. . . and more mandolinettos!
by Gregg Miner, as part of www.minermusic.com)

The term "mandolinetto" is commonly used today to refer to guitar-shaped mandolins. Most of the manufacturers simply called them mandolins - which while technically correct, ignores their uniqueness and significantly different appearance from both traditional bowl-back mandolins and the various later scroll and pear-shaped instruments. Sears and Bruno (see below) both called them mandolinettos and probably sold more under their nomenclature than the rest of the makers combined.


 

 

(click images to enlarge)

This is a fancy Howe-Orme tenor mandola owned by Eddie Sorila. 
Note the engraved pearl.
Dimensions are: 25 1/2" total length, 12 1/4" body length, 9 1/2" lower bout, 7" upper bout.
(images copyright Eddie Sorila)


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I took these pictures of a gorgeous mandolinetto by S.O.Allison (no date)  during my visit to the wonderful Fiske Museum in Claremont, CA.

The previous instrument was the first Allison mandolinetto I'd ever heard of (I know of no one else who has heard of this maker either). Then another surfaced - again quite gaudy! Played in a turn-of-the-century jazz quartette called the "Smith's.". alison_mandolinetto2.jpg (10278 bytes)   alison_mandolinetto2close.jpg (26373 bytes)

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The instrument is in the possession of a descendant of Joseph Warren Smith, pictured at left. The quartette entertained at a President's inauguration, after which Joseph became a barber.

(images copyright and courtesy Carliss Tate)


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Another similarly fancy instrument (and unusual harp guitar) from an undated photo

And detail of the mandolinetto.

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An unmarked mandolinetto with stunning neck inlay and fancy, oversized binding.
(images copyright and courtesy Glen Webster)
(image from the Internet)


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A fancy Maurer mandolinetto, ca. 1910. Probably one of a kind.
From The Larsons' Creations by Robert Carl Hartman.
(image copyright and courtesy Ron Middlebrook/Centerstream Publishing & Robert Hartman)
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Instrument available from More Music as of Nov, 2002.
(images copyright More Music)

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(images from ebay)

An equally fancy and high quality instrument from Lyon & Healy, post 1900.

Another Lyon & Healy instrument - their American Conservatory model - this one with an unusual peghead veneer.

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A nice-quality instrument made for the the Oliver Ditson Co. (a distributor). Builders for Ditson included Lyon & Healy and Martin.

(photos courtesy of anonymous owner)

And a Regal (a different company than the Regal brand below) with a lovely slim waist.

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This page from a Bruno catalog is undated, but I suspect it's turn-of-the-century or later.
The "Lyra Brand" mandolinetto pictured has "Vernon" on the peghead.
Also note the correct term for "pocket mandolin" (not "piccolo").
lyramandolinetto.jpg (25070 bytes) And one that says "Lyra" on the peghead. mandolinetto12.jpg (17130 bytes)
This is the first 12-string (3 strings per course) mandolinetto I've ever seen! Looks like a Bruno or similar.

This ad for "Regal Guitars and Mandolins", from the Wulschner Music Company, actually pictures a harp guitar and two models of "mandolinettos".
The ad appeared in the September, 1900 issue of "Munsey's Magazine" - so apparently, the instruments predate the instruments offered by Sears below, and were not yet called mandolinettos.
These Regals are not from the well-known Regal company discussed on my other pages, but are instead a brand name of Emil Wulschner & Son of Indianapolis, from 1884-1901 (from Mugwumps Online).
The photo is of the Deseret Mandolin Club, Salt Lake City, Utah. 

Sears Catalogs featured mandolinettos at the turn of the 20th century. Nothing appears in the 1897 or 1900 catalog (and presumably in-between), 1901 is unknown, and by 1902 they appear.
Also unknown are the years between 1909 and 1923 (where they are again absent).
Pictured below are the ads from 1902, 1908 & 1909, showing three different instruments by unknown suppliers/manufacturers. 

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The "Serenatta" Guitar is of course another mandolinetto - distributed by he Tonk Bros. Company.
This ad is from March, 1903.
(Submitted by and copyright Michael Holmes of Mugwumps Online)

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Very similar to our American mandolinettos are instruments from England, also from around the 1900's. I've seen a few show up on ebay (like this one). They often have a female musician on the back - probably an affixed, printed image under the lacquer.
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Another one courtesy of a collector named Brad, who picked this up in Glastonbury, England.
The label inside says: 

By his Majesty's Royal Letters Patent.
Patent No. 2272.
Neapolitan College of Music

 

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 This strange-shaped mandolin, otherwise quite similar to the instruments above, is also occasionally found in England. It is 25 inches in length, 2 & 1/4 inch deep, with a scale length of approximately 13 inches. It is labeled "DRGM English Patent Applied For" and "Viennese College Of Music". Machine heads are bone/brass, stamped DRGM 186662 (DRGM means a German Patent for a small item).

(image and information courtesy of the owner, Nick Pilley)


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Another guitar-shaped mandolin, this strange-looking Almcrantz mandolin looks suspiciously like a Knutsen/Weissenborn Hawaiian guitar!
Circa 1895-1907, in the Shrine to Music Museum collection.
I'm not yet able to verify their attributed date.

(image copyright American Lutherie journal)

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And another  12-string, somewhat similar in shape, from Germany.

(image from ebay)


And a new mandolin category: 
Violin-esque Mandolins

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1904-1910 Stahl mandolin, with carved spruce top.
Very few were made, none identical.
From The Larsons' Creations by Robert Carl Hartman.
(image copyright and courtesy Ron Middlebrook/Centerstream Publishing & Robert Hartman)

A very interesting, similar instrument by an unknown maker. Probably similar vintage.

(image copyright and courtesy Al Haug)

A Brandt mandola, in the shape of a viola. 
(image copyright Top Shelf Music)

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Miner Music