This is a really well built 8 string mandolin made from an Old Virginia cigar box. This type of build was often over looked for the more common homemade instruments such as guitars, banjos and violins of that era.
However, during the early Jazz craze the mandolin was also popular, and in the 20's and 30's at a time of widespread poverty and economic depression you knew it was only a matter of time before folks saw that a cigar box was the perfect size to be a mandolin body.
Here is plans for build you own cigar box mandolin dated 1922
I tell you what, times sure where different back then, people use to take matters into there own hands, from building an instrument to building this great country. It was all about "do-it yourself!"