1920s Ernst Mandolin

1920s Ernst Mandolin

Now G. Hugo Ernst was not a man to be trifled with. He and his father, Gustav, came to Camden, New Jersey, from Germany in the 1880s and set up shop at 1274 Mechanic Street and later at 1327 Haddon Avenue, where they made, as Gustav Ernst & Son, guitars, zithers, and mandolins. Gustav passed away in 1906, but Hugo, innovator that he was, carried on and In 1916 was granted a patent for what in essence was an acoustic fretted instrument with two sound chambers. I’ve seen a guitar or two of his, but never a mandolin until this one. There is a solid spruce resonator of sorts, a kind of vibrating panel, suspended midway between the top and the back, which can be seen through an additional oval soundhole in the upper bass bout of the top. I’ve seen this kind of thing carried out before, most notably in a very special guitar that I have from 1864 by George Maul, of Schmidt and Maul, famous makers in New York from the 1840s-1860s, but rarely as successful as in this mandolin; this boy is LOUD, almost scared the heck out of me when we first strung it up. The craftsmanship is of typical pinpoint-neat German quality. The back and sides are of Brazilian (of course) rosewood, the top spruce with beautiful parallelogram wood marquetry around its edge and double-bound soundholes, the fingerboard ebony; the tuners are modern replacements. And the body is unusually deep, more so than one is accustomed to seeing in mandolins of the period. And I just love the original label inside, to wit: The Ernst / Double Body Instrument / Patented April 25th, 1916 /  Guitars, Mandolins, and Zithers / Made By / Hugo Ernst / 1327 Haddon Avenue, Camden, N.J.  U.S.A / No.108 (this hand written). The pickguard, which appears to be real tortoise-shell, is inlaid into the top. The original varnish finish is totally intact and nicely weathered. And it plays and sounds LIKE GANGBUSTERS. $1495 w/ssc

w/ssc

$1495.00
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