Signed banjo-mandolin in case : Armourer Sergeant W G Cosgriff, Auxiliary Army Ordnance Corps, AIF

Accession Number REL24625.001
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Heraldry
Physical description Animal hide, Cardboard, Flannelette, Leatherette, Nickel-plated brass, Steel, Wood
Maker Reliance Works
Place made United Kingdom: England, West Midlands, Birmingham
Date made c 1914-1915
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918

'Reliance' brand banjo-mandolin stored in original black leatherette-bound carrying case. Standard resonator-style banjo-mandolin with circular plywood body, nickel-plated brass fittings, floating wooden bridge and goat skin head. Standard mandolin tuning with four double strings sets. The machine heads are brass and ebonite; the lower G string is missing, as is its tuning post. The skin has been signed, with the following text legible: 'H.M.T. 'RARANGA' Plymouth 8.9.19 Durban 7.10.19 Adelaide 25.10.19 Melbourne 27.10.19 (under strings near bridge); G.H. Winterbottom; David P. Murray; T.L. Riordan; E. Snell; I.B. Comne; L.E.Winkler; L Le Lamar; J Chalmers; M. Moonan 1948'.

The banjo-mandolin is stored in its original shaped carrying case of sewn construction, made from leatherette-bound cardboard, with leather carrying handle rivetted to upper face, a circular snap lock to the top end of the lid, and a hasp at the other. The name 'RELIANCE', in a decorative script, is impressed into the lid. The interior is lined with aqua flannelette. The internal string storage box contains five string envelopes marked 'Black Diamond String, Manufactured by National Musical String Co, New Brunswick, NJ, USA' - one is empty, four contain unused strings. There is also one packet of 'The Orpheus Strings', made in London, and an unidentified shaped and plated metal accessory.

Stored with the cased instrument is a folded paper chart entitled 'Diagram of the Mandolin', showing the notes of each string at each fret pictorially. A key, titled 'Description of the Diagram' explains in seven paragraphs, the meaning of the fingering pattern.

History / Summary

Banjo-mandolin used by 18 Armourer Sergeant Walter George Cosgriff, born Melbourne, Victoria, an unmarried civil servant from Albert Park, who enlisted on 4 February 1916 at Melbourne, aged 27. Initially assigned to C Company, 37 Battalion, Cosgriff was transferred, on 16 April, to Headquarters Details, 37 Battalion as an armourer sergeant.

He embarked for overseas service aboard the transport HMAT Persic which departed Melbourne on 3 June. After training in England, he travelled to France on 22 November 1916. A month later, on 18 December, when 37 Battalion was at Armentieres, he was detached to 3 Australian Division Headquarters and remained attached until 12 February 1918, when he was transferred to the Auxiliary Army Ordnance Corps, and remained with them until war's end.

He undertook extended training leave in England, where he learned pattern making at the Cardigan Works, Birmingham. Cosgriff returned to Australia aboard the transport Raranga, disembarking at Melbourne on 27 October 1919. He was discharged on 6 March 1920. The return journey is commemorated on the skin of this banjo-mandolin.