The oldest bouzouki case

Out of the coffin!

During the last years, extensive discussion and research has been done, regarding the oldest dated bouzouki instruments and their famous luthiers.

But we have collected  few information regarding the way the first bouzouki players were storing, and transporting their musical instruments back in 1900s era. Further more, we have collected even fewer information regarding the use of bouzouki cases and their makers.

To my question  in  Rempetiko Forum the member Pakag (Panagiotis Kagiafas: Researcher of the Greek lutherie history) published a photograph from his archives, with the oldest up to now bouzouki case of  the  G.X.Evangelides 1900 bouzouki instrument.

 Image is property of
Image is property of

For more information regarding the G.X.Evangelides 1900 bouzouki instrument please visit

Evangelides 1900 bouzouki. Image is property of

Examining the photo and from the information Mr. Kagiafas gives us, this  seems to be the original bouzouki case dated somewhere in 1900s. It follows the form and construction of the early 1800s-1900s wood coffin musical instrument cases.

Coffin cases named after their shape.They been made by wood with usually a Red or Green lining (indicating in some cases the origin of the coffin case. Red lining for cases constructed in England, and Green lining for cases made in French)

Inexpensive coffin cases usually carry metal fastening hooks and thin metallic handles,which look more like a thick bent wire.

Handle from Evangelides case: Image is property of

More expensive models, use heavy brass beautiful handles as the Martin coffin cases

Other models used a combination of metal hardware and strong leather handle.

Photo taken from EBay listing

Around the turn of the century (1900s), wooden coffin cases were replaced by fabric, canvas cases or leather cases.

Musical Instrument cases have a long history.
String musical instruments have been used for over  2000 years. The oldest case found for stringed instrument dating from the Yuan Dynasty (1297-1368 AD).

Photo taken from the book: The Art & History of Violin Cases Paperback by Glenn Wood

Violin makers in Northern Italy, as the great Cremonese makers perfected their violin cases to secure their instruments in long and bumpy journeys with horse drawn carriages.

 Stradivari violin case circa 1680.The image taken from

Early coffin cases for musical instruments dating back in the 17th century.
The first mass-produced cases were the so-called "coffin cases" used in France and Germany.
Black, and with a coffin-like shape, they held the instrument firmly in place with special straps and a section to snap the bow in place. (

As for the bouzouki instrument, and the old bouzouki cases, due to the lack of information and the few existing vintage cases, I am wondering if one day these cases will have equal collectible value as the instruments themselves!

If someone has more information or photographs from vintage bouzouki cases please email me at Thank you!

* Accordingly to the  blogger and amateur Rebetiko songwriter Pikinos ( on an interview he took from the musician and famous bouzouki soloist Niko Pourpouraki, Mr.Pourpourakis testified that he migrated to USA on a boat, carrying his bouzouki instrument inside a paper bag.

** The Rebetiko Forum member Babis, pointed out an old photograph from Hlias Petropoulos book (page 551,9th Edition) illustrating the musicians Manolis Xiotis, Mpagianteras and Sitampelos carrying their bouzouki instruments inside fabric/canvas soft cases.

***The same member, pointed out the testimony of Stelios Vamvakaris on "I like hearts like mine" where he describes carrying his father's, Markos Vamvakaris bouzouki,  in a leather (says with much admiration "leather") case.

****The author and researcher Stavros Kourousis, posted on Rebetiko Forum a photograph of the wooden case from the unique and famous Giovan Tsaous tabourobouzouko.

***** The researcher and traditional luthier Giannis Tsoulogiannis, posted in  Rebetiko forum part of  1913 Anastasios Stathpoulos catalogue:

From Stathopoulos 1913 cataloque
Canvas case $ 1.50
Green Feltron case $ 1.25
Leather case $ 6.75 (with $ 7 someone could buy in 1913 a A.Stathopoulos taboura)
Imitation leather case $  5.50 

****** I am posting sample of  cases found in internet from 1920-1926 House of Sathopoulo banjo/ukulele

Lower a 1906 Gibson (A. Stathopoulos competitor) A4 Mandolin hard canvas Case
A typical canvas case of the period, it could have been produced by Geib & Schaefer, Maulbetsch & Whittemore, Lyon & Healey or many other builders. These may have been named “canvas cases” but as you can see they are canvas covered cardboard or strawboard and offered a reasonable amount of protection.(

Leather case from 1910 Gibson F-2 mandolin

c.1910 German Waldzither, soft canvas case


  1. Dear Spyro,

    I am neither "blogger" nor "amateur songwriter"; I am simply Πίκινος or Pikinos if you prefer.

    Thank you for your interest on Pourpourakis interview; notice that he was calling his first cretan bouzouki (unknown luthier) as παλιομπούζουκο (=wrecked old bouzouki).

    Friendy regards,


  2. Χρόνια πολλά Σπύρο


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