We have recently unpacked the contents of one of our secret closets containing stuff we haven’t looked at in years, some for decades, and come up with several gorgeous Martin round-back mandolins from the turn of the 19th-to-20th century. This particular one, a Style 2 made in 1912, is is a beautiful example of restrained Martin understatement, with touches of ivory and pearl where it counts. Hidden on the underside of the top is hand-written, in pencil, “#3773 12/4/12 FHM” This was done on most Martin instruments made between about 1895 and 1915; “FHM” was Frank Henry Martin, family patriarch running the Martin Company at the time. The mandolin is in marvelous original condition, essentially untouched for 104 years, without an issue of any sort and barely a scratch on it; one would have to call it near-mint. With 26 Brazilian rosewood ribs, or staves, on its body (better-grade mandolins of this type always had a greater number of them), it also has rosewood top bindings with a white holly line beneath them on the sides, a truly nice little touch, and a soundhole rosette inset with multicolored wood marquetry parallelograms, a pattern usually not seen on Martin instruments after the 1870s. The pickguard is of genuine tortoise-shell, inlaid into the top, with a lovely abalone floral pattern inlaid into it. The neck is of Spanish cedar, as were all Martin necks in those years, with separate dovetailed peghead and hand-carved volute later copied on and so symbolic of today's Martin D-28 guitars. The ebony fingerboard is inlaid with abalone, in a style that would in later years be use on Martin’s Style-42 guitars, beautifully done. The bridge is of ebony, topped with an insert of genuine ivory for its saddle. The tuning machines have Ivoroid buttons and beautifully hand-engraved cover plates; the tailpiece cover has been handsomely engraved by the same hand. We have acquired a special, brand-new hard shell case for this mandolin. It deserves it. $1995 w/hsc
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