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Thread: Mandolin by Cousenon a mirecourt

  1. #1

    Default Mandolin by Cousenon a mirecourt

    This has come in to have its neck straightened and i'd like to find out more about it. Spruce top, mahogany back and mahogany laminate sides. Pegs pick guard are plastic. Spanish heel construction, finished in shellac (i think it's shellac but i'm not 100%) and in great condition for what looks to be a 1930s instrument. Very nice build.

    The label says 'cousenon luthier a mirecourt'. I'm guessing this is the same lutherie house that in violins translates into £2-3000 instruments but info on mandos by them is scant.

    i hope the link to the image works, i couldn't add an image to this post.

    https://www.facebook.com/budestrings...7830933633994/

  2. #2
    Registered User Bruce Clausen's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin by Cousenon a mirecourt

    Sounds interesting. Brand name is probably Couesnon?

    Some of us here don't have (or want) Facebook accounts. Hope you'll post photos here in the thread. Try "Go Advanced", then "Manage Attachments".

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    Registered User poul hansen's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin by Cousenon a mirecourt

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  5. #4
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin by Cousenon a mirecourt

    Poul: can you post a photo of the back and perhaps a few more details? And Burce is correct that it it probably Couesnon. This site compiled by Roland Terrier has lots of info about Mirecourt luthiers and even has a few catalogs of Couesnon. However, the 1912 catalog is probably too early. Back then their mandolins were made by Rafael Disantino, who I think was an Italian luthier in France.

    The one you have in hand looks similar to my DiMauro mandolin in construction and hardware.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Registered User poul hansen's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin by Cousenon a mirecourt

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    Poul: can you post a photo of the back and perhaps a few more details? A........
    Sorry I just linked to the only one photo of Budestrings on Facebook.
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  8. #6

    Default Re: Mandolin by Cousenon a mirecourt

    I have a couple of Couesnon guitars from the 1960s. One which is a big nylon strung guitar which sounds fabulous. The other- an amazing looking 12 string which sadly needed serious work to its structure- it was very lightly built and my luthier decided it was not an economical repair. Neither is as shiny as your mandolin!

    Edit- here they are:

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Click image for larger version. 

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    Last edited by NickR; Mar-13-2021 at 2:12pm.

  9. #7

    Default Re: Mandolin by Cousenon a mirecourt

    This Couesnon gipsy jazz guitar has the same label- the seller suggests it is from the 1950s. My guitars have a different and bigger label and as I wrote, they are 1960s.

    https://reverb.com/uk/item/25934515-...y-jazz-natural

  10. #8

    Default Re: Mandolin by Cousenon a mirecourt

    hi 'ill try to upload what pics I have. It has the look of a 1930s instrument going by the tuners and label. I realise it's very very shiny to be 90 years old, but it really doesn't feel post WW2. the difference of the colour of the spruce under the pick guard also suggests a fair age. It may well have spent a lot of decades in a cupboard. I don't think the black colour on the heel and back of the neck is original, I'm guessing someone had tried to remedy the neck bow some decades ago and had done a ham fisted job of it. the fretboard tounge has a drop off planed into it - totally the wrong fix for the problem in hand, unfortunately whoever did it failed to recut the fret slots so the tangs wouldn't sink fully until I had sorted this. The mother of pearl dots are not original, the original plastic ones failed under the heat needed to separate the fingerboard and had to be replaced. I'm puzzled about the finish, which has cracked like a very hard early PU or cellulose lacquer, but where it has flaked the flakes are golden and very fine, looking very much like shellac. it also behaves like shellac during polishing.

    the instrument can be heard in this vid: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9tqj...el=BudeStrings
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    Last edited by BudeStrings; Mar-19-2021 at 7:09am.

  11. #9

    Default Re: Mandolin by Cousenon a mirecourt

    A good way to ascertain an instruments age is from its tuners- they are clearly original on your mandolin. Those pale yellow buttons are typical and again are common in the 1950s. What was used in the 1930s, I cannot suggest- they may have been used in the 1930s as well.

    This link shows an old ad with mandolin tuners but no date:

    https://guitarejazzmanouche.com/foru...ic.php?t=35681

    Edit: Delarouelle tuners get discussed over at Djangobooks.com and somebody at that site might be able to shed light on your mandolin- either the instrument or the approximate age of the tuners. https://www.djangobooks.com/forum/di...aruelle-tuners
    Last edited by NickR; Mar-19-2021 at 11:09am.

  12. #10
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin by Cousenon a mirecourt

    Thanks for the name of the Delarouelle tuners. I think my DiMauro mandolin I mentioned in post #4 has those tuners. Also, that site with the undated catalog is on that amazing Terrier site I linked to in that same post. Here are pics of my DiMauro tuners.

    Click image for larger version. 

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  13. #11

    Default Re: Mandolin by Cousenon a mirecourt

    Jim, have you got a fix on the age of your DiMauro mandolin and do the tuners work contrary to the norm? They do on my Couesnon guitars- the six string had one original and one replacement set which was annoying and I was lucky enough to get a decent set of replacements that are configured in the normal fashion.

  14. #12
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin by Cousenon a mirecourt

    Not sure of the age but, yes, the tuners work in reverse of what I am used to. I can deal with it if I have to. I should have it restored eventually.
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  15. #13

    Default Re: Mandolin by Cousenon a mirecourt

    I do love the yellow tuners (bakelite?) on vintage French mandolins. Here is my Louis Patenotte mandolin (also based in Mirecourt region) - unfortunately, difficult to find information on the French luthiers. Click image for larger version. 

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  16. #14
    Registered User poul hansen's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin by Cousenon a mirecourt

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  17. #15

    Default Re: Mandolin by Cousenon a mirecourt

    the tuners on mine are the same as the delaruelle ones used by DiMauro which places it between 1930 and 1960. they do not work in reverse but it's not uncommon for pre 1950 instruments, i've seen it a lot. my 1880s clifford essex tunes in reverse. i just don't think people were paying a lot of attention to how the rails were fitted. the plastic on the pegs looks like an early polystyrene polyethylene or nylon, the colour seems consistent with early aromatic polymers, as does the lacquer.

    a 1950s build seems reasonable but, research suggests that after WW2 the company only had around 30 of it's 1000 employees left, cousenon of mirecourt ceased violin production in 1956 and shut its doors forever in 1967 after producing very little for over a decade. it seems more likely to me this was made before WW2, when production was at a much higher level.

    I have yet to find a single reference to cousenon making mandolins. maybe it's a custom build?

  18. #16

    Default Re: Mandolin by Cousenon a mirecourt

    My first impression was that it was a 60's instrument, based only on your pictures. The screwed-on pickguard seems like a cost saving measure, possibly a company struggling? Not sure, anyway the older ones pictured online are glued-on, as one would expect. Not sure what is going on with the finish, but again based on other stringed instruments they produced -- none have that degree of shine, FWIW. Could be the "world's cleanest example" but more than likely something else is going on. I will say in the early days of the vintage guitar boom (late 70's/early 80's) many instruments were wet-sanded and buffed to achieve a like-new finish on a vintage instrument -- often, resulting in a shinier finish than it ever left the factory with, so maybe something like that is going on. FWIW, Gruhn's was a major offender for wet-sanding and buffing -- I have some old receipts around here that show it was a common practice. Nowadays that would seem a barbaric thing to do to a vintage instrument's finish, but back then the blind were leading the blind and they didn't really know the best approach. I remember a former employer criticizing my work after I cleaned an instrument -- he said, "you raised the condition two whole grades, but you removed the former owner's "vibe" by doing so!" A tough lession, but I always think of that before (over) cleaning a vintage instrument.

    Like I say, just my first impression, FWIW. If you could find another with the same style label, that might narrow it down. As others have said, the tuners are about all you have to go on, so it is doubtful the instrument was made before the era of the tuners.....

  19. #17
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin by Cousenon a mirecourt

    Quote Originally Posted by BudeStrings View Post
    I have yet to find a single reference to cousenon making mandolins. maybe it's a custom build?
    I am guessing that Couesnon (correct spelling) was equally a distributor as a builder, but probably built some instruments in-house. Very similar to US's Lyon & Healy who sourced some instruments from outside but also built in-house.

    From the Terrier site, 1934 Catalog page:

    Via Google Translate:
    This catalog includes the Léon Bernardel brand, absorbed by Couesnon in 1913. The company was then domiciled in Paris and Mirecourt. It says it was founded in 1834, drawing inspiration from its Gautrod roots. The commercial director is Mr. E Vincent-Genod.

    The trademarks are numerous, some banal like Breton, Marquis de l'air, but also original like H Blaise, Arthur Parisot, S Estevant, Ludovicus Meurot, Gourrier, Bernez and Cherpitel.

    The copies are numerous, of Stradivarius, Guarnérisus, Amati, Guadagnini, Stainer, Deconet, Goffriler, Bergonzi, San Seraphino, Vuillaume, Lupot, Montegalio (?), Pressenda, Klotz.

    The bows are called Tourte, Lupot, Parisot, Léon Bernardel, A Voirin fils.

    The mandolins are from Rafaele Disantino, but also Uryluth, Dupaquy guitars for a model made in Mirecourt, and Alphonso Guerita for guitars imported from Spain. A Jazz guitar is named Honolulu, and the Florida and Broadway banjos.
    From the discussion of trademarks on Terrier site:
    The third large Mirecurtian violin-making company is the COUESNON company. She comes from the large company GAUTROT de Paris and Château Thierry, whose best known boss is Pierre Louis GAUTROD, born in 1845 and not in Mirecourt in 1830 as René VANNE tells us. It was he who founded the Château THIERRY factory in 1865.

    It seems that this factory already existed in Paris in 1845, only for brass, since a GAUTROT succeeded GUICHARD that year.

    At the end of the 19th century, GAUTROT employed two hundred workers at Château Thierry. It is from 1885 that this company launches into the violin making, with the entry of Maurice MERMILLOT in the workshop of PARIS. This luthier, a pupil of Charles GAILLARD, then of Jean Baptiste VUILLAUME, worked at GUADAGNINI in Turin, at GAND-BERNARDEL, and settled in Paris in 1876. He followed the example of Nicolas VUILLAUME, Charles BUTHOD and Auguste DARTE, in dedicating himself to industry, after learning the craft. We see that Jean Baptiste VUILLAUME has a primordial influence in the emergence of industry. The need for inexpensive instruments was surely great in Paris at this time.
    GAUTROT then COUESNON employ workers and apprentices such as Alfred Joseph LAMY, Georges BRUBACH, André COINUS, Emile GOURRIER or Paul SERDET.

    In 1887, COUESNON succeeded GAUTROT, and in 1901, Georges CHERPITE, from THIBOUVILLE, succeeded MERMILLOT, who died and took over the management of the Parisian workshops. In 1912, COUESNON publishes a small format catalog , presenting itself more as an educational book. It includes many models of violins, and beautiful color reproductions.

    There are few trademarks there, apart from 'LE MIRECOURIEN', the 'NICOLAS' model, the inevitable 'MARQUIS DE L'AIR' and 'BRETON', and imitations of Italian and French authors. Some of these violins are obviously made in Mirecourt, although the company does not yet have a workshop there.

    In 1913, COUESNON absorbs Léon BERNARDEL, apprentice of Justin DERAZEY and pupil of GAND BERNARDEL who has been living in Paris since 1898. The company name becomes COUESNON and Léon BERNARDEL Réunis. In 1925, it will also be called a public limited company 'La Lutherie Lorraine' and will be established in Mirecourt. Emile GOURRIER and Gaston BERNEZ, who had created a company together in 1922 will be the bosses.

    The 1934 catalog is rich in trademarks. We find of course, 'BRETON' and 'MARQUIS DE L'AIR, but also some others like:' H BLAISE ',' Arthur PARISOT ',' Ludovicus MEUROT ',' S ESTEVANT ', countless copies, signed violins CHERPITEL, GOURRIER, BERNEZ and of course, many Léon BERNARDEL models.

    This company still existed in 1956 in Mirecourt, but soon closed its violin-making workshops, to limit itself to its first activity as a wind instrument maker, in Chateau Thierry.
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  21. #18

    Default Re: Mandolin by Cousenon a mirecourt

    The mandolin has a different label to my guitar which I date to the early/mid-1960s. As I mentioned above, I posted up a link which showed a guitar with the same label as the mandolin featured- and the info on the guitar suggested 1950s. I can discern a "family" resemblance to my nylon string guitar which although battered has what I believe may be the same sort of finish to the top. I would be surprised if this mandolin was earlier than the very late 40s.

    Edit: I have found an earlier- possibly judging by what Jeff Mando suggests, version of the Couesnon mandolin. This one does not have a zero fret as far as I can tell and the guard is glued.


    Click image for larger version. 

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    Last edited by NickR; Mar-27-2021 at 3:17pm.

  22. #19
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin by Cousenon a mirecourt

    This may be the ultimate clue of the origin and the maker of your mandolin. Actually, it is the same one that NickR found but it is a Couesnon mandolin attributed to Rafaele Disantino. And the quote from the Terrier site said that they sold mandolins made by Disantino as well as others.

    This is from this page of an old auction entitled, 8 String Rafaele Disantino Couesnon Studios Mandolin Mirecourt (France) Circa 1930

    Headstock, tuners, overall shape is very similar to BudeString's mandolin.

    Of course, the auction folks have this attributed as "8 string mandolin by the Rafaele Disantino brand made in the Couesnon studios in Mirecourt, France. Circa 1930."

    So maybe made by Couesnon with Disantino branding or vice versa?
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  23. #20

    Default Re: Mandolin by Cousenon a mirecourt

    It's a shame there is no photo of the label- I could not find one-I did caption the photo I posted as Rafaele Disantino Couesnon Studios. I did find another Couesnon guitar with the label in this mandolin- and it was attributed to the 1960s. Here is the link:https://leshop-lyon.fr/en/4606/jazz-...ourt-jazz.html

  24. #21

    Default Re: Mandolin by Cousenon a mirecourt

    Just posting a link to the Museum of Lutherie in Mirecourt - it has some interesting photos of French mandolins - perhaps they might have some knowledge? http://musee-lutherie-mirecourt.fr/i...u=5&idpage=27#

  25. #22

    Default Re: Mandolin by Cousenon a mirecourt

    Lots of great info here, thank you guys.

    Jeff Mando - I don't think it's a 1960s instrument - i see a lot of 1960s guitars and mandolins, and this feels older. It also doesn't look like it's been repolished as there is some very original looking cracking in the top and on the heel.

    Jim Garber - I did find some of that history regarding cousenon, and it does by way of probability seem to preclude the instrument having been made after 1960.
    Cateaux Thierry seemed to be having a hay day around 1930.

    NickR - i am fairly confident this instrument is pre 1950 and i'm not sure what production of any kind would have been going on in paris in the years immediately after ww2, so the early 30s seem more likely than the late 40s. I don't think the screwed pick guard is problematic, I have seen this on a bunch of old instruemnts, some of quite high quality. at any rate, the screws do appear to have considerable age.

    Ukcarrie - thanks for the link, I will contact the museum.

  26. #23

    Default Re: Mandolin by Cousenon a mirecourt

    Here is an old French flat back with a canted top and slot head. I would definitely date this one as older than the mandolin in question here but I would struggle to give it a definite date- it may be pre-war or early post war, I am not sure. I cannot read the name- it may relate to Venice, I don't know.

    https://www.ebay.de/itm/Alte-franzos...4AAOSwKtRgZYsU

  27. #24
    Registered User Bruce Clausen's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin by Cousenon a mirecourt

    La vésuvienne?

    https://www.gazette-drouot.com/en/lots/6736039

    So not Venice, but Naples.

  28. #25

    Default Re: Mandolin by Cousenon a mirecourt

    Yes, that's it- back at school as a kid, I would have been admonished for such a lack of clarity in my handwriting! Okay, so maybe time has worn away some of the definition. Let's hope- unlike the volcano it is named after, it has less potential to explode! I have a feeling, the one in the auction you posted may be a little older with its snakehead but that is conjecture- "about 1930" it is reckoned in the blurb.

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