19th-Century Martin Guitar

Value (2012) | $5,500 Retail$6,500 Retail

This is a Martin guitar that was originally my great-grandmother's. And it's in the possession of my father, who asked me to bring it over here today. It's one of the few tangible items that he has from his grandmother, because she died about 20 years before he was born. She was born roughly 1840 and died just after the turn of the century, was a Civil War bride, and lived near Clarksville, Virginia, which is down on the North Carolina border. I don't know about her musical abilities, but we do know that she had a guitar. I don't know when she got it.

Well, there's some things about this that we could talk about as far as the guitar, and it has the original case. This is called a coffin case. And it's in the original finish, has cut nails holding it together. One thing I wanted everybody to see is this old Southern Railway sticker where it was shipped on the railroad, probably one time when she was traveling. But what this is, this is a C.F. Martin Aught 28, is what they call it. It has a spruce front, it has rosewood sides and back with inlay. And this is called a pyramid bridge. That was very popular in the 19th century. And this style of guitar is called a parlor guitar. There were entire bands that ladies would form back at the turn of the century. I've seen old photographs of entire bands of ladies and gentlemen with mandolins and guitars, and they would actually go out and play in public in these stringed instrument bands. This guitar is especially nice because of the condition and the case and everything. And it's a very nice example of, you know, condition. Good survivor of the era. There are several that have sold at auction for as much as $2,000 to $3,500. If I were putting an insurance value on it, I would say, you know, at least $3,000 to $5,000.

Wow. I know that my dad would never sell it.

Yeah, I was going to say, something like this is priceless in a family.


Appraisal Details

Ken Farmer LLC
Charlottesville, VA
Update (2012)
$5,500 Retail$6,500 Retail
Appraised value (1998)
$3,000 Retail$5,000 Retail
Richmond, VA (August 28, 1998)

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