It began almost four years ago, when mandolin buff Jim Garber discovered this extremely cool hollow arm mandolin in an Australian museum.
But beyond an additional small image of the maker with his harp guitar-playing brother, there seemed to be little out there on the enigmatic Cera brothers – Italian musician-luthiers who had settled in Australia.
Then on occasion a new Cera harp guitar discovery would come my way. And soon – with help from Aussie luthier and guitar historian Ian Watchorn and some helpful museum and historical society staff – this whole “Cera thing” exploded.
It turns out that brothers Giovanni and Rino Cera individually built a small but continual stream of harp mandolins and harp guitars. That they played these instruments was not at all surprising, as they grew up in Italy which was then known for such things.
What’s surprising is how long they kept at it, each continuing to play, build, repair and share their unique instruments from about 1930 until their respective deaths in 1987 and 1990.
Meanwhile, back in Italy, guitarists and their audiences had virtually forgotten Mozzani and Maccaferri, along with Taraffo and his followers, but apparently no one told the Cera brothers that the musical world of these unique instruments had ended. So they just kept at it their entire lives.
That’s why I refer to their adopted Australian homeland as:
The Land of Harp Guitars That Time Forgot
With generous donations from “viewers like you” (site members please ask for new password for your enhanced version), The Harp Guitar Foundation has recently acquired over a dozen rare images and rights to allow me to share the entire output of these inventive musician builders with you – the Legacy of the Cera Brothers.