We present to you an example of the finest mandolin known to mankind. “What might that be?” I thought I heard someone ask. It is [a flourish of trumpets is heard offstage] a Gibson March 31, 1924 (signed and dated) Lloyd Loar F-5 model mandolin, #75846, bearing Virzi Number (one of the lowest numbers seen although they seem to have been applied in no particular order) of #10002. This superb mandolin is in entirely excellent and phenomenally original condition. Housed in its original hard shell case, it is a breathtaking sight, all that Cremona varnish; it is a sunburst shower of sonic scintillation. It was played some, yes, the frets show normal wear (far be it from us to replace them with high, round imposters), mainly in positions one through five, the ebony board is slightly pitted within that frame, and the back of the neck shows some discoloration, from perspiration, also normal wear on the other side of where frets one through five are located, including some small scuffling at the black widow's peak.
Other than that, and a couple of extremely light dings and cursory surface scratches and scuffs (and but a few of those) plus two replaced screws, one very old and one newer, holding the pearl original buttons to the shafts on strings 5 and 8, this mandolin is 100% factual, indelible, ancestrally accurate Loar. Mandolin Bros' own Peter Becker did the set up and restring, and he says "The sound is silky and beautifully balanced. Some Loars have a "hot G" string or a "hot E" but this one is 'good across the board.' Although there are those who denigrate the presence of a Virzi, I feel that it makes the sound smoother, greatly lyrical and more complex. Although quite a few Loar labels were signed on March 31st, this mandolin, more than any I have seen, defines the Lloyd Loar F-5 mandolin of 1924."
This is a silver-plated component Loar, with the engraved-plate tuners, the artfully filigreed, silver "The Gibson"-engraved slide-on tailpiece, unique to the Loar period, the single-ply side binding with crème-black-crème top and back border, having 3-ply bound tortoise color pickguard bearing the Mar. 30, '09 stamp, with matching 3-ply-against-celluloid side clamp. It has three-ply neck and headstock binding as well. Its ebony headplate is suitably inlaid with the angled, inlaid pearl "The Gibson," and colorful single flowerpot, with '21 patent stamp on the foot, and the never-a surprise small mark on the face in front of the bridge where it was mis-positioned for decades. On the inside of the original green, compartmentalized, plush-lined, unique-to-the-Loar-period case are three Black Diamond strings (only 15 cents each), a couple of celluloid picks and an ancient and interesting variable-note single tube pitch pipe that seems frozen in "A#."
We originally obtained this finest of mandolins from the granddaughter of the original owner. The history of the mandolin as we know it is that this owner’s grandfather played it in the ‘20s and ‘30s, and left it to her father. Her father waited fifty some years before presenting it to her in the hope that it would be sold with the proceeds being used to pay college tuition for the original owner's great-granddaughter, who was at that time a music major in viola preparing to leave for freshman year. Did I mention that this family had a curly-haired dog who greeted us at the back gate when we visited their home to see this piece? I asked what the small critter’s name was and they said “Gibson.” We felt this a powerful omen. This mandolin, with its signature label and original hard shell case, makes every ear in the room in which it is played feel as if it has quietly and unexpectedly passed away and made the final hegira to ear heaven. If your trust fund has done well through this recession, this smiling schnauzer can be your own private flood tide of personal satisfaction.
Now on sale - this WAS $250,000. But not any more. Now it's affordable.