Maurer Flat Back, Bent Top Mandolin, made by Larson Brothers (1922)

 Maurer Flat Back, Bent Top Mandolin, made by Larson Brothers  (1922)
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$2,450.00 + shipping
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Item # 11835
Prices subject to change without notice.
Maurer Model Flat Back, Bent Top Mandolin, made by Larson Brothers (1922), made in Chicago, serial # 28275, natural finish, rosewood back and sides, spruce top; mahogany neck with ebony fingerboard, black tolex hard shell case.

From the beginning of the 20th century up until WWII, August and Carl Larson's small Chicago workshop turned out a dizzying assortment of exceptionally well-crafted instruments -- guitars, mandolins, the occasional ukulele, and even harp guitars. The catch is, they never put their name on them. Much of their output was contracted to sell under other brands, but this mandolin bears their own "Maurer" house trademark. The brothers had originally been employees in Robert Maurer's Chicago factory but bought him out in 1900, retaining the trade name for their own use. This one additionally has an incised wood block glued to the back under the soundhole noting it was "Manufactured expressly for S. Ernest Philpitt, Washington DC, Miami, Jacksonville".

Regardless of which name they carry Larson flat-back mandolins, mandolas, and mandocellos are beautiful and extremely well-made instruments. The thin but slightly arched straight-braced tops render them more responsive than Gibsons, with a more refined classical sound. Built with ensembles in mind, Larson mandolins have a distinctive and somewhat delicate sound, with less overtone character than the typical Gibson but plenty of volume. A large proportion of Mandolin family instruments were labeled for William Stahl of Milwaukee; this Maurer is a practically identical design. This style is generally similar to the Martin Style A-E, the Weymann Mandolute, and Lyon & Healy's "Leland Mandos" which were all products of the early 1910s. Many cheaper mandolins built in Chicago by the likes of Regal and Harmony also hew to this pattern.

This particular Maurer mandolin is a higher-end model with a lovely Brazilian rosewood body, spruce top, and 5-piece laminated mahogany/ebony neck. As was the Larsons' custom the top and back are lightly arched, "Built under tension" which makes the instrument much sturdier than many similar but flat-topped designs without adding weight. It is very artfully trimmed with celluloid on the top and back edges, with the top ornamented with half-herringbone/colored wood marquetry trim and a pearl sound hole ring. The bound ebony fingerboard has shaped pearl inlay, while the headstock has a pearl floral pattern and tuners inset from the back. The tailpiece cover and tuner coverplate have neatly incised floral decoration, and the inlaid pickguard has a pearl floral pattern across the center.

The Larson Brothers' work has become better known in recent years, but their mandolin family instruments lag behind the guitars in appreciation. We feel their version of this type of mandolin is the about the best ever made, and well worthy of attention from more players and collectors. Although very much outside the familiar Gibson realm, this Maurer is a lovely and very fine instrument in its own right with a great history and distinctive character all its own.
 
Overall length is 24 1/2 in. (62.2 cm.), 9 1/8 in. (23.2 cm.) across at the widest point, and 2 1/2 in. (6.4 cm.) in depth at side, taken at the end block. Scale length is 13 in. (330 mm.). Width of nut is 1 1/8 in. (29 mm.).

This mandolin is in fine and completely original condition overall, and over a century along remains a very nice-playing and sounding instrument. The finish shows some typical fine checking, with general wear including dings, dents and scrapes here and there, most notably a spot worn to the wood off the back edge of the pickguard. The instrument shows no visible repair and remains in very fine structural condition, with an excellent neck angle and no signs of folding up at all, as many lesser similar period mandolins do. The very small original frets have been polished out showing no subsequent wear. All-in-all an excellent testament to the Larson Brothers' craftsmanship and one of the best of this flat-back, bent-top style mandolins ever designed. Excellent - Condition.