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Mandolins

The mandolin is a string instrument derived from the Medieval lute. This small-size lute, first documented in the 1300s, was called several names, including the Italian name "mandola." A smaller version of the mandola was called a "mandolina." Mandolins were popular in Italy and traveled with Italian immigrants to the United States during the second half of the 19th century. By 1900, mandolins were found for sale throughout the United States through merchants such as Sears, Montgomery Ward, and Lyon & Healy.

Mandolins constructed prior to 1905 had a flat top and a bowl back, similar to the lute. In 1905, Orville Gibson of the Gibson Mandolin and Guitar Company designed a mandolin based on the violin with a carved top and a flat back. This new style of mandolin was further modified by Gibson and his successor Lloyd Loar into the '20s. Mandolin music took a leap in popularity in the '30s when bluegrass musician Bill Monroe introduced his unique mandolin playing style to radio audiences. The mandolin continues to be used widely today, especially in acoustic pieces of classical, country, and rock music.

Gibson mandolins are the most highly sought after by collectors today. The best Gibson mandolins were the F style, especially those designed by Lloyd Loar. Gibson's F-5, designed by Loar, is considered to be the best mandolin ever made. Mandolins signed by Loar on the inside label sell for the highest prices. Gibson antique mandolins from the 1890s and early 1900s are also highly regarded by collectors.


Quick Facts

  • In the late 1800s, mandolin orchestras became widespread in the United States. These groups performed using mandolins, guitars, mandolas, mandocellos, and mandobasses and often included 50 to 60 musicians
  • The mandolin has been used in acoustic ballads performed by famous rock musicians including Rod Stewart and the band Led Zeppelin
  • In 2002, Bill Monroe's 1923 Gibson Lloyd Loar F-5 mandolin sold for $1.125 million. The mandolin is now on display at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville, Tennessee

Recommended Items at Auction

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Miniature potato bug mandolin
Dec 02, 9:00 AM EST
Miniature potato bug mandolin
by Pook & Pook Inc.
Est: $160- $220
$800 Bids
Mandolino in legno
Dec 05, 3:00 PM CET
Mandolino in legno
by Casa d'aste ARCADIA
Est: €800- €1,200
€8000 Bids
Colascione in legno dolce con decorazioni in osso e madreperla
Dec 05, 3:00 PM CET
Colascione in legno dolce con decorazioni in osso e madreperla
by Casa d'aste ARCADIA
Est: €1,000- €1,500
€1,0000 Bids
Liuto in legno con inserti in osso e madreperla
Dec 05, 3:00 PM CET
Liuto in legno con inserti in osso e madreperla
by Casa d'aste ARCADIA
Est: €500- €1,000
€5000 Bids
MANDOLIN MINIATURE
Dec 09, 12:00 PM EST
MANDOLIN MINIATURE
by Dennis Auction Service
Est: $50- $100
$200 Bids
ANTIQUE INLAID ITALIAN MANDOLIN
Dec 04, 1:00 PM EST
ANTIQUE INLAID ITALIAN MANDOLIN
by Charleston Estate Auctions
Est: $200- $300
$50 Bids
Antique 1894 Wooden Victorian Mandolin Harp
Dec 04, 9:00 AM MST
Antique 1894 Wooden Victorian Mandolin Harp
by R & R Auction INC
Est: $0- $0
$50 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Mandolins


Casa d'aste ARCADIA

Casa d'aste ARCADIA

Dennis Auction Service

Dennis Auction Service

Pook & Pook Inc.

Pook & Pook Inc.

Charleston Estate Auctions

Charleston Estate Auctions