1896 “Orange Top” Martin 0-28 Guitar

This guitar is interesting for a couple of reasons.

First, it is dated "April 7, 1896" under the top and is signed "FHM" (Frank Henry Martin). This is not unusual since most Martin guitars were dated from about 1885 and most were signed from around 1894 to 1916. However, Martin guitars from 1894 to 1896 are relatively scarce as the economy was still recovering from the Panic of 1893 and, as a result, the sales of musical instruments were much lower.

Secondly, it has a nice "orange" finish that Martin accomplished by using unbleached instead of bleached shellac.

The tuners are Seidel machines typical of the period but are made of brass, which is unusual since style 28 guitars were normally fitted with German silver machines. Martin had less than a dozen German silver Seidel tuners in inventory on January 1, 1896. Maybe the stock was depleted when this guitar was made and they had to resort to brass tuners. Martin imported Seidel tuners from Germany so an expected shipment might have been delayed in shipping or at customs.

The case label is a bit of a conundrum. This type of label was used by Martin from 1889 to 1893. Martin employed a label printed in blue from 1895 to 1898. Maybe it is just a left-over label or possibly the case is not original to the guitar.


(not the same label as the photo above)

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