This is a very rare guitar made by Martin for Wanamaker's Department Store, which had branches in Philadelphia and New York.
The Wanamaker store in Philadelphia started buying instruments from Martin in 1904. From 1907 to 1910 some guitars were also purchased for the New York branch. Wanamaker continued to buy Martin guitars, mandolins and ukuleles until 1939, mostly for the Philadelphia store although a few were occasionally shipped to the New York store.
On December 18, 1909 ordered a number of special guitars and mandolins for both their Philadelphia and New York stores. Another smaller order was placed on May 20, 1910 for the New York store. The two tables below show all the special guitars and mandolins ordered.
The “ladies” size guitar were probably size 2½ while “small” size were size 2. “Normal” referred to size 1 and “concert” to size 0.
The instruments had no Martin markings but received a Wanamaker stamp, of which two varieties are known. The TYPE 1 stamp was used at the Philadelphia store and the TYPE 2 stamp at the New York store. The guitars, and probably the mandolins, did not receive serial numbers.
Type 1 Type 2
This guitar has a mahogany body and was probably meant to be size 2 although several dimensions are slightly smaller than would normally be expected. There were only two Wanamaker Style F guitars made, one each for the two branches.
It will be noted is slightly different from a normal Martin guitar as it has a "Chicago" style pyramid bridge and a single ring rosette.
Since it has the type 1 Wanamaker hand stamp on the neck block, it must be the style F shipped to the Philadelphia store on December 18, 1909.
The wholesale price of the style F guitar was $7.50. The closest Martin equivalent at the time was a style 1-17, which had a wholesale price of $10.00. Martin didn't make a 2-17 at the time so made an adjustment in the price to $7.50.
Wanamaker Style F features:
Back and sides: Mahogany
Top: Red (Adirondack) spruce
Back stripe: None
Other period features:
Ebony "Chicago style" pyramid bridge
Dot fingerboard inlays
No C. F. Martin stamp on back of head stock
No style stamp
String it up. When I went to college in Easton, Pa. one of my fraternity brothers had a similar guitar but with the Martin label. It was dated to around 1900 and had the sweetest tone of any guitar I knew prior to that. I loved to practice on it because the finger board felt just right. I also remember that it had a mahogany back and side. Do not underestimate the sound of these smaller guitars. They are wonderful instruments and someday I hope to find one so I can play it and remember that small size old Martin I played back in the early 60s that blew me away!