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Thread: Pearl top Martin

  1. #1
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    Default Pearl top Martin

    The Music Emporium has a 1919 Martin style C with a pearl bordered top.
    It's been there for a long time, and the have reduced the price to $1500.
    There weren't a lot of these made, and this one's in reasonably good shape, especially considering its age.
    NFI

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  3. #2
    Full Grown and Cussin' brunello97's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pearl top Martin

    Here it is for posteriority. And the link to the sale.

    Rosewood back looks very nice. A lot of mandolin at that price.

    Mick
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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pearl top Martin

    That would be a nice mandolin to own. Too bad about the owie on the bass side but that's really pretty.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  5. #4
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pearl top Martin

    Per Longworth's book, Martin made 394 Style C's between 1914 and 1934 (the last one in maple). Rara avis indeed.
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  6. #5
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    Default Re: Pearl top Martin

    Less than half of the 394 had the pearl border. More have multicolored wood purfling.
    The pearl border only appears between sometime in 1917 or 1918, and returns to multicolor wood purfling sometime in 1921.
    Nobody knows the exact number made with the pearl border, but it was no more than 160. My guess is the total was probably closer to 125.

    We don't see many of these.
    Last edited by rcc56; Jun-06-2020 at 3:42pm.

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  8. #6
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    Default Re: Pearl top Martin

    Was going to buy this mandolin a year or so ago, but the seam separation between the bridge and sound hole didn't suit me for the amount of coin. This may be common thing with bent tops, and maybe kind of like a guitar pick guard crack. Besides, I like a narrower neck and tang frets, even tho it' a most lovely looking thing.

  9. #7
    Registered User Steve 2E's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pearl top Martin

    I see the bass side owie that Mike E mentions, but I’m not seeing any seam separations. Please let me know if I’m overlooking something.

  10. #8
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    Default Re: Pearl top Martin

    I hadn't noticed it. Now that it's been mentioned, I can see it.

    I didn't see anything until I magnified some of the pictures. It's a very slight separation, maybe an inch long. I would call it a minor consequence-- there are 2 braces under it. An overnight trip to a repairman for a little hide glue, just for the sake of security, will fix it up and it will be good to go for many years.

    I've changed a few of these old Martins over to T frets, and also a few Vega's.
    I've got a technique that works well for the job and has held up over the long term. I'm too lazy to type it out right now, but any interested repairmen are welcome to pm me.
    Last edited by rcc56; Jun-06-2020 at 7:30pm.

  11. #9
    Registered User Steve 2E's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pearl top Martin

    Thanks! I thought I might have seen a little something. I’m not too concerned about the frets, but I’ll let you know.(If I aquire) Any thoughts about the Mike E owie? Did someone mistake this mandolin for an ashtray? How about the bridge?

  12. #10
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    Default Re: Pearl top Martin

    I can't tell for sure.
    It might be a wear spot that picked up some dirt, or a scorch from a cigarette ash.
    Someone liked the instrument well enough that they put it to use.

    The bridge is original. I've made a bridge like that. It's hard to do and takes a long time.

    If you want a closet queen, a really clean style B with a plain border and simple inlays will cost the same amount of money.

  13. #11
    Registered User Steve 2E's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pearl top Martin

    Sorry, I edited late, what do you think about the bridge?

  14. #12
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    Default Re: Pearl top Martin

    I just edited also. See above.

  15. #13
    Registered User Steve 2E's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pearl top Martin

    Thanks! I stumbled across this one back in the fall when I was thinking about getting a Waterloo from TME. Didnít pull the trigger on the Waterloo, but now this Martin is back in my radar!

  16. #14
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    Default Re: Pearl top Martin

    There are a whole lot of things that could have caused that dark spot. If it was heat it probably would have affected the binding too. I suspect something was either dripped on it or it was a reaction to something that laid up against it for a long period of time.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  17. #15
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    Default Re: Pearl top Martin

    There are a couple of tiny nicks in the finish on the edge of that spot. Perhaps something got in there and stained the wood or the varnish.
    We'll never know.

    All in all, it looks pretty good for a 100 year old instrument with a delicate finish.

    I just found out that Olivia de Havilland [Melanie in "Gone With the Wind"] is still alive at the age of 103. She may also have a few marks on her. And she might choose not tell how some of them got there either.

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I just spotted another one at Guitar Center, pearl trimmed. They're calling it 1917 and are asking $1530. It might or might not be in slightly better cosmetic shape. Of course, with Guitar Center, they're probably not up to the task of discerning whether or not it is in reasonably good playing condition [frets, neck angle, etc.]. And I'm not sure they got the date right either. It might have the post 1919 larger body that became what we now consider to be the standard size for Martin mandolins. I hope they have light strings on it.

    And on ebay, there's the 1921 model that was pictured in Gruhn's picture book with the slightly larger body. It's got a long repaired top crack from pickguard to the tail of the instrument, and is priced at $2350. It may be the last one made with pearl trim around the top.

    There's also the one that Bob Page has in the classifieds for $1950, but the top finish looks unusually dark on that one, which makes me wonder if something might have been done to the finish. If not, it's pretty grimy.

    It's unusual to see four of these on the market at the same time. The Music Emporium and the Guitar Center mandolins appear to me to be the best of the four.
    Last edited by rcc56; Jun-06-2020 at 11:32pm.

  18. #16
    Registered User Timbofood's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pearl top Martin

    I like it a lot but, I must restrain myself! Still have to finish the kitchen remodel! Then French doors and bedroom before I start all over again!
    Timothy F. Lewis
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  19. #17
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    Default Re: Pearl top Martin

    Hadn't seen the ad for quite awhile. The price used to be a bit over 2K and I would've happily bought it at the current price. I wonder why it hasn't sold by now...issues, maybe?

  20. #18
    Registered User Steve 2E's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pearl top Martin

    I certainly canít say why it hasnít sold, but for me the more I think about itís just more bling than I really want. I respect the craftsmanship and itís very nice to look at, but at the end of the day I think Iíd rather have a style B. Itís kinda like how Iíve always been happy with 28 series guitars and havenít felt the need to go any higher. It does seem like a good deal on a very nice mandolin though!

  21. #19
    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pearl top Martin

    When you look at the picture of the damaged area that the seller was good enough to provide, it seems obvious to me that the spot was caused by impact to the corner edge of the top, damaging the binding and crushing the corner. Some splinters have been lost from the compacted spruce, and the compromised area has been filled and discolored by body oils and other contaminants over the years. Look at the funky shape of the contour along the line of the top edge, bass side.

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  22. #20

    Default Re: Pearl top Martin

    Quote Originally Posted by DoubleE View Post
    Thanks! I stumbled across this one back in the fall when I was thinking about getting a Waterloo from TME. Didn’t pull the trigger on the Waterloo, but now this Martin is back in my radar!
    To each his own, but for me there wouldn't be much of a contest between a hundred-year old pearl trimmed, Brazilian rosewood Martin and a Waterloo....I'd take the Martin....

    As far as the doink/brown spot goes -- yep, it's not perfect, but a small criticism for a hundred-year old instrument.....actually pretty clean, otherwise.

  23. #21
    Registered User Steve 2E's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pearl top Martin

    Just to clarify, I was never comparing the Waterloo and the Martin. I think they are very different instruments with different qualities and Iíd be happy to own either one. I noticed this Martin on TMEís
    site when I was researching the Waterloo, so I remember seeing it a while back. The price of this Martin is very reasonable and it gave my head a spin, but for now itís not for me.

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  25. #22
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pearl top Martin

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Gunter View Post
    When you look at the picture of the damaged area that the seller was good enough to provide, it seems obvious to me that the spot was caused by impact to the corner edge of the top, damaging the binding and crushing the corner. Some splinters have been lost from the compacted spruce, and the compromised area has been filled and discolored by body oils and other contaminants over the years. Look at the funky shape of the contour along the line of the top edge, bass side.]
    Yup.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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  27. #23
    NY Naturalist BradKlein's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pearl top Martin

    What a lovely instrument.
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