1924 Gibson F-5 ”Lloyd Loar“ Mandolin

Value (2011) | $175,000 Retail
Watch  

GUEST:
It was purchased by my great-grandfather during the Depression. He purchased it from, I believe, a neighbor who at the time needed some extra money, and he wanted his son, my grandfather, to learn how to play a musical instrument.

APPRAISER:
Well, when you walked in with this, I saw the case, I went, "Oh, my God, I know what that is." And I thought, "Can it be?" And I opened up the case and there it was, this wonderful Gibson F-5 mandolin. It's the type of F-5 that's very easy for us to identify the year from because I can tell that it's what we call a Lloyd Loar model F-5 with this fern inlay in the peghead.

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRAISER:
Lloyd Loar was an acoustic engineer and great mandolin virtuoso who worked at the Gibson company back in the '10s and '20s. And he really was the father of the modern mandolin. And what he did to make the mandolin what it is today is... he did various things to it like internally, it has parallel tone bars.

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRAISER:
It has an elevated fingerboard, elevated over the body. It has two F holes, like a violin, and actually, similar to a violin, it has the bridge positioned around the center of the body, around the center of the arch. And it is arched like a violin and tap toned, meaning internally tuned. The thicknesses of the plates inside are tuned like a violin.

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRAISER:
And Loar was the first guy to do this to a mandolin. It also has a longer playing length of the neck. It has 15 frets to the body. Earlier mandolins had shorter necks. Gibson had been making these F-style mandolins from the turn of the century on, but this innovation in mandolin making was something that Loar excelled in, and this became basically the prototype style for all mandolins to come. Loar also developed this nice little, neat screw-in Pickard clip, which was a lot neater than the earlier ones. It has inside the Gibson label with serial number, as well... and the other side, it's got the master model label. Now, this was the professional, master-grade mandolin that Gibson put out late 1922 and onwards. And these early ones, the ones made while Loar was at the factory from late 1922 through 1924, we call them Lloyd Loar model F-5s. This has the most beautiful what they call Cremona brown sunburst color to it. If I had to grade it in Gibson mandolins, or Lloyd Loar mandolins, I'd probably put it in the top ten percent of the ones I've seen.

GUEST:
Wow.

APPRAISER:
When did he buy it again?

GUEST:
During the Great Depression. From what I understand, he paid $20 for it, and at the time, you know, it was estimated probably around $600 is what I'm told.

APPRAISER:
Right, that being said, I would say these days, a correct asking price through a dealer in a shop would be about $175,000.

GUEST:
Oh, my gosh! (laughs) Wow! It's been in a closet in a farmhouse for many, many years.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Vintage Instruments, Inc.
Philadelphia, PA
Appraised value (2011)
$175,000 Retail
Event
Tulsa, OK (July 23, 2011)
Period
20th Century
Form
Mandolin
Material
Wood

Executive producer Marsha Bemko shares her tips for getting the most out of ANTIQUES ROADSHOW.

Value can change: The value of an item is dependent upon many things, including the condition of the object itself, trends in the market for that kind of object, and the location where the item will be sold. These are just some of the reasons why the answer to the question "What's it worth?" is so often "It depends."

Note the date: Take note of the date the appraisal was recorded. This information appears in the upper left corner of the page, with the label "Appraised On." Values change over time according to market forces, so the current value of the item could be higher, lower, or the same as when our expert first appraised it.

Context is key: Listen carefully. Most of our experts will give appraisal values in context. For example, you'll often hear them say what an item is worth "at auction," or "retail," or "for insurance purposes" (replacement value). Retail prices are different from wholesale prices. Often an auctioneer will talk about what she knows best: the auction market. A shop owner will usually talk about what he knows best: the retail price he'd place on the object in his shop. And though there are no hard and fast rules, an object's auction price can often be half its retail value; yet for other objects, an auction price could be higher than retail. As a rule, however, retail and insurance/replacement values are about the same.

Verbal approximations: The values given by the experts on ANTIQUES ROADSHOW are considered "verbal approximations of value." Technically, an "appraisal" is a legal document, generally for insurance purposes, written by a qualified expert and paid for by the owner of the item. An appraisal usually involves an extensive amount of research to establish authenticity, provenance, composition, method of construction, and other important attributes of a particular object.

Opinion of value: As with all appraisals, the verbal approximations of value given at ROADSHOW events are our experts' opinions formed from their knowledge of antiques and collectibles, market trends, and other factors. Although our valuations are based on research and experience, opinions can, and sometimes do, vary among experts.

Appraiser affiliations: Finally, the affiliation of the appraiser may have changed since the appraisal was recorded. To see current contact information for an appraiser in the ROADSHOW Archive, click on the link below the appraiser's picture. Our Appraiser Index also contains a complete list of active ROADSHOW appraisers and their contact details and biographies.