The Gibson mandolin line of 1918 stepped off with the Style A- which, although the least expensive model until the even less fancy A-Jr. came out the following year, had many attractive appointments. For example, it has an ebony overlain scalloped-design headstock, an ebony fingerboard with six mother of pearl dotmarkers in 5 fret positions, a “rope” marquetry inlaid ebony and celluloid soundhole rosette, a grained ivoroid bound oval soundhole, an elevated tortoise shell celluloid teardrop pickguard bearing the “Pat. Mar. 30,’ 09” stamp and an adjustable side clamp bearing the “Pat. July 4, 1911” legend. It has crème single-ply top binding, and original slide-on “The Gibson” etched nickel-plated tailpiece cover with the floral design. Even though this was the entry level model, it was classy, tasteful, elegant and beautifully crafted. And, it sounds every bit as good as the highest-level Gibson A- mandolins of its time.
This mandolin shows relatively small amounts of signs of use and wear. Oh sure, a perspicacious examiner with 20/8 vision like pilots and astronauts have might notice minor signs of it having been played, dings, scrapes, scuffs, scratches, and that there is a small dimple under the bass foot of the bridge, scuffs and stuff, and, in addition, a well-repaired 4 ½” long back crack, plus some mild hand wear on back of the neck but it is, on the whole, a clean machine. The celluloid pickguard is slightly flexing under the crossbar but is otherwise in excellent condition with no sign of deterioration; it has original tuners, elevated pickguard with side clamp, one-piece ebony bridge, slide-on "The Gibson" tailpiece cover and ebony tailpin. It has the blank headstock (no logo), the bone nut, the squared end ebony unbound fretboard with the 6 mother of pearl dotmarkers; it has the crème bound oval soundhole and the "rope" marquetry (alternating black and crème parallelograms) rosette. The top is bound in crème but the peghead, neck and back are unbound. It’s nice to have a 1918 mandolin that still has all its parts and finish, which has survived these 94 years so steadfastly. This one also sounds incredibly great, to boot.