We have recently unpacked some of 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 5 made in 1907, is right near the very top of Martin’s mandolin line at the time. Hidden on the underside of the top is hand-written, in pencil, "#3662 7/18/1907 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. This mandolin is in marvelous original condition, essentially untouched for 109 years, without an issue of any sort and barely a scratch on it; one would have to call it near-mint. With 34 Brazilian rosewood ribs on its body (better-grade mandolins of this type always had a greater number of ribs), it also has top bindings consisting of alternating parallelograms of mother-of-pearl and genuine tortoise shell; an abalone trimmed soundhole rosette; and a genuine tortoise-shell pickguard inlaid into the top with an abalone floral pattern inlaid into it. The neck is of Spanish cedar, as were all Martin necks in those years (it does have one tiny dent in it), with separate dovetailed peghead; the ebony fingerboard is bound with genuine ivory and inlaid with abalone, in a pattern that would in later years be used on Martin’s Style-45 guitars. The peghead has also got an abalone floral pattern inlaid into it, and the ebony bridge has a genuine ivory cap. The tuning machines have end-grain solid ivory buttons and hand-engraved cover plates, and the tailpiece cover is hand-engraved as well. The words “endangered species” were simply not part of the vocabulary a hundred-plus years ago as they are, quite sensibly, today; this kind of instrument can never be duplicated again. We have acquired a special, brand-new hard shell case for this mandolin. It deserves it. $3495 w/hsc
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