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Thread: Wurlitzer mandolin?

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    Default Wurlitzer mandolin?

    is the listing on Ebay for that 1923 mandolin really a Martin? did not know they made them for Wurlitzer. Looks like a beauty. Ken

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    Default Re: Wurlitzer mandolin?

    I couldn't find the listing but Martin built guitars for Wurlitzer and the 1923 date would be about right at least as far as a guitar would go so it is very possible that Martin also produced mandolins for Wurlitzer. If you could post the link to the listing that would be good.

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Wurlitzer mandolin?

    Wurlitzer-Martin 1923 A Style mandolin

    Sure looks like a Martin. It looks suspiciously mint condition, tho. A little too shiny.
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    Default Re: Wurlitzer mandolin?

    That is what they did on the guitars --stamped "Wurlitzer" on the back of the headstock. That could be Koa if the color is true on the photo, otherwise mahogany. The couple of Wurlitzer -Martin guitars that I have seen were Koa. One was a Hawaiian converted to a standard guitar and one was standard from the get go but both were Koa. Martin and Co. was still stamped on the back strip. I would feel very confident that that is a Martin and if that is the original finish --wow! Someone kept that thing polished in the case and probably meant to get around to playing it someday. Original finish or not the price as it stands right now is pretty good.

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    Default Re: Wurlitzer mandolin?

    I went back and looked at the photos. No dirt or grime anywhere, no fret wear. A little spot on the side that you can see it came in contact with the case and some oxidation on the headstock finish makes me think that this is no refinish or respray just a really well cared for original mandolin.

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    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Wurlitzer mandolin?

    A bit of a puzzle. According to Mike Longworth's Martin Guitars: A History (1980), "For a short time between 1922 and 1924, Martin made a special line of guitars for Wurlitzer. These had the Wurlitzer stamp on the back of the head and utilized the single ring rosette like the Foden models [made for guitarist William Foden 1914-17]...Early Wurlitzer models were not serially numbered. Beginning Feb. 28, 1923, Martin serial numbers were used. The last ones with Wurlitzer designations were made March 22, 1924. After that time the Wurlitzer stores used regular Martin guitars." (p.116-17).

    Wurlitzer-labeled Martin guitars before 1923 had separate "Wurlitzer" model designations; the 0-18, for example, was Wurlitzer Model 2085, and Martin made 66 un-numbered 2085 guitars for Wurlitzer. Instruments sold in 1923 would have serial numbers in the regular Martin series. Longworth shows a record of ukuleles, tiples and taropatches also being given Wurlitzer model designations, in the 800 series, but no record of mandolins. However, we could probably assume that if Wurlitzer was buying guitars and ukuleles from Martin, they could well have bought mandolins as well.

    The Martin serial number 10789 is accurate for a mandolin built in 1923 (10196-11020). There is a "Wurlitzer stamp on the back of the head" as Longworth specifies, and a "C F Martin, Nazareth PA" stamp on the backstrip. So if it's a counterfeit, someone has done his/her research to label it authentically. Further, the fact that it's numbered in the Martin serial number sequence, also jibes with the statement that 1923 Wurlitzer instruments had Martin serial numbers.

    As to condition, well, there are "mint" instruments from that period that just haven't been played, for whatever reason; there are refinished instruments that look "as new." What makes me a tiny bit suspicious is that there don't seem to be Martin records of making mandolins for Rudolph Wurlitzer Co., just guitars and uke-family instruments. Doesn't mean one couldn't exist, though.
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    Default Re: Wurlitzer mandolin?

    Looks like mahogany to me. And like it has been refinished. A bit pricey at the BIN at >1.1K for an A. In any case, it looks to be in good shape. I had a mid '20s B for awhile that didn't sound as good as my '53 A. Just the same, it sounded real good. Thanks, Allen, for the detailed SN work.

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    Default Re: Wurlitzer mandolin?

    The Wurlitzer stamp gives it a little bit of a curiosity factor but wouldn't raise the value much if any from a standard Martin from the same period and condition --I can't see anyone going to the trouble of faking that. A '23 0-18 Wurlitzer Guitar isn't particularly more valuable than a '23 0-18 Martin. It doesn't appear to have any distinctive characteristics from a standard Martin other than the headstock stamp. I'd like to see it first hand but the condition of the headstock makes me think it's not refinished. The tailpiece looks as new as well as the tuners. I've seen some instruments that were that good and that old so why not this one? I guess if someone was really,really interested they could give Dick Boak a call for identification. Martin did keep good records. Longworth is pretty accurate as far as identifying things that are listed but if he doesn't mention something it could only mean that he missed it, not that it never existed. If it turns out that it is all original and that clean then it is one of those rare things that does fall into the "collectible" category --a 90 year old instrument with no play wear is not common.

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    Default Re: Wurlitzer mandolin?

    It was indeed built by Martin, and it has indeed been polished up with something. Refinished or a heck of a lot of polish of some sort. The price is in Hollywood, the Wurlitzer Martin's generally don't eclipse the standard Martin's for price. Years ago I passed on a Wurlitzer Martin guitar that I should have bought.

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    Default Re: Wurlitzer mandolin?

    We should all polish our mandolins. This one definitely got a shine 'cause it was getting it's picture took. There are no bids at $895 so who knows if it has a reserve. $1100 BIN is yes, probably too much. I searched around though and Elderly has a couple similar and close to the $895 number but they had repairs and not in the condition of this one. I'm not the greatest fan of Martin mandolins and if I had $900 burning a hole in my pocket I'm pretty sure I could land an old Gibson A for that. With that in mind, your correct --$900 is far to much for a Martin A. That's me but someone that really likes those Martins may of course feel differently about it.

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    Full Grown and Cussin' brunello97's Avatar
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    Default Re: Wurlitzer mandolin?

    A lot of Martin mandolins continue to show up for sale. The prices do seem to be escalating. Maybe this one is ahead of the curve. I like them, but don't confuse the sound with my Gibsons. I had a Ditson labeled Martin for awhile and unlike the Wurlitzer, there was no CF Martin stamp, only a SN (and Ditson stamp.) Wurlitzer seems a bit like Ditson, commissioning a wide range of instruments for its label(s). Some excellent and some very ordinary. Both are worth keeping an eye out for.

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    Default Re: Wurlitzer mandolin?

    Quote Originally Posted by brunello97 View Post
    A lot of Martin mandolins continue to show up for sale. The prices do seem to be escalating. Maybe this one is ahead of the curve. I like them, but don't confuse the sound with my Gibsons. I had a Ditson labeled Martin for awhile and unlike the Wurlitzer, there was no CF Martin stamp, only a SN (and Ditson stamp.) Wurlitzer seems a bit like Ditson, commissioning a wide range of instruments for its label(s). Some excellent and some very ordinary. Both are worth keeping an eye out for.

    Mick
    I think the prices of Martin mandolins were escalating a few years ago when they were going for $1100+, but are now readily available for under a grand, and in nice shape to boot - if photos are to be believed.

    I've heard a few of them on Youtube and, although they have a nice ring, given the age of most of them, I wouldn't want to sink over 8-9 hundred into one.

    But, that's just my opinion, and that plus a buck er two will getcha a coffee and donut.

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    Full Grown and Cussin' brunello97's Avatar
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    Default Re: Wurlitzer mandolin?

    Quote Originally Posted by epicentre View Post
    But, that's just my opinion, and that plus a buck er two will getcha a coffee and donut.
    I never really had donuts until I moved up north. Man, they are good, but my wife tells me to lay off them and she's right.

    I agree with you on the Martin pricing. I got my '53 A for $325 a few years back but that was an act of providence. It sounds like church bells on a Sunday morning. They are great mandolins, $8-900 sounds about right to me at the high end, value wise, but that is always subject to whims. (I only paid $900 for my '16 Gibson, so the skeptics have a point.) The Martin quality is there, and you have to dig the low-key design aesthetic. Kind of the anti-scroll.

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    Default Re: Wurlitzer mandolin?

    It's not just Martin's,it's vintage instruments. Very special and actual rare items excluded everything else is coming down and in some cases crashing. Vintage instruments did like real estate,it appeared that they were going up in value and that there was no top, a lot of people saw them as good investments and jumped in. 10,20,30% a year is a pretty good place to sink some money. If you had real money maybe you bought a Loar,a fern, a 1930's OM Martin or a Euphonon guitar but if you were everyone else you had to settle and if you came late to the show you probably lost money on those less than extremely rare,truly collectible instruments. The dealers have a vested interest in trying to keep the prices up and at the very least they do keep an eye on each other and most seem to communicate and trade back and forth. Time will tell if the vintage instrument cabal can get a hold on their own economic meltdown. If you ever thought you might like to own and PLAY an old vintage instrument this is beginning to look a good time to start shopping.

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Wurlitzer mandolin?

    I think the asking prices are still up there, left over from the boom, but unless you are willing to wait it out, if you want immediate cash, as a seller you need to bite the bullet. As a buyer, it is a candy store. Still, I see some pretty hefty asking prices for Martin and Gibson flattop guitars, for instance.
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    Default Re: Wurlitzer mandolin?

    As an owner of some old vintage stuff I'm not particularly happy about the falling prices. As someone that liked to find old instruments and fix and restore them for resale ----I was gearing up to make this an actual business venture as I wind my wood working business down---I'm kind of sick about it. Be that as it may there seems to be a lot of inventory of old instruments. At a guitar show someone had a wall full of vintage fender guitars -Teles and Strats all $20k and up and I'm thinking "How rare can they be if I'm looking at 20 of them in the same place?" If I was to sell an old Gibson or old Martin or my house for that matter I might ask for a stupid high price figuring I can always lower the price if need be. Asking prices aren't necessarily selling prices and I have been watching ebay like a hawk for the last few months and with rare exceptions most things are selling for much lower than they were a year ago or they don't sell or don't meet reserve. The vintage instrument stores and sites that I visit seem to be sitting on stuff a long time as they attempt to try and hold the line and not drop their prices. It could be that THEY in fact paid too much for their inventory and need to make what they are asking to stay afloat. I will probably do some buying if I see something I would like to work on and hope that sometime there could be a turn around. I am a little pessimistic about there actually ever being a turn around. It seemed to me that most of the buying of vintage instruments that I observed was by people of my generation. Grew up in the 60's and 70's and when they got to the point that they could afford the things that they wanted but couldn't afford when they were young they bought them. I fear that if those same people decide that they are over it then it's over. Then it's back to musicians wanting this stuff and we know they don't have any money!

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