What is as beautiful as a D’Angelico mandolin? The last numbered mandolin D'Angelico entered in his log book was #174 which was dated 1954, and then he entered #185 dated 4/19/52 which doesn't say "mandolin" but it does say "Pts." Which might mean a "mandolin with 2 points." It would be a reasonable assumption, from that, that this homologous honey (like the wing of a bat and the foreleg of a mouse) could be dated between 1952 and 1954. After all, it has the "batwing" style headstock with "D'Angelico" inlaid pearl logo and a diamond whose point faces downward and whose top edge is curved.
Its headstock is bordered in celluloid with black and crème purfling; the top and back in 7-ply purfling, the pickguard is four-ply with ivoroid outermost. The nut is the original bone. We have made and installed a new pickguard for it. The side clamp is original but corroded; the soundholes have single-ply binding, The back and sides display mildly flamed maple, the top is spruce; the bracing is tone bar. The bridge is the original ebony adjustable but the saddle may have been re-contoured. The neck is one piece of dramatically flamed maple; the fingerboard is ebony, square -ended, with 6 large pearl block inlays on frets 1, 3, 5, 7, 10 and 12. There are side dots at the same positions. The frets are the John D’Angelico original measuring 2.10mm in width, .91mm in height. Tuners are the original open-gear with round metal buttons; the gold plating is, of course, worn. The case is the original black hard shell; it has a replacement tailpiece - but this tailpiece is gorgeous - it's a prewar scalloped and nickel-plated slide-down type, engraved with a floral pattern. It is definitely in keeping with Mr. D'Angelico's artistic sensibilities. (A portion of the original lattice-style tailpiece remains, that being the top section but the bass-side part is missing).
At one time a second pickguard resided over on the bass edge of the top but when this was removed it left the glue and wear underneath that the owner at that time tried to cover with a distracting looking plastic shield. We have chosen to lose the silly tortoise celluloid cover and expose the distressed area;. It is what it is, but at least the sound is unimpeded. As for the tailpiece, it's a shame that the original owner did not retain the part that broke off at the bottom side. If we had both parts we could possibly have sent it out to be braised together, but alas, that ship has sailed.
The prescribed work on this fine D'Angelico mandolin has been completed. That included cleaning and polishing the frets. There is some touch-up on the body; the back was, in our opinion, at one time reglued; at the same time, probably, the kerfing on the back by the end block was replaced; there is a jack for the pickup drilled into the treble side, lower bout. We have removed the desiccated (even putrefied) pickup, but nevertheless, just like in The Shining, the jack hole will remain. As expected, this mandolin shows normal signs of use and wear. Our dedicated and intensely professional workshop made a new pickguard, rebound the headstock, cleaned the frets, and we performed our internationally famous set-up (in full costume with feathers and bows) and even addressed a set of new strings (“Hello, strings.”) We interred the pickup remains in the case pocket .
For all you measurement freaks (and you know who you are, dahling), here they jolly well are:
Body Width, lower bout . . .10 3/8" Scale Length . . . . . . .13 7/8"
Body Depth, lower bout . . . 1 7/8" Neck Width at nut . . . 1 1/8"
Body Depth, upper bout . . . 1 7/8" Neck Width at 5th . .. 1 5/16"
Body length . . . . . . . . . . . .13 5/16" Neck Width at 12th . 1 9/16"
In the annals of great mandolins of our ancestral past, the John D’Angelico hand-made stands apart in the hierarchy of historiography. As Stan Jay says on the Mandolin Brothers Postcard (yours for only 50 cents plus postage) of five D’Angelico mandolins and a D’Aquisto, “John made 47 and Jimmy only 3. John, who had no other children, named his eight-stringed progeny ‘Plain,’ ‘Good’ and ‘Scroll.’ For one brief moment in time we had in our showroom and offered each of the D’Angelico mandolins (including two of the ‘Good’ or Excel) and one of the ultra-rare D’Aquisto. It’s a beautiful thing.” Postcards are fifty cents apiece. This mandolin is, however, a bit more. THIS WAS $9500 BUT NOW ON SALE: