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Ukulele? For a Penny ?!?

posted 16 Aug 2018, 09:08 by Lardy Fatboy   [ updated 30 Sep 2018, 17:04 ]
JR Stewart LeDomino
Supetone with a partial Duco finish
Yael Peacock
Someone is having a "Giraffe"!!
No a Peacock actually; that is officially what I paid on eBay for the Chinese Concert with the laser etched peacock! Of course there was postage on top so in reality I paid more than a penny but when I saw it as an auction item with a starting price of a penny I thought "that's got to be worth a punt, even though I am bound to be outbid, but that's ok; after all I really don't need another starter level Concert and of itself it's not that spectacular". But no one else bid so it stayed at £0.01 for 7 days! As I said it's not that spectacular on its own, though I am sure it will be perfectly playable, but I will always see it now without the postage cost and "the 1p Ukulele" and with that story it's kudos is, in my book, significantly upped.
Strangely enough though, (or maybe not?), I saw the same model in a "buy it now" offer with free delivery for exactly the same amount as the postage on mine and the extra penny? (Same peacock and everything but this one was branded Yael so unless there is something else on mine - it was sold as unbranded - I will call it a Yael and look for information about the factory that makes them).

The other two cost me a lot more than a penny (though I still think they are a bargain). What happened was someone based in the UK put both of them up as single lots; the first one which is the one that really caught my eye, is the JR Stewart made Le Domino. This is, in my opinion, one of the coolest Ukuleles ever made, and has been in the top 10 of the Ukuleles I wanted ever since I started collecting them; even the slightly less cool, but still black, Regal made ones, (the later natural Regal made ones are nowhere near as nice and smack of Regal just having some old decals to use up), but ideally the original JRS ones. Usually when I see them, they are on sale in the US, often in poor condition, and for a lot more than this one was offered at so there was no hesitation in my sending an initial invite to Ukulele Corner.

While looking at it I saw than the same seller had another US made Ukulele of a similar vintage up for sale as well. This was a Supertone that I had only seen small blurry pictures of before, with a decoration that was referred to as "Duco". Of the few that I had seen, most were fully covered with the speckles, but I had seen one that was only part covered; like there was a protective cover put over the top so only part was over painted. Having only seen one of these before, and not a good picture at that, I had a closer look and close up, the painting was so crisp that I thought it must be a recent referb job. Thinking this might be the case for why the Le Domino was so pristine looking too, I contacted the seller and asked if it had been refurbished? The seller told me that he didn't do it and the person that he got it from, the person who had imported it into the UK some time ago, didn't do it either. I would have liked this too but it was listed as finishing before the Le Domino, which I wanted more, and which I fully expected the price to double on before it was finally sold. If they had come up the other way round I would have waited, and if I didn't get the Le Domino, I would go for this. as it was the wrong way round though, and I was reluctant to spend a lot on this, and then have to spend a lot more for the LeDomino, I tried putting a cheeky offer in to buy both of them now. As, up to this point and it was a couple of days after the auctions started, (everyone know all of the serious bidding only happens in the last few seconds on an auction), no-one had bid on the Supertone and I was the only bidder on the LeDomino, the seller took up my offer if I was willing to be a little less, (but still I think quite), cheeky. So off went the invitations to the both of them and I wonder gleefully now how many snipes have been thwarted but the auctions ending early?

They'er Here!

The Chinese Concert was branded Yael though Its arrival puts me no closer to knowing who specifically made it or who owns the Yael brand name? It was exactly as I expected a nicely made laminate mahogany Concert with a laser etched stylized peacock on the front; well worth a penny probably worth the penny and the rest of the postage cost if it arrived undamaged but it wasn't packed with enough padding and something hit it on the back making a small but noticeable dent in the back, on the edge just below the waist; there is some cracking around the dent too. The dent doesn't affect the tone or playability of the uke, and it hasn't affected it structurally either. I don't think it will ever get worse and as a cosmetic problem, well you have to examine the back fairly closely to notice it. Still I complained about the poor packing and the seller refunded me three quarters of the cost so now it's not a Ukulele for a penny it's a Ukulele for a farthing (for those that don't know many, many years ago, in fact long enough ago to be before I was born there was a coin that was legal tender called a farthing and it was worth ¼ of a penny. it was much smaller than a penny too - though pennies were much bigger then - and this is were the name for the Penny Farthing bicycle came from)

The other two Ukuleles are old enough to remember when the farthing was legal tender, though they were probably still in the States at the time. For their age the Supertone particularly is in remarkable shape, though the method of decoration is not the Duco crackle finish that I first thought. I'm guessing it must have involved masks and swinging paint pots to get that effect.

The Stewart is in pretty good shape too but has a small shrinkage split in the back. I would have the Ukulele doctor look at it but I'm afraid he might want to keep it like he did with the red Regal. Anyway apart from that all of the decals are in pretty fair shape and it still has all of the "Film Noir" majesty that I associate with the LeDomino