Epiphone Windsor Mandolin (1932)

MYSTERIES EXIST IN THE LORE surrounding vintage instruments, and one that has plagued mandolin collectors for a long time is that of the Epiphone Windsor. Billed in Epiphone catalogs of the early thirties as their top-of-the-line mandolin, the Windsor model was depicted as a fancy scroll model instrument, quite similar to Gibson’s F-5. Also pictured on the same page was a simpler, less expensive version called the Artist model. What makes this so mysterious is that no dealer, player or collector has ever seen or heard of either mandolin! Finally an Epiphone mandolin bearing the name Windsor (inlaid in its asymmetrical peghead) did surface, although it was a two-point model very similar to the lesser Strand models, which were made from 1932-55. Epiphone was definitely out to capture their share of the dwindling mandolin market, and catalogs from this period feature five different models, including the two that have never been found. These short-necked mandolins (the neck joins the body at the 11th fret) were similar to Gibsons in finish and appointments, but early versions, like this singular example, had exceptionally deep bodies.

(from Tone Poems II CD booklet , used by permission)

Photography by D. Brent Hauseman