The mandolin spread before us is one of the fancier models of Washburn turn-of-the-century bowlback. It has a fingerboard that is entirely covered in a veritable aurora borealis of multi-colored abalone, etched and blackened on frets 5,7,10 and 12 with Victorian era illustrations, a mother of pearl bordered oval soundhole – said hole is, itself, bound in grained ivoroid, then there’s a ring of checkerboard, a crème and then a red wood purfling line, the pearl, and the pattern is reversed. Below said soundhole is a 5 3/8” wide, 2 ½” high inlaid tortoise shell or celluloid pickguard that is, in turn, inlaid with a sweeping flourish of ferns. Below that is the carved and elegant ebony bridge, with four dots and an arrowhead on each side of the base, and a fret wire saddle, and below that is an easy-open crown shaped tailpiece cover that is heavily engraved with a floral cameo, vines and a hummingbird. The face of the mandolin is bordered with three contiguous rings of checkerboard wood marquetry. The back of the headstock bears a nickel-plated cover that is, as well, etched in floral filigree with a vertical cameo filled with flowers at its center and a banner reading “Washburn” through the cameo. The back of the bowl is comprised of an expanse of Brazilian rosewood including continuous ivory or ivoroid border, 34 rosewood ribs each separated by a line of maple, and crème-red-crème purfling surrounding. The back of the neck is mahogany, and it bears a lovely little carved volute, or hand stop. The face of the mandolin is bound in ivory or ivoroid with crème and black lines.
We should point out that the tuners have been replaced with modern F-style staggered tuners with pearloid buttons whose gear box is just slightly bigger than the originals they replace and so the fancy cover on back of headstock is lifted slightly. There is just the hint of a separation of the rosewood on the back just below the neck-to-body joint (center of back), There’s a 4 1/3” repaired crack from the bottom purfling to the bottom edge of the tortoise pickguard – well repaired and touched up, but visible. The action is a bit high but not elevated enough to make it impossible to play up to the 10th fret where the neck joins the body, and there is a rise in the fingerboard over the body which is not resolvable (with the fingerboard being wall-to-wall abalone you can’t plane and refret the board. This rise in the board is causing the mandolin to “fret out,”, meaning that the strings buzz against the frets when played above the 10th fret. This is regrettably not something we can fix.
It is reasonably easy to play, although there is no way to lower the action since the bridge is as low as it can go. Our repair staff has executed a first class set-up, nevertheless it is being offered in ‘as is’” as they say. And yet it is exceedingly beautiful, it comes from a good family with a fine heritage, and moose'd affordable. If the offered price is not low enough please call or email and "make us an offer." This WAS priced at only $1907 but is NOW ON SALE (big time) at: