We don't know who Woody Williams was, or exactly when he built this mandolin, but judging from the age of the gears, we are guessing he made it in the late 1940s. There is a stamp inside that simply reads "Woody Williams Elmira, New York," so at least we have a location for its construction. Even a quick glance suggests that in many ways Woody's ambition exceeded his ability. The mandolin's shape is ungainly, the sunburst is extremely crude and the general level of craftsmanship is raw.
But unlike many of these homebrew efforts, the neck is actually well shaped and plays quite well. The tone is bright and crisp and not displeasing. We're not sure where Woody got his inspiration, but the boxy shape does suggest the mandolins made by the Shutt Company, a group of luthiers who worked in Topeka, Kansas around 1915. This mandolin is not a great instrument by any stretch of the imagination, but it is a wonderful example of playable folk art.