Rivoli 58807

Close-up #20: 1949 Rivoli SN 58807

I don't own this neat mandolin which I had spotted on the web somewhere and corresponded with the owner about some time ago.

The "blue" type label inside identifies the model as a "Rivoli Mandolin" with SN "58807" – suggesting a 1949 manufacturing date. The teardrop-shape body has the cello-style f-holes with square corners at the scrolls, typical for Epiphone instruments of the 1935–1949 era. This example has lost its pickguard.

Rivoli 58807

The Rivoli model featured back and sides of American walnut. The back was pressed laminate on early models, but upgraded to solid carved construction by 1939.

Rivoli 58807

Below the Rivoli mandolin how it appeared in the 1942 catalog. Note the stamp "Discontinued for the duration" present across all mandolins, flattop guitars, bass viols, and electric instruments in our catalog example: After Epiphone had halted electric instrument production early during the war due to material restrictions, the company also discontinued all mandolin and flattop guitar models by 1944. However they kept using copies of the 1942 catalog well into the post-war years, thus the stamps.

1942 catalog

After the war, the price list of June 1, 1947, was the first to relist the Rivoli again – as the only mandolin model with a price: $75 (up from $61 in 1942). Many of the other models marked temporarily discontinued (***) would never see production again.

1947 price list

The pre-war Rivoli had the "stickpin" headstock inlay, as also used on the Zenith and FT 79 guitars. Around 1948 the Zenith archtop received a new "cartouche" headstock inlay", also adopted by the Rivoli and FT 79 when these models were reintroduced. Note that by that time the final letter "e" of the "Epiphone" script logo had changed from an open-loop "ɛ" to a closed-loop "e".

Rivoli 58807

The tuning machines are 4-on-a-strip Kluson with riveted cog – a model introduced and used during the WW2 years. These wartime mando tuners were obviously still lying around when this Rivoli was completed in 1949. 

Rivoli 58807

Rivoli SN 58807 is special: It is the first (known) mandolin built after WW2 – and the only (acoustic) one that still features f-holes! By the time a new catalog was printed in late 1949 or early 1950 (pictured below), the Rivoli and Strand mandolin models had changed to an oval soundhole.

1949 catalog

Finally the case: No, the red paint is hardly factory-original.

Rivoli 58807

(Nov 14, 2016)