Regal
Regal "reverse scroll" archtop mandolin, 1930s. $850.
This delightful and quirky acoustic mandolin has no markings, but is almost certainly from the Regal factory in Chicago, dating to the 1930s (or possibly the '40s). it's an example of what's called a "reverse scroll" mandolin, a design that's often criticized as "a Gibson copy by someone who's never actually seen a Gibson." But the design has its own charm. Not only did the Regal company make a whole line of these, from plain to fancy, but the famous Larson Brothers also made a handful of extremely high-end ones for the Stahl company.
     This example can be regarded as a midrange instrument. Lower-end reverse scrolls are flattops or bent-tops and cheaply made, sometimes from plywood. This mandolin has an arched top of solid spruce and plain maple back and sides, although I am fairly certain the arches are steam pressed, not carved. (Not sure whether the back and sides are laminated.) It has a pleasing sunburst finish and (mostly) bound top and back, adjustable bridge, segmented F holes, and kidney bean tailpiece. Rosewood fretboard; typical Regal neck and headstock. It has a pleasant tone, projects well, and has a tiny bit of bluegrass "bark," but is probably better suited for folk or blues music.
     Very good condition for its age, with no cracks or repairs. It's quite possibly all original, although it's difficult to tell for sure. The mandolin resides in a recent Eastman fiberglass case, which turns out to be a remarkably good fit.
     One sees a cheap flattop reverse scroll mandolin weekly on eBay, but archtops like this are quite rare. Could be just the thing if you want something vintage, a little out of the ordinary, and idiosyncratic but graceful. See more photos, call 425/772-0231, or for more information. $850 plus shipping.