C. 1928 Stahl (Larson Bros) Reverse Curl Mandolin Used
It's easy to see why this mandolin was given a full-page photo in the 1993 "Acoustic Guitars & Other Fretted Instruments" book (by George Gruhn and Walter Carter, this is the mandolin shown on page 100). And of course this same example got even more coverage in the centennial edition of "The Larsons' Creations" (2007). The Larson Bros. made a lot of mandolins, in several different styles, but this is one of the more unusual in shape and has survived in remarkably clean and original condition. Despite the Stahl label, there's no doubt that this was made by the Larsons, who incidentally never made an instrument with their own name in it throughout their decades-long career in Chicago.
Perhaps even more unusual than the shape and condition is the fact that this mandolin is still quite playable, a testament to the Larsons' dedication to making instruments that would last. If you ignore the fantastic shape, it's essentially an American flat-back in style. It's louder with a more powerful tone than a typical Martin flat-back mandolin model, for instance, and although it's beautiful to look at it's a fine mandolin for the string band style, or for just about any mandolin style except bluegrass or other styles that depend on the more percussive carved-top mandolin tone.
Original tuners and tailpiece, with all original finish. Original frets with only slight wear, and nice low string action. There's one crack to the top caused by pickguard shrinkage, and the center seam of the two-piece top, beneath the tailpiece, has opened slightly. The case looks less than impressive because the Keratol covering is coming off, but it's the original, shaped to fit this particular outline, and the lining is in good condition. Also included is the original sales receipt, from the "Walter T. Holt School of Mandolin, Guitar, and Ukulele" in Washington, DC. The upper corner with the date is missing (the receipt is torn and in fragile condition) but the original selling price is clear, $100 for the mandolin and case.