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Troubandore Mandolin Club Arbor Pennsylvania. From the collection of Lon Ellis

Here is a pocket mirror likely from around 1900 showing a real photo captioned “Troubandore Mandolin Club Arbor Pennsylvania”. In the late 1800’s, mandolin playing became very popular. Glee clubs and banjo clubs already existed in schools and colleges at that time, but mandolin clubs started taking over. The mandolin had an advantage over other instruments like the banjo and guitar because the mandolin was cheap, small, romantic, and easy to play. In 1902, the Sears and Roebuck catalog offered six different models of mandolins! Members joined these mandolin clubs mostly for socializing and personal entertainment, not about producing good music. It was more about the experience of playing in a band. Mandolins because somewhat less popular with the advent of jazz music in the 1920’s.

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