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This instrument is truly an American icon--in part because an image of a lyre mandolin with a superimposed bust of Gibson was used on Gibson labels well into the 20th century--but, ironically, it was not successful as a playing instrument. Lyre-guitars were popular in Europe at the beginning of the 19th century, products of the neo-classical design movement. Since nothing is known about Gibson's development of the lyre-mandolin, and because his lyre design was not patented, it is impossible to say for certain whether he generated the idea on his own or was influenced by other makers. Gibson's hand-carved lyre-mandolin enhances the classic lyre form of antiquity with two stylized swans, complete with feet, all carved, amazingly, as part of the top and back (nothing is grafted into place). This lyre-mandolin features a violin-style carved top and back and ribs sawn from a solid block rather than bent from thin strips, as shown in the mandolin patent for which Orville applied in 1896 and was granted in 1898. The lyre-mandolin's ornately carved peghead is faced with a highly figured mahogany veneer and an inset star and crescent moon. The star and crescent are also found on early Orville Gibson guitars

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