This modest yet marvelous mandolin is beautiful and utilitarian in every way possible. The Style A-2 was the fourth from the bottom (in a range of 6 models) in the time it was made. It is the model with the top and back binding (crème ivoroid), somewhat fancier rosette rings around its oval orifice, having neck binding, dotmarker inlays, “The Gibson” inlaid in the ebony headplate and etched into the slide-on tailpiece cover. This example is complete and original, proudly retaining all its original parts and components including that clever and memorable pickguard side clamp with its “July 4, 1911” patent stamp. Its colors are deep, unfaded and memorable, and although there are a few normal signs of use it is, on the whole, exceptionally clean. Our workshop is presently closing a small area of loose celluloid on the back where the binding has pulled loose from the side; this will be heated, cajoled back into place and glued, otherwise it will be receiving a set-up, cleaning and restringing. That’s not a lot of maintenance after, um, 91 years. Inexplicably there is some added lacquer on both sides of the neck at the first fret and nut – hardly visible but with a magnifying glass one can see some overspray there. The mandolin shows only light signs of use and playing time, dings, string changing marks, etc.
The hard shell case is missing the small round button on the center clasp that enables the middle latch to be securely closed – apparently somebody with limited hand-eye coordination skills, who missed that day in anger management class, couldn’t get the case to open (through no fault of the case) and cleanly broke off the small round button while grinning that ghastly lupine smile that you so often see on the visage of sadists and bullies. Oh, okay, I suppose we should point out that the small pearl inlay inlaid into the tip of the end pin has a missing corner. Despite our typical overstatement of its really innocuous indications of prior use, this is an exceptional Gibson A-2 mandolin, from the right time, in the right color, with all the right accoutrements, and conveying, with both richness, projection and long sustain, the silky sound of soprano voice in the string quartet. .