French Mandolin Makers

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   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 missing. 

   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.

Mirecourt: L'Huillier.

   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
Jacomoni Thibouville Garelli Venisienne, Cousenon