Cakewalks were probably played on mandolins and guitars shortly after the first cakewalks were published in 1895, and rags shortly after the first rags were published in 1897. Individual sheets and folio collections of arrangements (usually for 2 mandolins and guitar with piano accompaniment) appeared in the 1890’s. The first known collection devoted specifically to ragtime was Brainard’s Ragtime Collection for Mandolin, Guitar and Piano which was published in Chicago in 1900. It included 20 selections, mostly arranged by August Schoeller, and featured William Krell’s celebrated “Mississippi Rag” which had been a big seller in its piano arrangement. Some publishers such as Whitney Warner (later Remick) issued more than 20 folios, while others published only a few. The last known folios containing arrangements of rags for mandolin and guitar were published in the 1920’s by the William J. Smith company which specialized in music for stringed instruments.
There were also magazines devoted to stringed instruments, most notably the Cadenza, which began publication in Kansas City, Missouri in 1894. These periodicals also published arrangements for mandolin and guitar, and disseminated information about players and playing techniques.
W.C. Townsend was apparently the first mandolinist to record a cakewalk (“Who Dar?”, 1899) followed by African American Seth Weeks (“At a Georgia Camp Meeting”, 1901; “Whistling Rufus”, 1903). The Ossman-Dudley Trio, consisting of Vess Ossman on 5-string banjo, Audley Dudley on 12-string mandolin, and his brother George Dudley on 36-string harp guitar, was the first string band to record rags in 1906. Their records of “St. Louis Tickle” and “Chicken Chowder” were very popular and remained in print beyond the ragtime era.
This recording and its predecessor Rag Time Skedaddlers (Mandophone CD0901) are, so far as we know, the first modern recordings devoted almost exclusively to these early arrangements of rags and cakewalks for mandolins and guitar.