For years, an old mandolin that was passed down as a family heirloom held a secret from two sisters.
Jody Kennedy had used the aged, wooden instrument as a sentimental fireplace decoration in her home in Olathe, Kan., until sister Phyllis Shanline of Manhattan, Kan., wanted to learn to play it, so a family member took it to a shop for repairs. The next stop: a UMB Bank vault in downtown Kansas City.
Its secret? The 1924 Gibson F-5 Master Model mandolin their father once played is worth $165,000, and some similar instruments have sold for more than $200,000 in recent years.
'I was shocked," Shanline said. "I sat down right away, and I think I've had high blood pressure ever since."
Their mandolin, a small instrument with four pairs of strings that are plucked, was simply an heirloom that brought back memories of a father who once played it but who died in 1961. Its strings are rusty, and a few are missing. Dust and white paint specks mar the finish, as do a few wood cracks.
Kennedy, 73, in recent years used the instrument to decorate a fireplace ledge. The curled scroll atop the body, the f-shaped holes in the top and the elongated points on the body — along with fern-like pearl inlay on the headstock — give it a classical look.
"It looked so pretty sitting there," she said.
All this time, she and her sister had paid little attention to the paper labels glued inside the mandolin’s sound chamber, clues that gave away its elite pedigree.
One label included the signature of mandolin designer Lloyd A. Loar and the date March 24, 1924, which signified that he personally had inspected the instrument and likely played it to ensure its perfection.
Read the full story at KansasCity.com