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Thread: 1924 Lloyd Loar at Elderly Instruments

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    Default 1924 Lloyd Loar at Elderly Instruments

    Crazy question, and I may be dreaming a bit, but: Anyone in the Cafe know anything about the 1924-signed Lloyd Loar F5 that Elderly Instruments seems to have had on consignment for awhile? Not that I can necessarily afford it, but I am looking at some investment opportunities and curious if this might be worth my consideration. Except for maybe when I first got ahold of it, I would probably let it sit for 4 or 5 years unplayed and then market it. It sounds as if it is in good condition; the frets have been replaced, but apparently is otherwise in great shape. I feel sure there are much better investment opportunities out there, but having a Lloyd Loar, if only as an investment, is tempting.

    Anyway, does anyone have additional information about this mandolin?

    Thanks!!
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    Default Re: 1924 Lloyd Loar at Elderly Instruments

    Dave... feel free to send me a private message through the Forum. While I have not played this particular F5, I have owned many and have played over 100 Loar instruments. I can probably lend you a hand if you're interested. I live here in Bellingham.

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    Default Re: 1924 Lloyd Loar at Elderly Instruments

    That strategy might not pan out. If you bought one 4-5 years ago with plans to sell now, you would lose a lot. Prices have been going down steadily for Loars.

    That said, the stock market is not much better these days. Hopefully that will bounce back. Good luck with it. I wish I was in a financial situation where I could seriously consider making such a purchase. Please don't let it sit unplayed for 4-5 years if you do buy one.

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    Default Re: 1924 Lloyd Loar at Elderly Instruments

    A bit too rich for my blood. But pleasant to look at and dream about all the same.

    It does have an entry at the Mandolin Archive, with a great number of photos.

    Also, it has a Virzi, and a 1926 shipment date, if anyone is wondering. Dan also says this, which I, as a layman, find puzzling, though experts may understand as no big thing, for all I know: "peculiar date, serial number appears to be altered, but likely factory."
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    Default Re: 1924 Lloyd Loar at Elderly Instruments

    I just looked this instrument up in the archive.
    A reason that it is being called "peculiar" is that all other documented instruments with a March 31, 1924 date have serial numbers in the 75,000's and 76,000's. But the serial number of this instrument is 79824. I would consider a letter of authentication by a top tier authority to be necessary for this particular instrument.

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    As far as the instrument market is concerned, it has fragmented and is behaving differently than it did from 1990 to 2008.

    Beginning in the early 1990's, everything went up steadily until the 2008 crash.
    After the crash, most prices dropped, then went flat.
    Some prices dropped more than others.

    A few years ago, prices on some, but not all things started to creep up.
    Then, a feeding frenzy began in the electric and acoustic guitar markets about 1 1/2 to 2 years ago and prices increased aggressively. Mandolins and banjos have not increased at the same rates as guitars.
    There are signs that the feeding frenzy might be levelling off.
    I'm not going to try to predict the market for the future.

    I do know that several Loars have sold within the past year.

    Current listed asking prices for Loar F-5's on the public market vary between $120k and $177k.
    There are also a couple of public listings with no price specified.

    You are welcome to pm me for more information.
    Last edited by rcc56; Jun-01-2022 at 12:08am.

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    Default Re: 1924 Lloyd Loar at Elderly Instruments

    In general, buying things like art and antiques in hopes that their value will increase is a bad investment strategy. While there are plenty of success stories, they're far outweighed by the failures.

    If you'd get enjoyment out of ownership and *hope* that the value will be preserved and maybe even increase, then go for it, if you can afford it. But don't pretend to yourself that you're making a sound investment. Things like this are too whimsical; the market changes radically all the time. Things that were coveted yesterday and got a premium price are often forgotten tomorrow. You have no way of knowing whether you're buying at a peak or dip in the long term price curve.

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    Default Re: 1924 Lloyd Loar at Elderly Instruments

    You might send Bill Halsey a note, I know he has looked at and taken some measurements of that one. Just a suggestion.
    I tend to agree with Jeff about the investment aspect. That market has been very very “fluid” as in so many things when buying at or, near retail the available margin is extremely limited.
    I used to have people come in and want to buy “a diamond” for investment which was like spending a thousand dollars in tackle and ending up with fifty dollars worth of fish. The point is unless you have time to really sit and wait for the market to peak which might be seventy years, buy it because you love it, not, as an investment.
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    Default Re: 1924 Lloyd Loar at Elderly Instruments

    I'd buy it if you wanted to play it and were ok breaking even at a later date. I wouldn't count on the value increasing. Heck, they were going for significantly more a few years ago. I seem to remember them being listed north of 200k back when Thile bought his first one, and from my understanding many are selling for significantly less than the list prices you see on these websites.

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    Default Re: 1924 Lloyd Loar at Elderly Instruments

    Quote Originally Posted by Old Dog Dave View Post
    ... the 1924-signed Lloyd Loar F5 that Elderly Instruments seems to have had on consignment for awhile? ... I feel sure there are much better investment opportunities out there, but having a Lloyd Loar, if only as an investment, is tempting.
    I'd bet that most Loar F-5's have been on consignment for quite a while these days.

    If you sort Elderly's 101 mandolin family instruments by arrival date old to new, that Loar comes up as #1 --- just like when you sort them by price. At Carter's, two of the four Loar F-5's that they have in stock have been there so long that they are now marked with "PRICE DROP." All five of those Loars are now in the $120-150K range, which, as others have mentioned, is about 30-50% less than they were going for 10-15 years ago.

    With all the wealth in the US and the world these days, it says a lot to me that no megamillionaire has gone into Carter's and offered $450K to empty out their Loar inventory, if the prices are likely to soon rise significantly.
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    Default Re: 1924 Lloyd Loar at Elderly Instruments

    My thanks to all of you for your thoughtful and wise responses. As a senior citizen, any investments I make need to yield a little bit over the next few years--in 15 or 20 years the odds are vastly against my still being around; for that matter, I will beat the odds if I am around in 10. I don't mean to sound morbid at all--my academic pursuit many, many years ago was in the vastly marketable (haha) study of Philosophy, a pursuit which has yielded no financial benefit but a lot of personal satisfaction. With that said, I am a pretty happy guy and each day I wake up I consider a success. I attribute any longevity to living a largely stress-free life, and music has a lot to do with that. The icing on the cake for me, musically, is seeing and hearing all of the younger folks who are taking a real interest in acoustic based music--folk, bluegrass, Americana, etc. What a treat to hear folks like Watchhouse, Sierra Hull, Billy Strings, etc. Anyway, I'm getting a bit off topic. As for investing in a Loar at this stage of the game, I can't afford to buy it for playing purposes, and I have to agree with those of you who have opined that it would be a risky investment.

    In any case, thank y'all for your responses, which are most appreciated. Now, I'm gonna get back to listening to Robert Johnson--right now he's doing "Preaching Blues". The best ever, imho.
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    Default Re: 1924 Lloyd Loar at Elderly Instruments

    Regarding the interesting topic of mandolins as investments, I was recently the beneficiary of one such investment decision.

    A man in my area advertised to sell a super-blingy old bowlback on Facebook Marketplace. The price had dropped a lot by the time I went to look at it last year. It was a circa 1900 instrument bearing the label of Peter Benson of Minneapolis, and the seller explained that his late wife had bought it around 30 years ago as an investment for $1K. It sat unused in its case from then until the moment I saw it. It has 32 ribs, ornate everything, the original owner's name set in mother of pearl on the fretboard, and best of all it sounds wonderful. It seems hardly to have been played. That has changed, because I bought it for a modest sum. Undoubtedly it was a bad investment choice by the seller's wife, but I am grateful she bought and guarded it.

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    Default Re: 1924 Lloyd Loar at Elderly Instruments

    jethai, Given that you paid far less than for a Loar signed F-5, it may still be a wise purchase (if not an investment strategy). At the risk of hijacking this thread, I would like to see some pics. Thanks !!

    Len B.
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    Default Re: 1924 Lloyd Loar at Elderly Instruments

    I think there is quite a lot of conflict between the notions of buying a mandolin as an investment and buying one as a player. It seems like the former would seriously impinge on the latter. One would be rather apprehensive about playing it anywhere where it might get damaged, either by an audience member, some random act such as dropping it, or by the owner, scuffing it up somehow. Would that limit it to being played in a safe environment, such as one's living room? And where's the fun in that? Not that playing for the sake of playing isn't enjoyable in and of itself, but part of the fun of having such a fine instrument would be playing it so others could hear it and go wow, as well as showing it off. I know a lot of F-5 owners tour with them, and it's important for them to have the best instrument so they can sound the best they possibly can. It would make me awfully nervous if that were me. Heck, I have a hard enough time with my 1922 F-4. I would think, though, that for these people, the provenance of them having owned it would offset any damage accrued during that time, if the owner would ever want to sell it. Most of us aren't in that position, though, and it having been owned by someone not immensely famous won't mean doodly come selling time. BUT if you want one of these humdingers, and you've got the wherewithal, go for it. Enjoy it, care for it, and preserve its historical integrity. And if you ever become famous sometime down the road, then it may well turn out to have been a good investment.
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    Default Re: 1924 Lloyd Loar at Elderly Instruments

    While my pockets are no where deep enough for a Loar, I have picked up instruments from time to time that had scary big prices. If subsequent thoughts of selling them arose, even at a profit, that recovery consistently seemed trivial, relatively speaking, and it was often simpler just to keep them. The money just looked bigger before laying it out than it did afterward.

    In other words, if I had enough to buy a Loar as an investment, I'd have enough to buy one as a player. In that case, even though my knees were knocking, I'd just buy it, play it, and enjoy it. You can't take the Loar or the money with you, and the future will take care of itself.

    Or as a friend once put it, musical instruments aren't where you want investment, but they can be a good place to park money.
    Last edited by j4music; Jun-01-2022 at 10:42pm.

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    Default Re: 1924 Lloyd Loar at Elderly Instruments

    Basically, you can't pay retail and make a quick profit. Over time, maybe. But it might take years and could easily go the other way.

    People who bought a new Stratocaster in the 60's have seen their investment grow many times over in 50+ years. People who bought a "vintage" 60's Strat in the 80's also got to see their "investment" actually become an investment. And, for years the vintage guitar market only seemed to go up. It was safe money. Then around 2008 prices went down and people stopped buying overnight.

    I don't think you get into investing on a whim. People who do well study the market hours every day to make some sense of it. Thile lost money on his Loars, but he is in a position to do so, by writing it off, so no biggee. Plus, he appreciates them and has enjoyed playing them. Most of us are not in that position.

    Any old horse-trader will tell you the only way to be assured of making money is to make it on the front end -- in other words, find a motivated seller, someone who needs cash or has lost interest and hammer them on the negotiation. Sounds harsh, but that is how people stay in business. Buying from a vintage shop, while the selection is good, as a middle-man they have less motivation to wheel and deal, IMHO. I say the only sure way, actually there is no sure way -- an instrument can easily be dropped, stepped on, or broken by accident -- so, there's that....

    Hard to say what the "magic" price is if you could reach the owner, not the retailer. For example, I don't buy houses, but I buy them if they are half price. YMMV.

    Good luck! Certainly would be a great thing to own if you are not thinking of it as an investment and can afford it, IMHO.

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    Default Re: 1924 Lloyd Loar at Elderly Instruments

    The high-priced “vintage” instruments we drool about started out as pretty good but utterly common production instruments. They got played, generally not coddled, because there way no way to know that they might [ !!! ] appreciate by a factor of 200 or 300 or much more if they were kept in mint condition. For every one that eventually fell into the “investment” category there were hundreds that were built on that same production line in that same week that went by the wayside. So, assuming you want to get one before its value skyrockets, which one or two of those hundreds should you have bought and kept?
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    Default Re: 1924 Lloyd Loar at Elderly Instruments

    If I were buying an instrument for investment, I would avoid the one at Elderly because the inconsistencies with the date and serial number would reduce the number of potential future buyers. Buyers of truly collectable instruments have become very picky, and many of them won't consider buying anything that could be considered irregular, especially on 6 figure instruments.

    This instrument is most likely to end up in the hands of a wealthy player who likes the way it sounds and feels and doesn't care whether or not it will increase or decrease in value. Most investors [if there are any right now] will prefer a clean instrument with a date and number that fits in with the norm. And they might not even care whether or not it sounds and plays well.

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    Default Re: 1924 Lloyd Loar at Elderly Instruments

    Quote Originally Posted by rcc56 View Post
    If I were buying an instrument for investment, I would avoid the one at Elderly because the inconsistencies with the date and serial number would reduce the number of potential future buyers. Buyers of truly collectable instruments have become very picky, and many of them won't consider buying anything that could be considered irregular, especially on 6 figure instruments.
    I think there is no question about authenticity of this mandolin. It ticks all boxes of a March 24 Loar. Typical floor sweep binding work with mismatched materials and obviously also workmanship of several folks working at Gibson at different times. I guess the serial number was faded and someone wrote over it through f hole and he likely misread the original number. For anyone it is simple thing to visit a good luthier and look underneath the label (steam it) to reveal number written on the back (and write it correctly on the label) .
    Adrian

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    Default Re: 1924 Lloyd Loar at Elderly Instruments

    Didn’t Chris Thile pay 1/2 a million for his? (Not saying it’s a bad investment. He’ll never sell them I’m guessing). But prices seem to have crashed. Also I’m pretty sure Norman’s rare guitars still has one they’ve had for a few years (others will know for sure). I asked a while back how hard it is to buy a loar and one of the experts here said at any one time there’s about 15 for sale. So it’s a lively market. But a falling one.
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    Default Re: 1924 Lloyd Loar at Elderly Instruments

    There is also the fact that the fretboard will almost certainly not intonate accurately.
    So you have immediately purchased three new problems;
    A very expensive instrument
    That doesn't play in tune
    That changing anything original on affects it's resale value.
    It has had new frets, but that doesn't necessarily mean that they got corrected.
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    Default Re: 1924 Lloyd Loar at Elderly Instruments

    Quote Originally Posted by David Lewis View Post
    Didn’t Chris Thile pay 1/2 a million for his? ...
    Clearly no!!! While the information is out there to check that itīs not true, I think that we should not get rumor mill turning.

    What I like about this forum is the accuracy of most contributors and the willingness of experts to freely share their knowledge. It should stay that way.

    Chris Thile bought two Lloyd Loar mandolins, #75316 and #75318 if I am not mistaken. I do not know the purchase price. But in 2012 there was no Lloyd Loar mandolin advertised for over 250.000,- USD. The most expensive Lloyd Loar mandolin that I can remember was advertised by Elderly Instruments for 250.000,- USD around 2008 or so. The July 9 Bill Monroe Lloyd Loar F-5 was sold by the estate in 2002 for $1.125 million and is now in the Country Music Hall of Fame.

    The "London Interview" (Dan Beimborn) is quite instructive concerning the Feb. 18 Loar (and its history): https://www.mandolincafe.com/news/pu...s_001436.shtml

    The mandolin was probably payed for by the funds rewarded to Thile through the McArthur grant:


    https://www.macfound.org/fellows/cla...#searchresults

    This should settle any misconception.
    Last edited by grassrootphilosopher; Jun-02-2022 at 4:46am.
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    Default Re: 1924 Lloyd Loar at Elderly Instruments

    Dave, as you're a Robert Johnson fan, how about a nice Kalamazoo kg14 and a Gibson L1 as featured in his photographs ? You'd get both for 10K.

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    Default Re: 1924 Lloyd Loar at Elderly Instruments

    Up
    Quote Originally Posted by grassrootphilosopher View Post
    Clearly no!!! While the information is out there to check that itīs not true, I think that we should not get rumor mill turning.

    What I like about this forum is the accuracy of most contributors and the willingness of experts to freely share their knowledge. It should stay that way.

    Chris Thile bought two Lloyd Loar mandolins, #75316 and #75318 if I am not mistaken. I do not know the purchase price. But in 2012 there was no Lloyd Loar mandolin advertised for over 250.000,- USD. The most expensive Lloyd Loar mandolin that I can remember was advertised by Elderly Instruments for 250.000,- USD around 2008 or so. The July 9 Bill Monroe Lloyd Loar F-5 was sold by the estate in 2002 for $1.125 million and is now in the Country Music Hall of Fame.

    The "London Interview" (Dan Beimborn) is quite instructive concerning the Feb. 18 Loar (and its history): https://www.mandolincafe.com/news/pu...s_001436.shtml

    The mandolin was probably payed for by the funds rewarded to Thile through the McArthur grant:


    https://www.macfound.org/fellows/cla...#searchresults

    This should settle any misconception.
    Thanks for that. I did ask, rather than state it as fact. I also should have said that it was a combined total for the two of them though that was clearly wrong too. Though not as wrong as 500k for one.

    Nonetheless the price has fallen. At this rate I might be able to afford one around 2050.
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    Default Re: 1924 Lloyd Loar at Elderly Instruments

    Quote Originally Posted by HoGo View Post
    I think there is no question about authenticity of this mandolin. It ticks all boxes of a March 24 Loar. Typical floor sweep binding work with mismatched materials and obviously also workmanship of several folks working at Gibson at different times. I guess the serial number was faded and someone wrote over it through f hole and he likely misread the original number. For anyone it is simple thing to visit a good luthier and look underneath the label (steam it) to reveal number written on the back (and write it correctly on the label) .
    I don't doubt the authenticity of this mandolin either, but what I think doesn't matter.
    The pool of buyers for 6 figure instruments is very small.
    And the high-end collectors are very picky. Unless it's a one of a kind piece, they don't like anything that is even vaguely "irregular."

    This instrument is most likely to sell to a player with limited resources who has been saving for years to buy "the instrument of their dreams." Only a very few of them can come up with $120K.

    The collectors will go for instruments that are cleaner, and they won't like that serial number. They also wouldn't like a label that has been steamed, removed, the number corrected, and re-glued. And they, or the people who do their buying for them, will notice those things.

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    Default Re: 1924 Lloyd Loar at Elderly Instruments

    Quote Originally Posted by HoGo View Post
    I think there is no question about authenticity of this mandolin. It ticks all boxes of a March 24 Loar. Typical floor sweep binding work with mismatched materials and obviously also workmanship of several folks working at Gibson at different times.
    As for the "floor sweep binding work". I find it interesting that the (1924 Fern Loar) binding work is exactly like on 1926 – 29 F5s. We see plain white body binding, somewhat darker (but still non-grained) fret board binding and grained ivoroid head stock binding. Note also the 27th fret being too low on the fret board, similar to other Loars and a few '26 – '29 Ferns. Where those ivoroid bound Fern head stock veneers kept on the shelve since 1923 or even '22? (Note that the 1923 F5 spec. sheet mentions the head stock to be designed "according to drawing", whereas other specs should be "like F4". Also note that Cat. N of 1923 showed a Fern F5.)
    Those features are generally not found on flower pot F5s, not even on those with post Fern Loar 1924 signature dates, and neither on "unsigned Loars". Not surprisingly, all known FONs of 1924 flower pot F5s and "unsigned" F5s point to 1923 for the year of manufacturing (according to Spann).
    In this sense, the seemingly "floor sweep binding work" on the Fern Loar at Elderlys appears more like a concept than the binding work and head stock inlays on many flower pot F5s with '24 signature date or "unsigned" F5s.

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