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Thread: Comments on the Value of Gibson A4 Mandolin with hard case

  1. #1

    Post Comments on the Value of Gibson A4 Mandolin with hard case

    I am looking for opinions on the value of a Gibson A4 Mandolin that belonged to my grandfather. I have taken it to several instrument stores in the area but they don't seem to know much about these instruments. Also I would welcome any suggestions about contacts who could give a fair market value. I realize photos can only help to a certain extent and it is better to give an opinion if physically present. It has been stored indoors for many years and appears from what I know about mandolins to be in very good condition. I can see in the sound hole model A4 and a serial number 46315, and the dates Patented Feb1, 1898 and March 30, 1906 if that means anything. It was made in Kalamazoo, Michigan. I have attached photos showing front, back, headstock, and sound hole. It also has a hard case that is in very good condition.
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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Comments on the Value of Gibson A4 Mandolin with hard case

    It is a 1918 A-4 that appears to be in excellent original condition.
    It looks nicer than most of what I see these days.

    The market price is most likely in the mid to upper $2000's, possibly close to $3000 on a very good day, depending on who is selling it. Well known vintage stores may be able to close a sale for more than a private seller.

    If you do not want to sell it privately, some stores with well established reputations that deal with these instruments regularly include Music Emporium in MA, Bernunzio Uptown Music in Rochester NY, Fred Oster's Vintage Instruments in PA, Gruhn Guitars and Carter Vintage in Nashville, Elderly Instruments in MI, and Gryphon Strings in CA. All of them will sell instruments on consignment.

    A fair consignment fee is 20%. If a store asks for more, say no thanks and try another store.
    Last edited by rcc56; Aug-01-2022 at 10:02pm.

  3. #3
    Registered User Timbofood's Avatar
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    Default Re: Comments on the Value of Gibson A4 Mandolin with hard case

    Where are you located? It’s easier to help point you in a helpful direction with that in mind. I might be a little biased but, Elderly is a great place, I’ve known Stan since the late ‘70’! Gee, I’m getting old!
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    Registered User slimt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Comments on the Value of Gibson A4 Mandolin with hard case

    Nice A4. I have one of those. There a nice Mandolin. I got the wrist cutter with mine.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Comments on the Value of Gibson A4 Mandolin with hard case

    Lovely instrument- with its original case- which also appears to be in fine condition, too! That's a bonus, all right.

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    Professional Dreamer journeybear's Avatar
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    Default Re: Comments on the Value of Gibson A4 Mandolin with hard case

    That sure is a purty one! I'd be interested myself, but I got a 1916 just a year and a half ago. Re: price ... I paid $1650, with OHSC, but it was through an online auction, so there were fees and tax that brought the purchase price up a bit over $2000. Then there was shipping and insurance ... My total expenditure was close to $2200. So that "bargain" wasn't much of a bargain, and my excitement got tamped down a bit. I still paid less than the asking price for many others, and it's a fine instrument (if a bit quieter than I'd expected), and I'm sure yours is too.

    Before I got into that auction, I took a look around the interweb to see what the market was like, including the classifieds here. So I knew when to back off on the bidding, and knew I'd gotten a good deal. I just didn't read the fine print about the added fees. I suggest you do the same. The market fluctuates, sometimes dramatically, so even what I paid not so long ago may not be the current going rate.

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    Registered User Denis Kearns's Avatar
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    Default Re: Comments on the Value of Gibson A4 Mandolin with hard case

    My understanding is that an A4 of that vintage should have Handel tuners, not plain ones. The lack of Handel tuners would be expected to lower the value a little. Like our esteemed colleague Mr. Bear, I would recommend keeping it in the family and either playing it yourself or finding someone in a younger generation who is interested. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. I would love to own a mandolin played by my grandfather. He played fiddle, but no family history of mandolin, unfortunately.

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  10. #8

    Default Re: Comments on the Value of Gibson A4 Mandolin with hard case

    It is reckoned that Handel tuners were ended on Gibson mandolins in 1917 or 1918, so the tuners on this mandolin are almost certainly original but are not the inlaid Handel type.

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    Registered User BBarton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Comments on the Value of Gibson A4 Mandolin with hard case

    1918 was a "mixed bag" for the Handel tuners. My 1918 H-2 mandola (#47496) has original Handel tuners, but I've seen many of that year both with and without them, more the latter. I suspect Gibson was simply using up the leftover stock as available in the shop at the moment. (PS -- my 1920 A-4, including the case, is almost exactly like yours and in about the same condition!)
    Too many instruments...too little time

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    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Comments on the Value of Gibson A4 Mandolin with hard case

    Somewhere between 2K and 3K.

    If I can't have Handels on an A4 I would prefer to get a truss rod and adjustable bridge. This one is an in-betweener with none of those features, so at least to me it's not as interesting as either earlier or later A4s. But of course tone and playability are the most important considerations.

    You can also look inside on the neck block for the stamped factory order number.
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    Pataphysician Joe Bartl's Avatar
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    Default Re: Comments on the Value of Gibson A4 Mandolin with hard case

    In mid-2020 I paid $2500 for a 1917 A4 in really excellent all original condition (mit Handels) with an original case that appeared to have been in storage from day one. Seemed a fair price at the time, and still does, for the quality of this instrument.

  16. #12

    Default Re: Comments on the Value of Gibson A4 Mandolin with hard case

    Thank you mrmando for your reply!! I didn't realize there was such a thing as a factory order number. I was just looking in the sound hole. So I looked inside on the neck block and sure enough there is the number 11129. Thank you again.

  17. #13

    Default Re: Comments on the Value of Gibson A4 Mandolin with hard case

    Thank you Timbofood for your reply. We live in Port Clinton. Ohio on the shores of Lake Erie about 40 miles east of Toledo.

  18. #14

    Default Re: Comments on the Value of Gibson A4 Mandolin with hard case

    As evidenced by https://themusicemporium.com/products/gibson-a2-1906, a similar vintage (no truss rod, no adjustable bridge, no Handel tuners) A2, in what appears to be immaculate condition, recently sold for $4000.

    It is hard to compare condition between a professionally photographed mandolin and your photos. Even if I were to assume your mandolin is not in as good of a cosmetic condition as that A2 but otherwise was structurally sound and wasn't in need of a setup, I'd be inclined to believe you could ask in the mid $3000s.

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    Default Re: Comments on the Value of Gibson A4 Mandolin with hard case

    Factory order number 11129 also corresponds to 1918, using Spann's Guide to Gibson as a reference.

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  21. #16

    Default Re: Comments on the Value of Gibson A4 Mandolin with hard case

    Thank you slimt for the reply. Not sure what a wrist cutter is. Will have to look it up on Internet.

  22. #17

    Default Re: Comments on the Value of Gibson A4 Mandolin with hard case

    Thank you rcc56 for the reply. Learning more all the time about this instrument. Thanks..

  23. #18

    Default Re: Comments on the Value of Gibson A4 Mandolin with hard case

    Thank you joh for your your input and reply.

  24. #19

    Default Re: Comments on the Value of Gibson A4 Mandolin with hard case

    Thank you for your reply Denis and comments. I really have no desire to learn to play the instrument. I play piano now. My dad was an excellent sax player but it never rubbed off on me! I know what you are talking about owning an instrument played by a family member.

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    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Comments on the Value of Gibson A4 Mandolin with hard case

    Quote Originally Posted by joh View Post
    As evidenced by https://themusicemporium.com/products/gibson-a2-1906, a similar vintage (no truss rod, no adjustable bridge, no Handel tuners) A2, in what appears to be immaculate condition, recently sold for $4000.
    The listing price and the actual sale price aren't necessarily the same thing. $4K for a Sheraton brown A2 is far above market, so if someone paid that amount, it was only due to the thing being so darn clean, and the buyer was not a player but someone who intended to keep it behind glass. This listing isn't very useful as a point of comparison.
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    Default Re: Comments on the Value of Gibson A4 Mandolin with hard case

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    Default Re: Comments on the Value of Gibson A4 Mandolin with hard case

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    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Comments on the Value of Gibson A4 Mandolin with hard case

    Quick glance at current ads shows a range from $1,850 for a used black-top at Guitar Center, to $6,300 for a snake-head on Reverb. Most of the paddle-heads, like yours are within shouting distance of $3K. Remember, these are asking, not selling prices.

    Selling it privately -- for example, through Mandolin Cafe classifieds -- will yield the most money, but it's also the most work. Consignment through a dealer means they do the work, but they take 20% for commission; on a $3K sale, that's $600. Selling to a dealer means getting wholesale price only.

    I'd say try Cafe classifieds, asking something around $3K, and see what response you get.
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    Default Re: Comments on the Value of Gibson A4 Mandolin with hard case

    Actually selling: in the $2000's, maybe up to $2800 or so for paddleheads.
    Not selling: any paddlehead listed above $3000. I can cite 3 or 4 at established dealers that have been sitting unsold for over a year at $3200 or more.

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