Martin Guitars

1888 Martin 2-1/2-40, Dated May 1888

This guitar is a great example of an early high-grade Martin guitar. Styles 40 and 42 were the two fanciest grades of Martin at the time with style 40 being slightly commoner than style 42. The main difference between stlye 40 and 42 is that on style 42 the abalone purfling extended around the fingerboard extension while on style 40 it did not. Originally, style 42 guitars were meant to have had adjustable necks and a recess in the top, surrounded by the abalone purfling, would accept the fingerboard extension as the neck angle was adjusted. The adjustable neck idea didn't survive but the abalone purfling around the fingerboard extension did. styles 27, 30, 34, 40 and 42 also had an abalone decorated sound hole ring.

Many of the early style 40 and 42 guitars came in size 2 and 2-1/2 as they were "ladies'" instruments meant for use in the parlor.

The ivory bridge was reserved for Martin's fanciest models; styles 34, 40 and 42. The body and neck also received ivory binding.

The tuners are fancy Seidel tuners with a German silver base plate and mother-of-pearl buttons.

The end decoration is a little unusual in that it is a rectangle of ivory. Most later versions have a trapezoidal (wedge-shaped) ivory decoration.

The back stripe is a beautiful "arrowhead" purfling. These back stripes can be variable in the style of purfling used during the 19th centory.

The coffin case is what Martin called a "very fine" case with bolster to support the waist of the guitar and upgraded hardware.

The underside of the top is dated "5/1888" in blue crayon.

The case label is dstinctive and has only been seen in the cases of guitars dated in 1888 and 1889.

Photos courtesy of The Music Emporium












One thought on “1888 Martin 2-1/2-40, Dated May 1888

  1. Beautiful Guitar! I especially like the pearl tuner buttons. In my collecting over the years, I have bought a number of later 1800’s guitars that came with the MOP Button option, rather than the Ivory. Those Seidel plates are gorgeous!

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