Help! Want to know more about my mandolin.


Platinum Supporting Member
ah, the ol' taterbug.

old bowlback mandos like that are historically interesting, and pretty to look at. they're unfortunately quite delicate and often unplayable after a century of enduring string tension.

if yours has a neck that's still reasonably straight and keys that still work, you might be able to use extra-light strings and play it.

they're not much in demand for modern music styles (think italian restaurant, not bluegrass festival).

Lawn Jockey

Welcome to TGP MaryCat!

Lyon & Healy made numerous levels of bowl-back mandolins back in the late 1800's....and early 1900's.

Washburn did the same. Actually, several companies put out taterbug's.....all with different level of "trim".

I'd suggest going here and asking. Someone there should be able to help.....or get you close.

Here is an album of my taterbug. Mine is a Lyon & Healy (American Conservatory) which was a lower end model.

***Usually*** these don't command a high price. Looks like yours is in great condition......and may be from the 30's or 40's.

Congrats on your new instrument.......and welcome to TGP again!


Drowning in lap steels
It could be from any number of manufacturers, but to me the inlays look more like Vega than Lyon & Healy, especially the star on the first fret. But again, it's very hard to tell without a label. Bowl-backed mandos were rarely made after WWI, so I'd put it a bit earlier than Lawn Jockey. Regardless of who made it, it's a nice instrument!


Not to make this any more confusing than it needs to be..but, this instrument looks like several that were issued under the Stella name. These were made by Harmony in Chicago. Most were, roughly, made from about 1880-1920. At this time Harmony produced instruments under their own name and over 50 private labels, including Stella. The ornamentation is not necessarily exclusive to any particular manufacturer, but is sometimes helpful when it is something unusual. The herringbone trim was a very popular feature on many of these instruments, but I have seen it more on Chicago based companies (i.e. Harmony, Wsahburn, etc) As others posted, without a label, at best it is an educated guess and this is mine based upon my experience.

Good Luck!

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