Martin Style 3-K Ukulele, ca. 1930

Value (2012) | $3,000 Retail$3,500 Retail
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APPRAISER:
As soon as I saw this case walk in, I said, "It's a Martin uke."

GUEST:
You knew!

APPRAISER:
Usually higher grade ukes wound up in these nice hard cases. Tell me how you got the uke.

GUEST:
My dad was a bluegrass musician, who was also an inveterate yardsaler. And he picked this up probably about 18 or 20 years ago for less than $10.

APPRAISER:
Oh, not bad.

GUEST:
And when he passed away, he left all of his instruments to me. And this was among those, and I think it's one of the sweetest things I've ever seen.

APPRAISER:
It's just perfect. It's like a miniature beautiful Martin guitar.

GUEST:
Exactly, exactly.

APPRAISER:
And that was the thing about Martin ukes. It's not like these asymmetrical, kind of funky-looking Hawaiian ukes. They are perfect objects. And this one is nicely appointed with multiple bindings, and little celluloid ornament, celluloid strip down the fingerboard. And what makes it a higher end Martin uke is that it's got an ebony fingerboard that goes all the way down to the sound hole, instead of these short rosewood fingerboards the lower-end models have. The cheapest model was called a Style O. And the Style O had no bindings, the Style 1 had dark bindings, usually rosewood and then later plastic. And the Style 2 had white binding. And this is a Style 3.

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRAISER:
And to make it even better, this is a Style 3-K, which means it's a Style 3 koa wood model. So they made them both in mahogany and koa. And it's nice because it has not just plain looking koa. You see all this nice figure to it?

GUEST:
Right.

APPRAISER:
See it both in the front and in the back, this nice horizontal flame, which if you cleaned this a little bit would be a little bit more prominent. And the metal friction pegs that they started using in the late '20s. So I'm going to think that period-wise, this is just getting into 1930 or maybe the very early '30s. And that's the original hard case. So a 3-M or 3 mahogany model would be worth about $2,000 to $2,500.

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRAISER:
Okay?

GUEST:
Yes.

APPRAISER:
So a koa wood model, I would suggest a retail value of at least another $1,000.

GUEST:
Really?

APPRAISER:
So $3,000. Maybe $3,500. If this had been a couple years back, when ukes were a little bit more sought after, the market might have supported even $4,500.

GUEST:
Oh, my goodness. This is awesome. He would be so excited.

APPRAISER:
Great, are you going to play it?

GUEST:
Absolutely. Of course I will.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Vintage Instruments, Inc.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Appraised value (2012)
$3,000 Retail$3,500 Retail
Event
Cincinnati, OH (July 21, 2012)
Period
20th Century
Form
Ukulele

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