1899 “Orange Top” Martin 1-21 Guitar (Serial Number 8358)

This guitar is a "orange" top Martin 1-21 guitar from 1899. It is signed "H.A.V." and dated "Jan. 16, 1899". "H.A.V." was  H. Alvin Voigt who worked for Martin from 1892 to 1901.

The "orange" top finish is a result of Martin using unbleached shellac instead of bleached shellac.

The guitar was stamped on January 12, 1899 and was shipped to W. W. Pickerill in Tacoma WA on February 18, 1899.

The back of the headstock has an unusual single-line "MARTIN" stamp. So far this stamp has only been seen on some guitars and mandolins from 1899.


2 thoughts on “1899 “Orange Top” Martin 1-21 Guitar (Serial Number 8358)

  1. The last guitar of 1898 was 8348, the first year when Martin started numbering their guitars. It is obvious that the date was put on during the early construction of the guitar and before glueing the top of the guitar to the rest of the body. I was wondering when did Martin start marking the neck block with the model and number. I assume that this guitar did not have a marked neck block, otherwise you would have taken a photo of this critical aspect of the instrument. The last guitar for 1899 was numbered 8718. That means they made 368 guitars or similar instruments in the year of 1899. I wonder how many luthiers were employed during that year?

    How wonderful to know who actually made your guitar! This to me makes this guitar a really special one.

    1. The earliest “model and size” stamp I have seen was put on a batch of OM-18P guitars that were stamped October 6, 1930.

      On guitars from the 1898 to 1900 period Martin also sometimes stamped the top of the headstock with the serial number.

      Martin had sixteen employees in 1899 but I think two or three were employed making wood cases. A few years later in 1912 the factory only had 6 or 7 workers. At this point Martin was buying leather or duck(canvas) cases.

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