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Thread: Fry’s Mandolin (L. Ricca employees) ???

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    Default Fry’s Mandolin (L. Ricca employees) ???

    I purchased a bowl back mandolin at an estate auction. Can’t find anything on it. Label inside reads:
    “Fry’s Mandolines are guaranteed to be made by former Employees of L. Ricca”

    Anyone know the story?

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  3. #2

    Default Re: Fry’s Mandolin (L. Ricca employees) ???

    Luigi Ricca made mandolins in New York from ~1886 to 1900s. I don't know about the Fry's part of it. My first guesses two guesses are either a split-off of disgruntled employees or an attempt to carry on after he had passed. I'd lean to the latter since they are playing up the association.

    There is quite a bit of historical stuff about L. Ricca mandolins, including a catalog online.

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    Full Grown and Cussin' brunello97's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fry’s Mandolin (L. Ricca employees) ???

    Thanks, Jed. That is super interesting.

    There are numerous discussions here concerning Luigi Ricca's mandolins and operations. IIRC he was also involved in the piano business to some extent...not sure whether that was in fabrication or distribution.

    Our friend, Jim Garber, probably has the most info on-hand about Ricca's work so hopefully he sees this thread and joins in.

    Meanwhile....can you post a few photos of your mandolin and in particular the label.

    We'd love to see that!

    Mick
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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fry’s Mandolin (L. Ricca employees) ???

    Yes, that Ricca catalog is mine. My guess is eventually Ricca ended his mandolin and guitar making and moved to NJ to make pianos. Reports I have read said that he had over 200 employees which would have been unlikely for a mandolin manufacturer. Pianos might account for that. I find no mention of Fry mandolins any where. There were a number of mandolin makers who had labels saying "disciple of L. Ricca." It is possible that some employees opens a shop soon after they left Ricca's but that might have been a short-lived business. Someone could check New York City directories to see any mention of a shop under Fry's name.

    Here is a prior thread on L. Ricca mandolins.

    Jed23: care to post some photos?
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    Default Re: Fry’s Mandolin (L. Ricca employees) ???

    Not to create a diversion, but I've never looked into the Ricca family's piano dealings before. Perhaps it has been discussed here?

    I found this informative (if accurate) little bit:

    "Ricca (Ricca & Son): Luigi Ricca, an accomplished luthier, immigrated to the U.S. in 1886 and settled in New York City. He soon found employment at the German Conservatory of Music (possibly today's Brooklyn[-Queens] Conservatory of Music), where he taught mandolin and guitar. A natural outgrowth of his job and his background as a luthier was to manufacture these instruments. First production of the Ricca firm was mandolins and mandolas, both known for superb quality. The company's factory was known by locals as "The Banjo Works," which I hope the Ricca family took in good grace because it probably was not meant as a denigration.

    While at the Conservatory, Luigi decided the quality of pianos available at that time was quite low, so he decided to branch out into piano manufacturing (1898). A piano factory was established in what is now Kenilworth, New Jersey. Ricca primarily produced uprights (most were player-pianos); a few grands also were made.

    The Riccas appear to have had keen business sense, working as distributors as well as manufacturers. Not only did they build pianos, it appears that son Hugo also traveled the U.S., demonstrating the instrument and selling it directly. In 1903, they picked up the Regal line (see separate entry) from Smith American; (see separate entry). I don't know whether Smith American continued to manufacture the piano.

    In 1907, Ricca contracted with Mendelssohn Music Company, a retail concern, such that Mendelssohn would sell only Ricca pianos. After Luigi's death in 1917, Hugo took over and, by all accounts, ran the business well. The company was dissolved about 1940. While the instrument enjoyed an excellent reputation in its day, a Ricca piano would need major restoration to be playable now. No. American.
    "

    Other piano sites suggest an earlier start, perhaps with the purchase of an existing maker (Ludwig).

    Attached is a screen capture from another site with some further background on la famiglia Ricca.

    Mick
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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fry’s Mandolin (L. Ricca employees) ???

    Mick: I linked to an older thread above with some links to a piano book that discussed that subject. You even commented or was it your doppelgänger?
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    Default Re: Fry’s Mandolin (L. Ricca employees) ???

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    Mick: I linked to an older thread above with some links to a piano book that discussed that subject. You even commented or was it your doppelgänger?
    Your comment about "200 employees" got me thinking.
    I think I was just being lazy and thought I'd punch in "Ricca Piano" again and see what turned up.
    It's a task to keep that many people busy doing anything.

    Mick
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