1914 Gibson F4 Mandolin with Case

Value (2012) | $6,000 Retail$7,000 Retail

This belonged to my mother's uncle. And whenever his wife passed away, Aunt Lily gave it to my mother. And whenever my mother passed away in January, she gave it to me. All I know is that my Uncle Byron played in the Detroit Symphony, and he passed away in 1978.

Well, your great-uncle Byron was part of a tremendous trend in mandolins around that time. The mandolin was an extremely popular instrument starting in the late 1880s. And around the time this mandolin was made, which was in 1914, it was at its peak. And Gibson started out as a very small company, but by this time they were making 4,000 guitars and mandolins a year. But not very many of them were of this grade. So this is a Gibson F-4. It was the most expensive mandolin they made at the time, and it cost around $150 in 1914. There are a number of things about this one that, you know, that make it somewhat unique. It's the third version of this Art Nouveau shape that Orville Gibson originally designed right around the turn of the century, which has the matching curl on the body that is echoed by the curl on the headstock. And by this time, they were using these inlaid celluloid tuners, which were made in Germany. It's a spruce top, although it's stained black. And then the curly maple back and sides, and a mahogany neck. It comes in an unusual case. We don't usually see the rectangular cases for the mandolins until, you know, several years later. So this is actually the first time I've seen this particular case. Usually they're a shaped case that's much smaller. This is in all original condition. There's a little, tiny piece missing of the pick guard, and that's about all that is lost. And the fact that it has its original case, with the case key. That's an original Gibson box of strings, and it's from the same period as the mandolin. Your great-uncle Byron kept just about everything.

I think he did.

It's great to have that photo of him.

Yes, Mom kept good records.

(laughing) Yes. In a specialty shop environment, a mandolin like this would probably have a retail value of somewhere between $6,000 and $7,000.

Oh, okay. That's what we... we were just curious.

Appraisal Details

Gryphon Stringed Instruments
Palo Alto, CA
Appraised value (2012)
$6,000 Retail$7,000 Retail
Corpus Christi, TX (August 04, 2012)

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