Here is an interesting ca. 1870 Tilton Model 1 (Serial Number 2165). The silver medallion in the sound hole indicates the guitar was made by Zogbaum & Fairchild of New York.
William Tilton began manufacturing guitars in New York in 1853. Tilton had two guitar patents (U.S. Patent #10380, January 3, 1854, and U.S. Patent #14378, March 4, 1856) and used these to manufacture his own brand of guitars and while also retrofitting other guitars with his "improvements".
Ferdinand Zogbaum and Rufus Fairchild established a manufacturing and importing company in Charleston, South Carolina in 1845. By 1853, Zogbaum & Fairchild had relocated to No. 10 Maiden Lane in New York City. Around 1865, Zogbaum & Fairchild acquired the rights to manufacture guitars using Tilton’s improvements.
This vignette has not been exhaustively researched, any corrections or further information would be appreciated. Regardless, the guitar appears to be in remarkable condition
A wonderful photograph of a group of Black Buffalo Soldiers taken at the site of the current Hopkins Marine Station in Pacific Grove, CA around 1900. The middle soldier in the back row is playing a Tilton Improvement guitar.
The Haines & Co. of Boston noted in one of their undated catalogs that "The Genuine Wm. B. Tilton Guitars, are manufactured only by ourselves". It is not known whether Zogbaum & Fairchild continued to manufacture guitars under license or whether the license was cancelled at some point. More research is required to flesh out the story of this guitar.
Some other information can be found at: https://americanhistory.si.edu/collections/search/object/nmah_605751
Photos courtesy of Roger Kern