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Thread: 1924 Martin Pickguard

  1. #1
    Registered User DoubleE's Avatar
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    Default 1924 Martin Pickguard

    I was wondering if anyone has seen a pickguard like this on a Martin.Click image for larger version. 

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    The seller mentions remnants of a Dyer label on the headstock and the only information I can find about Dyer pertains to harp mandolins. I was wondering if this is a Dyer specific pickguard or maybe it was a replacement added to cover a top crack?

    https://reverb.com/item/21369868-mar...n-1924-natural

    Thanks-Steve

  2. #2
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    Default Re: 1924 Martin Pickguard

    It is likely that the pickguard is indeed a replacement.
    The Martin history books do not make mention of any instruments specifically made for Dyer. However, it is possible that some standard issue Martin instruments could have been sold through Dyer stores.

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    Default Re: 1924 Martin Pickguard

    (Not sure if the question breaks Cafe guidelines. If so, sorry, and please delete...)

    Given the surface texture of the pickguard in the Reverb photo w/ plenty of reflected light, might it be actual tortoise shell?
    - Ed

    "What our group lacks in musicianship is offset by our willingness to humiliate ourselves." - David Hochman

  4. #4

    Default Re: 1924 Martin Pickguard

    This may be a Martin made S S Stewart and it has a different pickguard to a Martin branded instrument. If Martin made a different style for S S S, then that may have been the same for Dyer but that is conjecture on my part. There are not enough photos to hazard a date for this mandolin but others may know.

    https://www.worthpoint.com/worthoped...arly-128142810

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    Default Re: 1924 Martin Pickguard

    I just can't see Martin applying such a far-far-from-elegant pickguard.
    - Ed

    "What our group lacks in musicianship is offset by our willingness to humiliate ourselves." - David Hochman

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    Registered User DoubleE's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1924 Martin Pickguard

    Thanks for your responses. I just heard back from the seller and she thinks it’s original. She and her husband are retired music store owners so I respect her opinion, but I still have my doubts.

    It seems to me that if this was built for Dyer with a different style pickguard it would be documented in the Martin books and it would probably have a different headstock stamp.

    I’m thinking maybe the guard was replaced a long time ago for whatever reason so with aging it appears to be original. Just a guess.
    Last edited by DoubleE; Nov-21-2019 at 1:40pm. Reason: spelling

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    Default Re: 1924 Martin Pickguard

    While it is possible that Martin might have shipped an instrument with an oversized pickguard as a special order, a pickguard of that size and shape is not consistent with Martin practices.

    An in-hand inspection of the instrument might or might not shed some light on the originality of this pickguard. If the pickguard was installed a very long time ago, it might be hard to distinguish it from original factory work.
    Last edited by rcc56; Nov-22-2019 at 3:34pm.

  8. #8
    Registered User DoubleE's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1924 Martin Pickguard

    Quote Originally Posted by rcc56 View Post
    While it is possible that Martin might have shipped an instrument with an oversized pickguard as a special order, a pickguard of that size and shape is not consistent with Martin practices.

    An in-hand inspection of the instrument might or might not shed some light on the originality of this pickguard. If the pickguard was installed a very long time ago, it might be hard to distinguish it from original factory work.
    I just found some interesting information in the Martin books. They did do some different shapes for some retailers(Montgomery Ward) on some of their guitars. So I guess itís possible Dyer could have requested a different shape pickguard without rebranding the instrument. Just another guess.

    It would be nice to see it in person. I really had no interest in purchasing it. I just noticed that it looked a little odd and was wondering if anyone new anything about it, just for my own personal knowledge.

  9. #9

    Default Re: 1924 Martin Pickguard

    My 1920 Martin style A has this pickguard. The material used on the Reverb listing looks like celluloid, similar to that used on mine, but I'm wondering if some early damage may be hiding under there, hence the oversized guard.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Martin did sometimes make some surprising variations for department store special orders, like this Ditson 000-42 "cloud" pickguard:



    or this really bizarre guard on a 0-17S made for Montgomery Ward's catalog.

    Roger

    1920 Martin Style A
    Don MacRostie designed Stuart MacDonald A-style kit I built myself.
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    Default Re: 1924 Martin Pickguard

    Two things, that pickguard is pretty rough and really not up to Martin standards of the era and I believe Martin was still inlaying the pickguard when that was built.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  11. #11
    Registered User DoubleE's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1924 Martin Pickguard

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post
    Two things, that pickguard is pretty rough and really not up to Martin standards of the era and I believe Martin was still inlaying the pickguard when that was built.
    I agree that it looks rough and appears to be on top of the finish. I did notice in the Martin book that they did do some non inlaid pickguards on guitars for Montgomery Wards (Like the one in post #9).
    I was just thinking there might be the outside possibility that this could be a special request made by Dyer.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: 1924 Martin Pickguard

    Quote Originally Posted by DoubleE View Post
    I agree that it looks rough and appears to be on top of the finish. I did notice in the Martin book that they did do some non inlaid pickguards on guitars for Montgomery Wards (Like the one in post #9).
    I was just thinking there might be the outside possibility that this could be a special request made by Dyer.
    Most likely it was a mandolin made for Dyer by Martin. I think the pickguard is an add-on to cover some sins.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Default Re: 1924 Martin Pickguard

    Just been catching up on the Ken Burns country music series which is currently being show on the BBC. About 40 minutes into part two, there is a picture of the young Carter sisters and one of them is holding what looks like a Martin mandolin with a pickguard very much like this one.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: 1924 Martin Pickguard

    Quote Originally Posted by Ray(T) View Post
    Just been catching up on the Ken Burns country music series which is currently being show on the BBC. About 40 minutes into part two, there is a picture of the young Carter sisters and one of them is holding what looks like a Martin mandolin with a pickguard very much like this one.
    It does look similar, but I think the one in the Carter photos is possibly a Washburn.
    Click image for larger version. 

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  15. #15
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    Default Re: 1924 Martin Pickguard

    The one in the OP goes right up to the binding and is really rough around the curved part on the body. No way that came from Martin that way.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Default Re: 1924 Martin Pickguard

    Doesn't look like Martin work to me either. The work is not clean enough.

    I think it is after-market work, possibly from the 1930's. I see that color celluloid on a lot of '30's instruments.

    Or, to look at it from a different perspective, if it did come from Martin, the installer, the foreman, and the pre-shipment inspector were all having a really bad day.
    Last edited by rcc56; Nov-23-2019 at 5:23pm.

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    Default Re: 1924 Martin Pickguard

    Quote Originally Posted by DoubleE View Post
    It does look similar, but I think the one in the Carter photos is possibly a Washburn.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    You’re probably right; just caught a glimpse of it as I watched the programme. Scrolling through it again, although there is an arm in the way, it has the pointy end of the scratchplate alongside the fingerboard but “V” shaped - Yamaha style - top to the head.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: 1924 Martin Pickguard

    To me it looks like a trimmed OM guitar pickguard.
    Cabin Fever String Band, Bill Gorby and the Musical Mercenaries

  19. #19

    Default Re: 1924 Martin Pickguard

    Some quesitons:

    Let's leave the Dyer claim out of the equation and ask do you like it as a vintage Martin mandolin? The price is $750. Or would you prefer one with a more standard type pickguard? What are they selling for?

    Or, would the Dyer connection have meaning to you, if it is genuine? (I'm still not sure...) Would that connection make the mandolin worth more to you than a standard issue Martin mandolin from that period?

    The pickguard doesn't bother me and could possibly be used as a negotiating point to purchase it for a lower price. OTOH, if two Martin mandolins were available for the same price, I would chose the one with the standard pickguard. FWIW, the seller also mentions some repaired side cracks.....

  20. #20
    Registered User DoubleE's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1924 Martin Pickguard

    I should have stated in the OP that Iím not asking the pickguard question because I want to purchase this mandolin. Itís out of curiosity and to make myself more knowledgeable. I added the Reverb link for reference if someone wanted more information. If I was seeking buying advice, I would have posted in the online sales forum and not in vintage instruments.

    I just wanted to see if possibly someone had a Martin with a Dyer label and a pickguard like this. My initial instinct was what Mike said about covering some sins, but I didnít want to jump to any conclusions without trying to exhaust all possibilities.

    Thanks for everyoneís input.

    -Steve

  21. #21

    Default Re: 1924 Martin Pickguard

    I am curious, too. The Reverb link didn't show any clear photo or evidence of a Dyer label, so....

    And, of course, Dyer is associated with Larson Bros, which in my mind would make a Martin connection unlikely, but.....

    The pickguard is "somewhat" Dyer shaped, but like everyone has noted, it could be an afterthought....

  22. #22
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    Default Re: 1924 Martin Pickguard

    For the record, the following is from "Martin Guitars: A Technical Reference" by Johnston, Boak, and Longworth:

    "A List of All Known Companies"

    " . . . This list of special-brand customers is complete as far as Martin's written records are concerned, and it is doubtful that the company made instruments under any names other than those listed here."

    The list: Bacon, Belltone, Vahdah Olcott-Bickford, Bitting Special, Briggs Special, Bruno [1838], Cable Piano Company, Chicago Musical Instrument Company, Oliver Ditson, Carl Fischer, William Foden, Grinnell Brothers, J.A. Handley, Jenkins, Kealakai, Montgomery Ward [1932], Paramount, Rolando, Rudick's, Schownberg, H & A Selmer, Inc., William J. Smith, Southern California Music Company, Stetson: "Three guitars were made under this label for W.J. Dyer & Bro., St. Paul, Minnesota, in 1922.", S. S. Stewart, John Wanamaker, H.A. Weymann & Son, Wolverine, Rudolph Wurlitzer.

    Note that the only documented instruments made specifically for Dyer were three guitars, labelled "Stetson," in 1922.

    Any other instruments purchased from Martin by Dyer for retail sale would have been standard models with standard appointments. Like some other dealers, Dyer may have fixed their own paper labels on some of the instruments, but the instruments would have been no different than those found in any other store.

    Mike Longworth devoted many years of his life to this project, and dug through every box and cubbyhole on the Martin property. Let's give the man a little credit.
    Last edited by rcc56; Nov-24-2019 at 7:29pm.

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  24. #23
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1924 Martin Pickguard

    OK, before everyone gets twisted here on the Dyer issue, below you will find a 1921 Martin Style A headstock that was on a mandolin I owned. Note that Martin had not yet started putting the decal on the front. They did stamp the rear of the headstock. Dyer obviously bought from Martin. The Dyer sticker was probably added by them, assuming it's there. It's no different than any other instrument made for the trade. That shouldn't even enter the equation. The question is still is this pickguard original and my answer is still no.
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    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Default Re: 1924 Martin Pickguard

    I've seen unlabeled employee-made Martins with all kinds of odd combinations of appointments. I've seen a Martin style E with doubled abalone purfling. I've seen a Stetson guitar. I've seen Ditson labels on all kinds of things, a Stahl stamp on a Stewart Thoroughbred banjo, a Vega cylinder-top guitar, a Gibson double neck acoustic Hawaiian guitar, and what was probably Orville Gibson's last mandolin.

    But I ain't never seen a pickguard like that on a Martin mandolin.
    If it came out of the factory, it was installed on Christmas Eve after the "special" egg nog came out.

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