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Thread: Crazy Catania Creation!

  1. #1

    Default Crazy Catania Creation!

    For those who want to make a visual impact. The tuners look 1930s but it could be post war. The photos tell all- let's hope it sounds good after all that decoration. It may be in the category we have in Britain that is described as "all fur coat and no knickers".

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/33414712118...sAAOSw7QBhP1Lq

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  3. #2
    bon vivant jaycat's Avatar
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    Default Re: Crazy Catania Creation!

    That would be perfect for me, since rarely mandolin is what I play.
    "The paths of experimentation twist and turn through mountains of miscalculations, and often lose themselves in error and darkness!"
    --Leslie Daniel, "The Brain That Wouldn't Die."

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    Professional Dreamer journeybear's Avatar
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    Default Re: Crazy Catania Creation!

    I've noticed before that there is a tendency among bowlback builders to put a lot of time and effort into the decoration. This is an example of how far in that direction some are willing to go. Was it commonly accepted that they had reached the limit as far as structural considerations were concerned, so the emphasis shifted to appearances? Questions for those more well-versed in these areas than I. But I have to say, the carved figurehead is extraordinary. I wonder whether that was a representation of the customer, or the bulder, or some revered historical figure such as Beethoven? As to structure, how unusual is that piece at the bottom? I don't recall seeing that before.

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  5. #4
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Crazy Catania Creation!

    Many "presentation" instruments made over the years (hey, check out Martin's D-100 guitar). Some made to compete in expositions and World's Fairs, some made for celebrity clients, some -- honestly -- just made to show the builder's skills off, draw more customers.

    Take a look at the decoration of some of the Vietnam-built instruments sold regularly on eBay. Some love bling, and a small instrument like a mandolin is easier to "tart up" than, say, a piano. Of course, Liberace had some pretty "tarted up" pianos, for sure. But there was a vogue for heavily decorated instruments 125 years ago or so, just an uptick in a trend that goes back centuries -- look at this 17th-century French guitar.

    I've never heard that a heapin' helping of mother-of-pearl made any acoustic difference at all -- but I just bought a Stelling banjo that had nearly every piece of metal on it engraved and gold-plated. Competing male birds show off their plumage; maybe competing 19th-century mandolinists, or mandolin makers, liked to show off their inlaying and engraving talent.
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    Professional Dreamer journeybear's Avatar
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    Default Re: Crazy Catania Creation!

    I guess the idea was to make their instruments as pretty as possible in order to attract 1) attention; 2) acclaim; 3) sales. If the quality of construction had peaked, then decoration would be the next step in garnering public interest.
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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Crazy Catania Creation!

    Nothing has changed. There are still folks Who are blinded by the glitz vs. impressed by the tone.
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    Professional Dreamer journeybear's Avatar
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    Default Re: Crazy Catania Creation!

    So true. 'Twas ever thus, and 'tis yet true. Though this builder really went for it ...

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  12. #8

    Default Re: Crazy Catania Creation!

    It wasnít public interest. If you look through a good museum collection of almost any objects, decoration, exotic materials and very clear evidence of exceptional human labor and skill, is everywhere. In furniture, clocks, tapestries, ceramics, sculpture. Most of the things were intended for royal or wealthy owners, and probably never seen by the public.
    Elaboration (bling if you will) used to be clear evidence of cost. It isnít anymore, so the emphasis in expensive stuff shifts constantly and often weirdly these days.
    There is a hangover in mechanical watches, if youíve noticed that whole culture, as it seems attractive to some to hold hundreds of hours of skilled labor by skilled serfs in their hands. Function there, of course, is vastly secondary.
    The other area, one I know something about, is antique tools, with very elaborated versions intended for expositions, again to demonstrate value, but also to promote sales of the more workaday items. So there are handplanes sporting the same sort of sculpted heads, copious use of ivory, engraving, and yes, rare woods. By the mid- 20th century, I think, these had mostly faded as marketing necessities. What remains are some valued collectibles.

    Iím only lately thinking much about instruments, and mostly about ones with strings, so honestly I have some trouble salivating over superb finishes, use of spectacular woods, or even mandolins with scrolls and points, and I donít get offended by the crassness of abalone dragons either. So if somebodyís soul is elevated by candy-apple metallic, thatís just fine.

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    Full Grown and Cussin' brunello97's Avatar
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    Default Re: Crazy Catania Creation!

    I think it's fantastic, Nick, thanks for posting.

    I don't see this as bling or falling into the "presentation grade" mandolins we see from up north in Italy or the US, encrusted with MOP or MOTS.

    This is from Sicily, a far cry from Napoli or Roma or Westchester County.

    Ornament isn't an indulgence, it's a way of life.

    Do I think the design is totally resolved?

    No, it needs a little adjustment, but bravo!

    The tone is another thing. Plenty of unadorned Italian mandolins have banal tone.

    Certainly many Italian mandolins praised for their tone have banal, if inept visual design.

    And then there's Pasquale Pecoraro.

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    Default Re: Crazy Catania Creation!

    I think in Catania the various makers may have had an unspoken rivalry where some would try to bedazzle the others- you see the most outrageous guitars and this is the mandolin equivalent! There is a label but the seller is not mentioning what is on it, which is a shame so we don't know the maker.

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  17. #11
    Professional Dreamer journeybear's Avatar
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    Default Re: Crazy Catania Creation!

    Well, anyone interested better git off the fence and into the fray. Because there's less'n ten minutes left and bidding is up over $400!!!
    But that's just my opinion. I could be wrong. - Dennis Miller

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  18. #12
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    Default Re: Crazy Catania Creation!

    ....... and the winner more than doubled that! ($898.00)

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  20. #13
    Professional Dreamer journeybear's Avatar
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    Default Re: Crazy Catania Creation!

    Well, someone done got hisself a fine, eye-catching, conversation-starting wall hanging. Hope he's insanely happy, and not just insane.

    I mean, that is more than I paid for either of my teens Gibson A models, even more than I paid for my 1916 H-2 mandola, with the appropriate amount of tastefully understated bling. Granted, I pounced on that mandola in the late 80s-early 90s, but the plain A buys were just 7 and 13 years ago. But to each his own, I guess. Perhaps the buyer got hypnotized - I can see that happening, for sure.
    But that's just my opinion. I could be wrong. - Dennis Miller

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