Gibson A-3 Carved Top Mandolin (1914)

Gibson  A-3 Carved Top Mandolin  (1914)
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Item # 11626
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Gibson A-3 Model Carved Top Mandolin (1914), made in Kalamazoo, Michigan, serial # 25759, natural top, cherry stained back and sides finish, birch back and sides, mahogany neck with ebony fingerboard, black tolex hard shell case.

This is a very well-worn, heavily played "true relic" example of one of the Gibson Company's more obscure mandolins, the early Style A-3. This high-midline model was never a big seller and went through a couple of variations in the 1910s. In collectors' minds it is mostly identified with the striking "Antique Ivory" finish used only on this model between 1918 and 1922. This earlier A-3 dates to 1914 and has a more standard "pumpkin" top finish, distinguished from the models under it by a double-half herringbone soundhole ring and a dainty pearl geegaw on the headstock under the pearl script "The Gibson" logo.

The top and back are single bound with a wide ivoroid. The elevated pickguard is tortoise Celluloid with the 1910s bracket anchor. The ebony fingerboard is single bound, with pearl dot inlay. The bridge is more modern two-piece adjustable unit with an integral pickup, wired to an endpin jack. All else is original including the tuners and tailpiece with the engraved cover. This is far from the cleanest of these we have had but remains a good playing and great sounding example of this relatively rare early Gibson mandolin.
 
Overall length is 25 3/4 in. (65.4 cm.), 10 1/4 in. (26 cm.) width, and 1 13/16 in. (4.6 cm.) in depth, measured at side of rim. Scale length is 14 in. (356 mm.). Width of nut is 1 1/4 in. (32 mm.).

This nearly 110 year old mandolin shows the effects of lot of use but remains a fine sounding "real relic" instrument. There is general finish wear everywhere, with some minor touch up work but no heavy overspray. The thin varnish top finish remains largely original with dings, scrapes and dents overall, most heavily above the fingerboard with some odd deep gouges running along the grain. The largest of these runs much of the length of the top and looks like a crack but does not actually go through the wood. The back and sides are also somewhat worn down but retain their original tinting and patina.

There is a noticeable crack through the heel, solidly sealed but fairly ugly. It is not finished over, in fact most of the varnish gone from the back of the neck up well into the heel area and beyond, evidence of a LOT of play time. The headstock shows a large amount of dings, scrapes and scratching on the face, but the varnish remains original.

The fingerboard has likely been refretted long ago; the frets are larger than period Gibson style wire and in good playable shape. The fingerboard binding is replaced on the treble side, with the wood worn into below the binding in this area. The bass side binding is original with a few cracks. The bone nut appears original, slightly shimmed.

The hardware remains original except the more modern adjustable bridge, which has an integral pickup wired to an endpin jack so the tailpiece was opened up for that. The pickguard has been fairly neatly cut away over the soundhole. Despite the considerable wear the instrument is very solid. Previous owners have gotten a quite a bit of use out of this a-3 over the past Century, perhaps why it sounds as good as it does today with a powerful ringing tone. It resides in a well-worn later HSC with a previous owner's information emblazoned on the lid. Overall Very Good Condition.