William B. Tilton Guitar, ca. 1865

Value (2013) | $2,500 Retail$3,500 Retail

My grandmother used to clean house for people up at Holladay. And they gave her a guitar and she gave it to my mother, and my mother gave it to me.

The piece that you brought in today is exciting for a few reasons. It's an early guitar from about 1865 made in New York by William B. Tilton. Tilton was a bit of an inventor who came up with a lot of different ideas about guitar construction. And here's a great example of that American ingenuity. First, when we look at the top of the instrument-- typical spruce top-- but he's put the grain diagonally across the guitar, not parallel to the body of the instrument. Very odd, very offbeat. As we see inside with his silver plaque-- "Tilton Improved, New York"-- there's a bar that runs from the upper block straight on through the body of the instrument-- again, his invention. Of the Tiltons that I've seen in my time appraising, this is probably the best preserved and one of the highest quality ones. Wonderful peghead machines up here, silver medallion, the engraved silver tailpiece with this inlay pattern all around it. It's high Victorian design in all its aspects. It's a tough one to appraise for the reason that there's not a lot of them out there surviving and there's not a community of people who play them, though there's a small community of collectors. If I had this at auction, I'd probably be estimating it at about the $1,500 to $1,700 range at auction.


Appraisal Details

New York, NY
Update (2013)
$2,500 Retail$3,500 Retail
Appraised value (1999)
$1,500 Retail$1,700 Retail
Salt Lake City, UT (July 10, 1999)
19th Century
Silver, Wood

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