This is one of the early Ditson guitars made by Martin for Charles H. Ditson & Co. of New York, in fact it is the first Ditson style 33 made.
Ditson guitars are characterized by a wide waist as they were meant to be in the Hawaiian style and so the narrower waist of guitars meant for Spanish playing was not needed. Ditson had their own model numbering system for identifying grade and size. Ditson had three grades 1, 2 and 3 with grade 1 being the plainest and grade 3 the fanciest. All three grades had mahogany back and sides and a spruce top. The size of the guitar was indicated by the number of grade numbers employed. For example, a Ditson model 1 was the smallest (also known as "standard size"), while a Ditson model 11 was mid-sized (also known as "concert size") and a Ditson model 111 was a large guitar, the well known Ditson Dreadnought. A Ditson model 1 was roughly equivalent to a size 1 Martin and a Ditson model 11 was roughly equal to a size 0 Martin.
A total of 34 Ditson model 33 guitars were made between 1916 and 1920. No Ditson 333 Dreadnought guitars were ever made.
Serial number 20 was shipped to Charles H. Ditson & Co. on May 12, 1916.
The purfling of this guitar consists black and white celluloid lines and the binding is also white celluloid,
The sound hole decoration has only one ring consisting of black and white lines of celluloid rather the three ring decoration of other Martin guitars.
Ditson guitars were not equipped with a Martin pyramid bridge but received a Chicago-style bridge with truncated pyramids at the ends. It is not known why this type of bridge was used but Martin did purchase them for use on Ditson guitars.
The Ditson style 3 guitars were the fanciest models and had the most pearl inlay. The early Ditson style 3 guitars had fancier inlays compared to the later versions, as can be seen in the illustration of a page form the 1922 Ditson catalogue. Martin did not purchase these special inlays so they must have been supplied by Ditson but whether they were supplied as part of a complete fingerboard is not known.
The tuners are Dinsmore & Jager (D & J) #9 machines with white celluloid buttons.
Photos courtesy of Chris Andrada