Thursday, March 17, 2011
Orville Gibson (the first of my new series: Important Individuals in the History of the Mandolin) 3"x4"
Engraved in Resingrave- printed with Speedball Ink on old book pages
Orville Gibson is responsible for the flatback mandolin- as opposed to the Neapolitan style "potato bug" or "bowl back" that was prevalent in the 19th century and came to America from Italy. From Mandolin Cafe: "Orville Gibson was apparently obsessed with ornamentation, particularly the scroll. He also emphasized the importance of machines in precision manufacture. His personal hallmark, included as an inlay on many of his early instruments, was an occult star-and-crescent." I find this last tidbit of information very interesting because Lloyd Loar, the famous Gibson luthier was a himself a theosophist...strange
Orville H. Gibson (1856, Chateaugay, New York - August 21, 1918, Ogdensburg, New York) was a luthier who founded the Gibson Guitar Corporation in Kalamazoo, Michigan in 1902, makers of guitars, mandolins and other instruments.
Gibson began in 1894 in his home workshop in Kalamazoo, Michigan. With no formal training, Orville created an entirely new style of mandolin and guitar, with tops carved and arched like the top of a violin. His creations were so different that he was granted a patent on his design. More important, they were louder and more durable than contemporary fretted instruments,(4)and musicians soon demanded more than he was able to build in his one-man shop.
On the strength of Orville Gibson's ideas, five Kalamazoo businessmen formed the Gibson Mandolin Guitar Mfg. Co., Ltd., in 1902. Within a short period after the company was started, the board passed a motion that "Orville H. Gibson be paid only for the actual time he works for the Company." After that time, there is no clear indication whether he worked there full-time, or as a consultant. Orville Gibson was considered a bit eccentric and there has been some question over the years as to whether or not he suffered from some sort of mental illness.