We are pleased to say that a posting on Mandolin Café back in January 2005 from “dunbarhamlin” provides greatly appreciated background on this style Vega mandolin. He says: “Ooh nice. Looks like a 201 (the cylinder backs being designated 202, 203, 205 and 207, according to furniture and ornamentation). Whilst woods do change, the catalogue I have which features it offers the following specification: Style No.201: Body: Mahogany body, top edge inlaid with black and white purfling, fiberloid bound, soundhole inlaid with marquetry, fiberloid bound, art tortoise shell guard plate. Neck: mahogany, rosewood veneered head-piece. Extension ebony fingerboard, 20 rolled nickel silver frets, hand finished, pearl position marks. Trimmings: ebony hand finished bridge, ivory nut, detachable, nickel plated tailpiece, selected strings, nickel plated machines, French polished. Unfortunately, the art tortoise mentioned has been willfully pushed to extinction by artless legislators in the West. Would that they had directed their doleful gaze towards the mother of toilet seat abalone instead.”
There are some similarities to a Martin Style A mandolin, but the Martin has a two plane top like a roundbelly and this top is slightly arched but thankfully lacks the “bent top” feature. This mandolin is being offered “as is” with a slight bow in the neck. Aside from performing a refret there isn’t much we can do about this here bow. It is not affecting playability -- it plays okay since somebody has, in the past, slightly lowered the slots in the ebony bridge. This 13 ¾” scale mandolin is fairly classy, having the “VEGA” in a star (this is comprised of at least 18 separate pieces of pearl, very beautiful floral etched plate open-gear tuners with grained ivoroid buttons. The ebony fingerboard terminates in a French curve with two partial frets; the oval soundhole is bound in grained ivoroid and then surrounded (immediately, no space) by 8 plies of black and red (and finally black and crème) purfling. The inlaid pickguard is celluloid, which is what they apparently meant by “art tortoise” – meaning “faux.” The floating ebony bridge is spear point on each side, nicely carved and contoured and the slide-on tailpiece cover is plain and scalloped five times.
The instrument shows extremely light normal signs of use including some scratches, dings, scuffs, crazing lines, chipping of the finish in a small area on the lower bass bout. It is, we might even say, cleaner than most. Although the slight neck bow may seem, at first, a decided downer, in reality the easy playability and clean condition of the piece end up, in total, leaving a happy mandolin.