Giovanni Cera, Italian Harp-Mandolinist from Down Under

Is this a cool harp mando, or what?!

Here is yet another new historical designer/builder that has come to light, courtesy of fan Jim Garber.  He found this very imaginative harp-mandolin by one Giovanni Cera on Melbourne, Australia’s Museum Victoria site here. There is a full page bio on Cera, with many photos of the fascinating instrument, which Jim described as “sort of a combo of Mozzani and Gibson.”  I agree – beautiful and original!

Giovanni Cera – and later, his brother Rino – emigrated with his father from Vicenza, Italy to Melbourne, Australia in 1924.  The two brothers eventually became successful musicians, and eventually, luthiers.  Giovanni built his hollow-arm mandolin in 1946, from “various salvaged timbers.”

In this c.1950s photo, Giovanni appears to be playing this same instrument, while his brother plays a harp guitar with 4 sub-basses.  From the inclusion of the row of small “sound ports” in the arm, we can be almost certain that this instrument was designed and built by one or both of the brothers.

So from one happenstance discovery, we have some very nice new additions to add to the Galleries, Iconography and Makers and Players Encyclopedias (keep ‘em coming – I’ll catch up some day).

A brief note about the tipster for this new find…

The blog now allows me the opportunity to acknowledge some of the hundreds of friends, peers and strangers who have helped make (and before that, The Knutsen Archives and my own Miner Music site) such a wonderfully rich resource.

Jim Garber is a fellow I have known – only via email – from the very beginning of my humble online musical career.  He’s a super nice guy, and a very generous one.  Though he’s known mainly as a “mandolin guy,” we have long shared many common interests.  He’s found and shared dozens of rare images and bits of information over the years; some are treasures from his personal collection (like my own, shared with all of you), while others have been pointers to newly discovered web finds (like the topic of this blog, which he found completely through serendipity).  You’ll find him thanked or credited in my old Dolceola article on and pages by the dozens: the Shutt study, Bohmann/MayFlower, Gibson, Epi harp guitar, and in various Galleries and Iconography pages.

A graphic and web designer by profession, his musical pursuits are posted here:

As always, thanks, Jim!

  1. Jenny Prowse Says:

    Hi There, I’m doing some history on my great uncles Giovanni & Reno Cera and came across your blog! I have many memories as a young girl listening to them play at family gatherings 🙂 I actually have one of his mandolins that i am about to get restored. Apparently he sold some to America, womnder where they are now!

    Any way Cheers


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