English Mandolins

Here are instruments photos and videos from past restoration projects and it is a gallery only, for instruments available for sale please see page "Instruments for Sale"

John Geldart Winder

London 1901

 

An English Mandolin made in style of those made by De Meglio family. At first glance it would appear as it was made in Italy however having the instrument in hands one may quickly realise that craftsmanship differs to mandolins built in Naples. It's in the small details of how the wood was worked that show it has certainly been made entirely by Winder and it's not just another instrument imported and labelled by a UK dealer.

The bowl of mandolin is also made of rosewood but finished with red/cherry varnish. Ribs and binding are separated by celluloid strips instead of wooden ones. Frets are made of German Silver whereas Italian mandolins were usually fretted with brass. Soundboard is thought to be made of Swiss Pine. Dimensions and scale remains same as traditional bowl-backed mandolin.

 

Winder Mandolin also varied in sound which seemed more open and louder with a little bit of flat back mandolin characteristics.

I have recorded same music on Winder and De Meglio mandolins so for sound comparison see video below (for de Meglio mandolin please see Italian mandolin page).

The Windsor Magazine vol.XVIII dated 1903 includes valuable article about Winder instruments. To view Google archive page please click on a Blue button below.

Winder Mandolin
Winder Mandolin
Winder Mandolin
Winder Mandolin
Winder Mandolin
Winder Mandolin

Although further mandolins listed on the page were actually made in Germany I'll still keep it named as English Mandolins as they were labelled and partially assebled in Manchester (as according to historical sources).

 

Viennese College of Music

By His Majesty's Royal Letters Patent no. 2244

Made by Ewald Glaesel
186b Plauenschestrasse, Markneukirchen, Saxony, Germany
Application for patent no 2244 made on 4th February 1905 and accepted 5th October 1905
Application Agents: Wheatley & Mackenzie, 40 Chancery Lane, London W.C.

I got this instrument in quite good condition for it's age but as always the finish was really bad and required redoing completely (back and side – french polish, table and neck tru oil). Some other works like tuners and tailpiece needed cleaning, also had to make a new bridge as the original was damaged and useless.

 

Further down the page I described and compared both Viennese and Neapolitan College of Music Mandolins

Viennese College of Music Mandolin
Viennese College of Music Mandolin
Viennese College of Music Mandolin
Viennese College of Music Mandolin
Viennese College of Music Mandolin

For sound samples see videos below. On the left is a solo piece "Cold Tears" I've composed on this mandolin and on the right is a Bach's Menuet accompanied by Cello and Harpsicord

 

Neapolitan College of Music

By His Majesty's Royal Letters Patent no. 2272

Made by Ewald Glaesel
186b Plauenschestrasse, Markneukirchen, Saxony, Germany
Application for patent no 2272 made on 28th January 1902 and accepted 10th April 1902
Application Agents: Wheatley & Mackenzie, 40 Chancery Lane, London W.C.

Yet again got it in a very poor state, this time it had to be opened at the back as glue failed in few places and the struts were loose but all succesfully has been put back together. Also the finish was a bit tricky this time as I didn't want to further damage the lady on the back as well as loose the original colour of the dye. Here I decided to clean it as much as possible and gently sand the original finish (probably nitro cellulose and dye), touch up the bottom of the lady's dress and few heavier marks and put few coats of tru oil. All over I was aiming to achieve an effect of a well conserved antique rather than "like new" look. Luckily the frets, tuners and neck were in very good condition and required only cleaning.

 

As for sound characteristic it has loud bright tone with good sustain (recording in a video below), very easy to set up right intonation as opposed to bowlbacked Italian mandolins which can cause a lot of troubles here.

Neapolitan College of Music
Neapolitan College of Music
Neapolitan College of Music
Neapolitan College of Music
Neapolitan College of Music

In an old style by Lucas Sobieranski - a piece of music I've composed and recorded on this mandolinetto

in a video below

Viennese & Neapolitan College of Music Mandolins

My recent findings changed my theory about links to Glaesel as designer and maker and only one aspect of my theory is now confirmed which is that both Vienesse and Neapolitan College of music Mandolins were intended for English market.

Thanks to Business and Intellectual Property Centre in Manchester who helped me finding copies of application for Patents related to aforementioned Mandolins it is now possible to tell exactly when they were made. Vienesse College of Music Mandolin patent no 2244 was made in 1905 and Neapolitan College of Music Mandolin in 1902 by Ewald Glaesel (186b Plauenschestrasse, Markneukirchen, Saxony, Germany). Both application were made through agent Wheatley & Mackenzie, 40 Chancery Lane, London W.C.

Although these mandolins were designed by German luthier it's still remain unclear where exactly they were made but considering that Saxony had the best source of wood and labour it is more likely they were made there.

Recently I also came across an add on gumtree where description for guitar shaped mandolin was as follows:

 "The term mandolinetta refers to a guitar-shaped mandolin. Apparently, these mandolinettas were made in Ancoats, Manchester and were supplied as part of a mandolin correspondence course, which was run by the Neapolitan College of Music between 1870 and 1920. If you enrolled on the course you got a 'free' mandolin "

Although I would leave the manufacture place of mandolins being still in question, I can agree with the latter as Manchester Ancoats used to be called Little Italy because of large amount of Italians living there. It would be very likely that there were good mandolinists from Italy teaching mandolin playing, possibly having their own schools as well.

The question now remains wheter we should call it English or German since the patent application was made in England?


As it is a teritorial patent application it means it was only inteded to be sold in England

For the copies of patent applications see PDF documents below:

 
 

                                 Patent 2244                                                      Patent 2272

 

 

Viennese and Neapolitan Mnadolins
Viennese and Neapolitan Mnadolins
Viennese and Neapolitan Mnadolins
Viennese and Neapolitan Mnadolins
Viennese and Neapolitan Mnadolins

The Viennese College of Music for the Mandoline

A tutor book that was together with one of the mandolins is available to download here:

Another Guitar shaped Mandolin with different lady motif

English Mandolinetto
English Mandolinetto
English Mandolinetto
English Mandolinetto
Neapolitan college of music
Neapolitan college of music
Neapolitan college of music
Neapolitan college of music
Neapolitan college of music

And another Guitar shaped mandolin however this time fitted with Aquila M1 Nylgut set of strings. It has also more decorative desing of bridge and tensioner (Ebony inlaid with bone).

 

Arthur O Windsor

Flatback Mandolin

Although there was no label inside I've seen same instrument with label Arthur Windsor. Now after finding out about above mandolins being made by Ewald Glaesel, an option appeard that these could have been sold under label of Windsor but produced by Glaesel. Seeing same mandolin with similar patent to violin like and guitar like mandolins it is also likely that it was inteded for English market only.

Now as mentioned above, Viennese & Neapolitan college of music mandolins share exact parts as this one, same kind of plastic was used for pickguard and even have the same concept of brass element inside the instrument near the sound hole, but this time it's a brass spiral attached to a piece of wood next to strut (see photos).
It is hard to tell how much it improve/affect the sound of the mandolin (surely meant to improve sustain) but the instrument sounds really well, has very strong tone and good sustain. Certainly it is very unique concept which I've never seen on any other mandolins (if someone did seen it I'd appreciate if you let me know).

As for restoration I was aiming at maintaining antique look and didn't want to take of original varnish which would come off together with stain so only gently cleaned the surface and added thin layer of shellac and coat of Tru oil. Bridge had to be replaced as had wrong spacing's cut out so I've made a new one (unfortunately old one was in a wrong position for a long time and left marks on the table).
Original frets were high enough after levelling and are retained, fretboard was cleaned and sealed, yet again neck is straight and comfortable and it's really fun to play.

I've recorded a piece of music on this mandolin, see video below.

DSC04789
DSC04776
Windsor Mandolin
Windsor Mandolin
Windsor Mandolin

Mandolin-Banjo

 

Unfortunately no label inside so make and date unknown but certainly has very interesting look and sound.

Mandolin Banjo

Mandolin Banjo

Mandolin Banjo

Mandolin Banjo

Mandolin Banjo

Mandolin Banjo

Mandolin Banjo

Mandolin Banjo

© 2014 - 2020 Lucas Sobieranski All Rights Reserved

Photo by Monika Karpiej, Manchester United Kingdom 2017

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