Martin Hudson Street Guitar
An Early C.F. Martin Built Hudson Street Viennese Style Guitar
the earliest Viennese influenced Martins had rather small
figure-eight shaped bodies with large upper bouts, the
"Hudson Street label" Martins built later in the
1880's could be
surprisingly large and deep guitars reminiscent of the later
Gibson Nick Lucas. These guitars, like their Viennese
predecessors, had simple ladder bracing.
guitar is typical of what Martin was building in the late 1830's
before leaving New York for Pennsylvania. While most people
associate the Viennese influenced Martins with
Stauffer style headstocks with Vienna gears, many of these
originally had slotted headstocks with machines, some of which
have been improperly replaced due to misunderstanding.
the back and sides appear to be Brazilian rosewood, the back
is in fact a rosewood veneer over spruce. Most early
Martins were built in this fashion, with
the customer's choice of a variety of quality hardwood veneers
over either spruce or mahogany.
Most of the Hudson Street Martins have
a top border of "thumbprint"
inlays as well as the "herringbone" trim that has distinguished
Martins for many years. The inlays may
have been crafted from halves of button blanks from neighboring
lower East Side garment dealers.
1837 Viennese Style Guitar built by C.F. Martin Sr.
with Fulton and Hudson Streets, New York City Label
Alternating green abalone and pearl semi-circles on top border
Fancy pearl "crescent" sound hole inlay
Ivory bridge with pearl pendants
"Ice cream cone" heel with clock key adjustment
Herringbone side trim
Original coffin style case
With accompanying letter dated December 14, 1914 from F.H. Martin
dating the work between 1833 and 1839
Numbered in Script 1176
Purchased from George Gruhn
Illustrated on p. 20 of Washburn & Johnston, "Martin Guitars: An
Illustrated Celebration of America's Premier Guitarmaker"
I've located Hudson Street Martins with similar labels
and the following numbers:
No. 1114 C. F. Martin Museum. Raised ivory fingerboard
& neck, tapered fretboard
No. 1160 Private Collection. Flat ebony fingerboard,
round end fretboard
No. 1168 Sold by Gruhn Guitars, Nashville. Raised
ivory fingerboard, tapered fretboard
No. 1173 Fred Oster, Vintage Instruments, Philadelphia. Flat
ebony fingerboard, round end fretboard
No. 1176 Illustrated above, Raised ebony fingerboard, round end
No. 1188 Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Raised ebony
fingerboard, tapered fretboard
It has been assumed that all of the earliest Martins made
in America were built with the Stauffer Style headstock, and
so the headstock on this guitar was thought to have been replaced.
But we now know of several of the earliest Martins, this being
one, with slotted headstocks designed for gears that appear to be
The near twin to this guitar, widely published, including on the cover
of the "Chinery" book, with photos showing a Stauffer style headstock,
in fact has a contemporary German Stauffer style headstock. While
it would be easy to assume that the previous headstock was a Stauffer
style as well, we now know that the instrument previously had a
slotted style headstock with gears.
We believe this may be an early headstock from France. Martin
was an importer, and also obtained imported tuners from his fellow
German-American contemporaries in New York. This set of tuners are
probably from somewhat later. I haven't removed them yet to
check screw holes for signs of originality or change.
Illustrated in Washburn & Johnston,
"Martin Guitars: An Illustrated Celebration of America's Premier
"Martin ledgers from the
1830's suggest that most of C.F. Sr.'s guitars were small and
plain. The eye catching inlays on this fancy model probably
ensured it's survival, while most of the simple guitars from this
period were discarded long ago."
To See Robert Corwin's Classic Photography of Folk and
Roots Musicians, visit:
For Information on
entire site copyright ©1998 through
2016 Robert Corwin/Photo-Arts. All rights reserved.
Exhibition, Publication, CD's,
Promotion, Web Pages, Tour Books,
to Purchase Photographic
If You Have Questions About An
Early Martin Guitar: