Sotheby's Australia
84

A rare Martin 2-42 Parlour 'Natural' acoustic guitar, circa 1870

Estimate $50,000 - $100,000

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American (New York) made, gloss nitrocellulose finish, solid Adirondack Spruce top, solid Brazilian Rosewood back and sides, mahogany neck with bound ebony fingerboard, 'Style 42' abalone purfling to soundboard, ivory bridge, slotted headstock with Brazilian Rosewood faceplate, hard case with red interior

Accompanied by a letter from Russell Crowe stating his ownership.

Provenance

Mr Russell Crowe, Sydney

Show Catalogue Notes

Catalogue Notes

Since their introduction in 1870, Martin's 'Style 42' instruments have existed as the pinnacle of flattop guitar artistry. This stunning New York-era 2-42 is a perfect demonstration of the style.



This 'Size 2' instrument, while small by today's standards, was the third largest in Martin's line when this guitar was crafted, surpassed only by sizes 1 and 0. Often referred to as a 'parlour' guitar, this label is in reference to the small reception rooms or 'parlours' in which, historically, compact instruments such as the 2-42 were play.



'Style 42' instruments were distinguished by abalone pearl 'purfling,' which is found on all top borders, in the centre ring of the rosette, and most uniquely, surrounding the guitar's fretboard extension. This ornamental detail established a tradition that would become the hallmark of Martin's finest instruments in the coming century.



The parlour's distinctive pyramid bridge, nut, saddle, and bindings have been sculpted from dentine ivory. A back stripe of intricate 'zigzag' marquetry ties together two quarter-sawn wings of precious Brazilian Rosewood to the instruments rear, while to the soundboard we see old-growth Red Spruce, all treated with a fine French polish.



Contrasting the rich pearl ornamentation to the body of the instrument, the fingerboard is crafted of old-growth ebony, presenting without inlays, as was customary at the time. Equally noteworthy is the 'clock-key' neck set mechanism, which was a common detail on early Martins but uncommon by 1870.



This piece displays a dovetail-joined headstock and neck with a 'Diamond' volute. While then an aesthetically pleasing means of resolving a complex timber join on a neck constructed of multiple pieces of Mahogany (a construction method abandoned by the turn of the century favouring single piece necks), the 'Diamond' volute would continue its legacy on many of Martin's most prized Rosewood models as an aesthetic nod to the company's rich heritage.



While the historical significance of the 2-42 cannot be disputed, this example survives as one of a small handful of instruments of which continues to play beautifully. The architecture of the instrument, that is the scalloped X style bracing, is remarkably light. This allows the soundboard to resonate as freely a possible without compromising the guitars structural integrity.



To have on offer an example of such a preciously crafted antique instrument, so rich with heritage, so stunningly ornamented, which retains such a high level of playability, is truly a rare and exciting opportunity.


Matthew Liveriadis

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Russell Crowe: The Art of Divorce

AU0822  | 7 Apr 2018  | Sydney
6 pm


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