Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS


Support ANTIQUES ROADSHOW by supporting public television! Give Today
  • ON TV
  • SHOP
  • The Roadshow Archive

    Late 1938 Martin D-18 Guitar

    Appraised Value:

    $28,000 - $30,000

    Appraised on: July 11, 2009

    Appraised in: Madison, Wisconsin

    Appraised by: David Bonsey

    Category: Musical Instruments

    Episode Info: Madison, Hour 1 (#1407)

    Originally Aired: February 15, 2010

    slideshow IMAGE: 1 of 2 Next 

    More Like This:

    Form: Acoustic Guitar
    Material: Mahogany, Spruce, Celluloid
    Period / Style: 20th Century
    Value Range: $28,000 - $30,000

    Related Links:

    Understanding Our Appraisals
    Useful tips to keep in mind when watching ANTIQUES ROADSHOW


    Appraisal Video: (3:31)


    Appraised By:

    David Bonsey
    Musical Instruments
    Director, Fine Musical Instruments
    Skinner, Inc.

    Appraisal Transcript:
    GUEST: This was my father-in-law's guitar. And he purchased it from his brother, who was a professional musician. I just know it's a 1938 Martin and he played it all the time. He really enjoyed it. He didn't really play much professionally. He tried to do that. I think in the '30s, there's a picture someplace of him with George Gobel.

    APPRAISER: Oh, really? He did make it onto the radio?

    GUEST: He did make it onto radio with George Gobel the one time.

    APPRAISER: What kind of music did he usually play?

    GUEST: It was a folk-type music. He would play songs such as "Froggie Went a-Courtin'" and he would play it for our kids, for the grandkids, and it was just fun-type music.

    APPRAISER: He didn't give it a lot of hard playing, and, most importantly, he didn't have work done on it. And therefore we have a guitar here that's pretty much in original condition...

    GUEST: Oh, okay.

    APPRAISER: The D-18 model is probably the most sought-after model by bluegrass and folk players.

    GUEST: Oh, really?

    APPRAISER: They like the D-18 because it's a relatively simple guitar. It doesn't have a whole lot of needless ornamentation. And what they love about it is that the back and sides are made of mahogany, which is, acoustically, a very, very fine wood, even though it's not very showy. So these actually work better with recordings and microphones, and it's what everybody wants. Now, the front of the guitar is made from spruce that came from the Adirondack Mountains.

    GUEST: Really?

    APPRAISER: The collectors really do like the Adirondack spruce. It has a softer, more mellow sound. This is all original, down to the bridge pins here. You can see that they're faded?

    GUEST: Mm-hmm. Yellow. What are they made of?

    APPRAISER: They're made of celluloid.

    GUEST: Are they? Okay.

    APPRAISER: These are the original frets, it's the original fingerboard, these were the original tuners that came with it. Inside the guitar, we have a stamp on the center strip that says "C.F. Martin, Nazareth, Pennsylvania," and on the upper block, where the neck is actually set in, it will have the model number, which is D-18, and it will have the serial number, which we can date accurately to late 1938. 1938 was a pivotal year for Martin, where they actually changed the bracing, the internal bracing on the guitar. So I'm just going to feel quickly right in here, and I feel that that "X" where the bracing crosses is very near the sound hole. So we call that "advanced bracing," which makes it a more valuable guitar.

    GUEST: Really? Okay.

    APPRAISER: You've had some correspondence with the Martin Company to find out about the model number, but what you didn't find out was what it's actually worth. Do you have an idea of that?

    GUEST: No, well, the letter said the new ones in the '60s were worth about a thousand, so we thought, well, maybe with inflation, about $5,000. I need to... we'd like to insure it properly.

    APPRAISER: Okay. The top has been overcoated lightly. And that just means a clear coat of varnish to cover up some of the wear that's happened to it. But that's not a big deal, because in today's market, the replacement value of this guitar, with the advanced bracing, would be about $28,000 to $30,000.

    GUEST: Okay, uh... Wow. Oh, my.

    APPRAISER: Thank you so much for bringing it.

    GUEST: Thank you. He would be so proud. It's such an honor for him, it really is. He was such a great guy.

    WGBH 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.

    ROADSHOW on Facebook ROADSHOW Tweets ROADSHOW on YouTube