Gibson A-4 Mandolin, ca. 1920

Value (2004) | $3,000 Retail

Well, I got it at a garage sale a little over 40 years ago. And my husband said, "What are you going to do with that?" And I said, "I have no idea, but I like it."

So is this the only musical instrument that you have, or do you collect musical instruments?

Well, my daughter played the guitar, but this is the only one I collected. I just liked it when I saw it.

Has anyone told you much about it, or...?

Well, one time there was an article in the paper and I called this number and he said it was worth about $500, and that was about 15 years ago.


But my daughter said, "Don't sell it, I want to keep it." And my grandson plays the guitar.

It doesn't look like anyone's played it in recent years.

Oh... no.

It's in very good condition. This is a Gibson mandolin made by the Gibson Guitar and Mandolin Company

probably around 1920, give or take a few years. It's an A-4 model with a black finish. One of the characteristics of the A-4 is the fancier rosette around here, where there's two rope-snake purflings and then an inlay of ivoroid plastic and then a fancy end to the fingerboard. Another characteristic of this instrument that makes it interesting is the use of the Florentine tuners. These were only put on their fancier instruments. They're inlaid with silver and abalone and they're quite lovely and in quite good condition. The unique thing about this instrument is not so much its age, but its condition. It's in extraordinarily nice condition. The patina of the finish is just wonderful. It's aged, it's got a fine weather checking. No one's ever gone over the instrument, tried to buff it or clean it or polish it, which would ruin that patina. The silver hasn't been bent up. It's been cleaned, but only slightly. It has the original case, which is in excellent condition. That was the first thing I spotted about it was the case was well kept. These instruments are still used today. It's just as functional today as it was in the early 1900s.


Normally, the average one of these would sell in the neighborhood of $2,000 to $2,500. That's a retail price. But since this is so nice and so kept, I would say that it conservatively would bring top dollar, which would be around $3,000. And what did you tell me you paid for it originally?


Oh, that's not bad.

That's a good mark-up.

Appraisal Details

Mass Street Music
Lawrence, KS
Appraised value (2004)
$3,000 Retail
Omaha, NE (July 10, 2004)
20th Century

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