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Martin Guitar: An acoustic history played out in timeless tunes

July 20, 2015

Filed under Community and Domestic Life, Pennsylvania Treasures

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This Martin Guitar dates to about 1870.

This Martin guitar is made of Brazilian rosewood, mahogany and spruce. The instrument is called a 2 ½ -26 style, which designates the fashion of trim at the edge and around the rosette. The guitar has been dated to about 1870, and while the stamp inside still says “C.F. Martin/New York,” it is commonly known that Martin continued to use this stamp though he had already relocated to Pennsylvania.

 

Long respected in the music community, C.F. Martin & Company of Nazareth, Penn., has produced acoustic instruments since 1833. Founder Christian Frederick Martin Sr. initially took up the family craft of cabinet making, but soon left his native Markneukirchen, in present-day Germany , for Vienna to study guitars. Upon his return, Martin found himself stuck in a feud between the cabinet makers’ guild and violin makers’ guild. At that time, craft guilds dictated the products that craftsmen could or could not make. Martin felt this guild system limited his opportunities, so he immigrated to the United States on September 9, 1833.

Arriving in New York City, C. F. Martin quickly opened a music shop on the Lower West Side and started to craft guitars. He also ran a retail shop that sold other instruments and sheet music. During the early 1800s, his business in New York City continued to grow. However, he and his family began to yearn for their homeland. At the time, his business partner, Henry Schatz, moved to the still rural hills of the Lehigh Valley. When the family visited, they fell in love with the area. Martin sold his store in New York and bought land on the outskirts of Nazareth. He remained there until his death.

This particular six-string model Martin Guitar is made of Brazilian rosewood, mahogany and spruce. The instrument is called a 2 ½ -26 style, which designates the fashion of trim at the edge and around the center sound hole, known as the rosette. The outer trim design is called the half-herringbone, with the simple black and white inlay at the rosette. The guitar has been dated to about 1870 and while the stamp inside, on the back of the guitar still says “C.F. Martin/New York,” it is commonly known that Martin continued to use this stamp though he had already relocated to Pennsylvania. Martin continued to distribute his guitars from New York.

Martin guitars remain popular and are played by some of today’s most well-known musicians. These guitars are played by artists across the board from modern rock to modern country, from singer/songwriters to classic rock and classic country. These guitars are as timeless as the music they make.

CAP curator Carol Buck selected this week’s Pennsylvania Treasure.

 

About Pennsylvania Treasures:
In early 2012, The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission launched the Collections Advancement Project (CAP), a program to inventory and catalog our vast and significant holdings of art and artifacts. These efforts are resulting in better stewardship of our collections which represent Pennsylvania arts, culture, history, sciences, business and agriculture. As a component of the project, CAP curators have researched rarely exhibited artifacts and works of art. We are sharing these Pennsylvania Treasures with the public through weekly updates.