Martin Parlor Guitar, ca. 1850
Appraised Value: $1,800 - $2,400
IMAGE: 1 of 1
Appraisal Video: (2:51)
Director, Fine Musical Instruments
GUEST: I actually found it in an architectural antique store in Buffalo, New York. It was hanging from a string, broken in half, and I asked the guy at the store how much for the antique guitar. And he told me, $40. So I, uh, snapped it up and took it to a guitar dealer and got it repaired, and, uh, here it is.
APPRAISER: Now, did you know what it was when you saw it?
GUEST: I suspected that it was an old Martin guitar.
GUEST: From the neck and some of the accoutrements. But nobody has been able to really date it for me.
APPRAISER: And you've had it for how long?
GUEST: I've had it about four or five years.
APPRAISER: Okay. I think we can pretty much tell what the age is.
GUEST: All right.
APPRAISER: The first thing we'll do is look at the slotted peghead up here. And that's very typical of Martin guitars that were made around the mid-1800s. What's a little bit unusual is that it has very nice, maybe even ivory inlayed tuners on the side with silver mounting on it. The fingerboard is made of rosewood, and the bridge is also made of rosewood. The Martin guitars of that period were usually made with ebony fingerboards and bridges. It's a very old spruce top. The first thing we want to do is to identify the model number, and Martin had a very wonderful system of identification. They were very consistent. By the measurements of this guitar, we identify it as a size number three. The second number identifies the level of trim that it had, so we look for clues like the rosewood binding on the edge of the body, and the amount of inlay it has near the sound hole. So we identify this as a Model 17, but then, when we look at the type of wood used for the back and the sides, it was nearly always made of rosewood. But here we have mahogany. So, it was kind of an attempt by Martin to build a guitar that was more on the lines of an economy instrument. So, that would mean that it's a Model 16. So, it's a Model 3-16. And to get the age on it, we look inside the guitar, and we find the stamp that's up on the neck block. And beginning in 1866, it said CF Martin & Company, but before that, it just said CF Martin, so we know that this guitar is probably before 1866. I would date it around 1850. Right now, these guitars-- they're pretty conservatively priced. It's probably worth between $1,800 and $2,400.
GUEST: All right.
APPRAISER: Which makes them very affordable, and in the future, I think that price is only going to go up, because they're not making these anymore.
GUEST: No, they're not. Because it's not worth that much, I can keep it. (laughs)
This website is produced for PBS Online by WGBH Boston. ©1997-2015 WGBH Educational Foundation.
ANTIQUES ROADSHOW is a trademark of the BBC and is produced for PBS by WGBH under license from BBC Worldwide.
WGBH and PBS are not responsible for the content of websites linked to or from ANTIQUES ROADSHOW Online.
PBS is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.