French Mandolin Makers
To my knowledge, there is as yet no publication outlining the
history of mandolin making in France, the bowlback in particular, though fortunately there is some
information about luthierie in general, which has a strong presence in and
around Mirecourt. It seems several French makers imported Italian bowls, whilst
others built thier own with Italianesque names, like Ozelli and Stridello. I would welcome contributions from any other enthusiasts. If you
have a mandolin by a French maker that I don't list here, I would be pleased
to receive full-length, front and back photos, and the details of
the label or top-stamp.
I have started with what I have found available on the internet, and hope to replace some of the line drawings with photos as I can. Those listed were large makers/retailers at the beginning of the 20th century, and the images come from their catalogues.
|Jerome Thibouville-Lamy: Phebe,||Laberte-Humbert: Bocari, Ozelli||Paul Beuscher Venzana, Adamo|
| There were many
fewer makers of the mandolin in France than Italy, though those there
were had several identifiable styles. Firstly, many of the mandolins
made in France have a name etched on the table by pyrography, usually
top left. Tuner buttons are often of some kind of yellow material, quite
dissimilar from Italian ones. Also the resin scratch-plates
stands up to the ravages of time, much less well than
the T/S or acetate. They often appear crazed and cracked, with bits
Finally, there was a fashion for double tables, and several luthiers produced mandolins with this feature, that exhibited fixed bridges, and a table that dips in the centre and is split there, the lower section extening under the upper.
In his 'Manuale Teorico-Practico del Mandolinista' of 1923, arguably the end of the Golden Age of the Mandolin, Agostino Pisani cites the following as having been notable makers of the mandolin in France, perhaps a more reliable guide than the number of extant instruments to be seen today.
Paris: Jerome Thibouville Lamy & Co (also at Mirecourt); E. Mercier; Romies; I. Gallesi.
Marseille: Michele Schiano; Garofalo.
Several of the makers made and marketed a range of mandolins with other names, some of them Italian-sounding. Thibouville Lamy for instance made 'Phebe' mandolins. Several also marketed a range of Italian-made mandolins. It is probable from the hardware on some of these, that some were perhaps made in Italy, and fitted out in France.
|Rene Gerome||Gelas||Gelas||Noluoca||Euterpia||Gaudet 1914|
|GGG Thibouville Lamy (JTL)||Beuscher||Ozelli (LH)||Rittelli||Phebe (JTL)||Collin Mezin|