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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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Tom H Ellis Hand Made & Signed F5 Special Mandolin 118-07 Made in Austin Texas 2007
Jun 15, 12:00 PM EDT
Tom H Ellis Hand Made & Signed F5 Special Mandolin 118-07 Made in Austin Texas 2007
by Hess Fine Art
Est: $10,000- $17,500
$1,4006 Bids
WURLITZER MANDOLIN PIANORCHESTRA STYLE 33A
Jun 12, 9:00 AM EDT
WURLITZER MANDOLIN PIANORCHESTRA STYLE 33A
by Morphy Auctions
Est: $75,000- $150,000
$40,0002 Bids
Eastman MD615-SB Hand Made Electric F-Style Mandolin c. 2011 with Gig Bag
Jun 15, 12:00 PM EDT
Eastman MD615-SB Hand Made Electric F-Style Mandolin c. 2011 with Gig Bag
by Hess Fine Art
Est: $1,500- $2,000
$3502 Bids
Randy Bachman | Framus Mandolin
May 30, 10:00 AM EDT
Randy Bachman | Framus Mandolin
by Julien's Auctions
Est: $400- $600
$1000 Bids
Randy Bachman | Hoyer Mandolin
May 30, 10:00 AM EDT
Randy Bachman | Hoyer Mandolin
by Julien's Auctions
Est: $400- $600
$1000 Bids
MANDOLINA HURDY GURDY
Jun 09, 10:30 AM EDT
MANDOLINA HURDY GURDY
by Farrin's country Auctions
Est: $0- $0
$200 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Mandolins


Julien's Auctions

Julien's Auctions

Hess Fine Art

Hess Fine Art

Morphy Auctions

Morphy Auctions

Bamfords Auctioneers and Valuers Ltd

Bamfords Auctioneers and Valuers Ltd