Back Circa 1930

    Those frets are unlikely original either. They look like guitar frets. The originals would be thinner and given obvious neck repair, I would guess the fretboard had been replaced and with the clipped tuners (Waverly?) those were put on later as well.
    Jim

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  5. #4

    Default Re: Unknown Flat Back Circa 1930

    Yes, I think the views expressed about the fingerboard make complete sense- it is probably a replacement and that would explain the markers, which are a bit different.

  6. #5
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Unknown Flat Back Circa 1930

    I think once you remove the entire neck from the identification process you might be able to identify it. For posterity:
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    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  7. #6

    Default Re: Unknown Flat Back Circa 1930

    I am beginning to wonder if the case is original to the mandolin- it is so much bigger but I suppose it was customary to have a mandolin that rattled around inside that sort of case although they did come in various sizes. In fact it just does not add up in so many ways although it may well be a great sounding and playing instrument.

    Edit: There was a late 1930s Regal made Washburn 5280 with a similar case, which seemed to fit on eBay- it had a Gibson style firestripe pickguard and Kluson tuners which helped date it- the pickguard was original and that fetched a mere $140, so I think you are right in suggesting this mystery mandolin is a bit on the expensive side.

    Click image for larger version. 

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  8. #7
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Unknown Flat Back Circa 1930

    The case might be original, very few cases were actually sold with the instruments from the manufacturer. Basically the store added the case if asked or they could have been married later. I have a similar small case with the same sort of marking that is flat on the back and arched on the top. It probably would have fit this.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  9. #8

    Default Re: Unknown Flat Back Circa 1930

    I may post the case on Steve Kirtley's site and ask him if he can date it. It has some unusual features- the interior and the embossed design. It's not going to get any hearts racing but he may know more and can narrow down the date.

  10. #9

    Default Re: Unknown Flat Back Circa 1930

    FWIW, I put this eBay listing in my watch list (not that I was interested in buying, just to follow for later reference) and a day for so later the seller emails me through eBay with a special discount offer of $240 (approx 1/3 off asking price) Anyway, this seemed to be an automated offer, so I'm sure if you place the item on your watch list you will get the same offer, if anyone is interested at that price. I'm not. NFI. FWIW.

  11. #10

    Default Re: Unknown Flat Back Circa 1930

    I received the $240 offer and I am not "watching" the mandolin- it has been sent to me having just looked at the mandolin- which I then posted here. I did post the case up on Steve Kirtley's site and asked if the case is Bull's Head/Harptone. He replied that it may be and it is not from Geib/G & S in his opinion and is no earlier than 1928. One member replied that the case was identical to one that was original to a Martin mandolin he acquired. Harptone did make these chipboard cases for Martin guitars in the 1930s as I have one, so it may confirm the maker of the case*. Interestingly, the body shape is reminiscent of Martin although Martin used a two piece back. Nobody on the cases site has offered any answer to who might have made the mandolin.

    *This is from Steve's history showing prices for C F Martin mandolin cases made by Bull's Head/Harptone in July 1932. I assume if made by the company this would be a Style A:

    Style A B C D
    Mandolin flat model A$8.60 “ B$21.00 “ C$36.00 dz. D$60.00 dz.

    Mandolin carved model B$22.50 “ C$42.00 “. D $66.00 “

  12. #11
    Full Grown and Cussin' brunello97's Avatar
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    Default Re: Unknown Flat Back Circa 1930

    [QUOTE=NickR;1813718 Interestingly, the body shape is reminiscent of Martin although Martin used a two piece back. Nobody on the cases site has offered any answer to who might have made the mandolin. [/QUOTE]

    The back on this one does have a center seam. I imported into PS and zoomed in close to ID it. Sometimes mahagony can hide those things.

    Mick
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  13. #12

    Default Re: Unknown Flat Back Circa 1930

    Mick, thank you for that. I had wondered if this mandolin was a doctored Martin but the back made me think it unlikely. It is possible that the headstock has been reshaped or as already suggested, the neck is a completely new replacement but that still leaves the top to be considered. I suppose it might be a replacement while that rather nice inlaid plate might have come from another old mandolin. It's mystery and maybe it is actually an old instrument that cannot be identified that had a nasty neck break and new board as a consequence.

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