Scott Allen wrote:Very cool, Richard. Does the knob on the back look like the old electrical wiring knobs to anyone else?
Could be. Also reminded me of a knob from an early electric appliance, like an oven. Very high chance, though, that this was added after the instrument was built. Judging by the heavy play and the eclectic variety of hitch pins, someone was actively engaged with this instrument over a long period, and was comfortable with making utilitarian modifications.
There was also paint residue on the old strings. That probably happened after 1930, based on information the seller sent me this morning.
IN his latest letter he says his family was always quite adamant that the instrument dates to the 1880s. His grandmother was born in 1905, and she inherited the instrument, already old, twenty-some years later, after which it was never played. That would mean the heavy play the instrument received was before 1930. "Old" could mean anything, but one might guess at least 15 or 20 years.
He also said there is a surviving great aunt of his who may remember more. She will ask her what she remembers.
Bill plans to take detailed photos of the pins & feet. The feet may have been added, but the pins are almost certainly original. If they're factory made, we can be pretty sure the instrument was made after 1900.
So I'm still not ready to date it yet. The argument for a 1900-1920 build is getting stronger, but it is too early to judge.