American Conservatory Mandolinetto, made by Lyon & Healy , c. 1912

 American Conservatory Mandolinetto,  made by Lyon & Healy ,  c. 1912
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Item # 6390
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American Conservatory Model Mandolinetto, made by Lyon & Healy, c. 1912, made in Chicago, natural varnish finish, rosewood back and sides, spruce top; mahogany neck with ebonized fingerboard, original brown canvas case.

The Mandolinetto, or guitar shaped mandolin was quite popular during the mandolin craze of 110+ years ago. Despite the disapproval of some old-line Mandolin purists ("Guitar shaped mandolins?? FAH!!) players liked them as they were easier to hold and manufacturers liked them as they were far easier to build than the traditional bowl-back. If the "Lute mandolin" (as built by Martin and Washburn) and the carved-top mandolin (By Gibson) had not come along, these little figure-8 eight strings might still be popular. Sadly, they fell from vogue by the 1920's and are practically extinct today.

This is a very nice if not overly fancy Mandolinetto, built well of higher grade materials. It was made by Lyon & Healy under their "second line" American conservatory brand, with a large label stating this in the soundhole. The woods are good quality; the back and sides are colorful Brazilian rosewood with some interesting figure. The spruce top is single bound with "half-herringbone" wood marquetry along the edge and soundhole. The back is triple bound with a colored wood marquetry backstrip. The inlaid pickguard appears to be real tortoise, the fingerboard is inlaid with pearl dots. This small instrument has a sweet "Classical" sound somewhat similar to many bowlbacks while feeling much more player friendly to the average 21st century mandolinist.
Overall length is 21 1/2 in. (54.6 cm.), 8 1/16 in. (20.5 cm.) wide at lower bout, and 2 3/4 in. (7 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.).

For being something like 110 years old this is a nice little player, and remains all original showing some typical repair. The top has a long crack between the pickguard and tailpiece solidly if somewhat sloppily repaired and quite visible. The back and sides have a number of small repaired grain splits with some finish touch up, done serviceably on the back if not as neatly as we would prefer. Overall the in strument is still quite attractive. The original frets have been leveled and the instrument plays well with a rather dainty and pretty sound. The original (Picturesque if not particularly useful) canvas case is still present, along with a modern gig bag for functional carrying. Very Good + Condition.