Circa 1860
C. F. Martin Harp-Guitar

© Frank Ford, 1999, 2002; Photos by FF

There are a few extant Martin harp-guitars made in the early part of the twentieth century, but this is the only known example made in the period between 1839 and 1867. It has a number of special features, including the lyre peghead (like a double "Stauffer") and the square upper shoulder "Renaissance" body, and a modified fan bracing.

Check out the photos of Martin's original sales ledger, where this instrument is identified only as a "ten string guitar" ordered by Olaf Ericsson of Richmond. Apparently he was a teacher and sold several of these to his students.

This fine instrument was recently discovered in storage in an outbuilding in Mississippi, where it rested in its original "coffin" style wooden case. It's a size "1" body, 13 inches across the widest part. All ten ivory pegs are original, as are seven of the bridge pins. I made the reproduction bridge in the early Martin style, replacing a seriously bad Washburn type bridge which had been installed many years ago. Click here for some "before" pictures! The neck is the only one-piece black maple neck I've seen on a Martin instrument. The support pillar is turned ebony.

Please click the small images

Richard Johnston took these document photos while he was researching the Martin archives for the updated version of the Mike Longworth Martin history book, due out sometime in 2003.

My thanks to Sigrun Seifert of Petaluma, who did the fine color restoration of the damaged area around the bridge!

For more details on identifying and dating Martin instruments, check out the big book of Martin

Back to Museum Main Page

Back to Index Page