1952 Fender Esquire Guitar
Appraised Value: $35,000
IMAGE: 1 of 1
Appraisal Video: (3:01)
Vice President & Department Head, Musical Instruments
GUEST: Well, my father-in-law played in a cowboy band back in the '50s and '60s. And he bought this guitar in 1954 for $300, and played it for several years, and then it kind of got put in the basement for about 50 years, and he passed away a couple years ago and gave it to my husband. He so enjoyed it his whole life. And my husband plays the guitar and he wanted my husband to have it, so... here we are today.
APPRAISER: You brought in a Fender Esquire, different from the Telecaster, in the sense that it only is fitted out with one pickup, which gives it this wonderful, twangy, hard sound that country-western players loved.
APPRAISER: Which is why he probably chose this guitar.
APPRAISER: It is the guitar that Stephen Stills built a career on. It's a guitar that David Bromberg built a career on. It is the model of guitar that Bruce Springsteen built his guitar on. There's a lot of different methodologies of dating these instruments. One of which is to pull the instrument apart and look at the dating processes inside. But we don't need to do that today. We're going to sort of unweave a little puzzle here
APPRAISER: that's sort of put together. Um, great, great instrument; survived with its original bridge cover that they call the ashtray.
APPRAISER: And that's why they call it that. And the bridge bears a serial number and that serial number is 0-3-4-9. Now, pretty early for Fender. Between 1950 and 1952, this series of serial numbers pops up. But we're not sure where in the equation.
APPRAISER: So, we want to look at it a little bit closer, and when we turn around and look at the back, where later serial numbers turn up on the neck plate...
APPRAISER:...there's nothing here.
APPRAISER: That's a good thing. We don't want to see anything there. But suddenly we see the screws are Philip's head screws-- these four bolts that hold the neck in place-- and that tells me that it was made at some point in 1952, because prior to 1952...
APPRAISER: ...straight screws.
GUEST: Straight screws... Ah! Interesting.
APPRAISER: Like the screws used on the pick guard. Fabulous condition on this instrument. And it has something else-- another determinant of value-- and that is freshness to the market. This is the type of guitar that's come out from underneath the bed and it's really what excites collectors today.
APPRAISER: Collectors today who exist in an extremely volatile and punchy market. The value of this guitar three years ago is astronomically different than what it is today.
APPRAISER: I would advise an insurance evaluation on this guitar of $35,000.
GUEST: Oh, my gosh. Okay. My husband will be very happy. Wow. We had no idea it was worth that much.
This website is produced for PBS Online by WGBH Boston. ©1997-2014 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.