Apr 3, 2014

A Look at the Collectible Guitar Market

In 1933, struggling 22-year-old musician Leonard Slye needed a guitar. He found one at a California pawn shop and paid $30 for it. In 1933, $30 was an average week’s wage, but Slye believed that the guitar—a three-year-old Martin OM-45 deluxe model serial #42125—was worth the price. New Martin OM-45s retailed for $225.

Slye went on to become the famous movie and recording star Roy Rogers, dubbed “King of the Cowboys.” The Martin stayed with him through the 1940s. Although Rogers didn’t know it at the time, the Martin was a rare find; there were only 14 of the OM-45 Deluxe models made, and his guitar was the prototype: #1 in the series.

In 2009, Rogers’s OM-45 was sold by Christie’s for $460,000. A similar 1930 vintage OM-45 (#44999, with an Adirondack spruce back and sides, Brazilian rosewood neck, mahogany fret board with ebony frets, and gold-plated banjo tuners with pearl buttons) will be sold in an auction atGuernsey’s of New York on April 2-3, 2014, titled “The Artistry of the Guitar … A Landmark Collection at Auction.” The starting bid for Guernsey’s 1930 OM-45 guitar is $875,000, and it is estimated that it will bring $1,750,000 to $2,000,000.

If Guernsey’s 1930 OM-45 crosses the $965,000 mark, it will be the highest price ever achieved by a guitar at auction. The $965,000 price was reached just last December (2013) by the Fender Stratocaster owned and played by Bob Dylan at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965. The prior record for a guitar at auction was Eric Clapton’s 1956 Fender Stratocaster, which brought $959,000 in 2004. Read More...

Mar 31, 2014

Hammond Model S Chord Organs: The Non-Musician’s Instrument of Choice

Americans value their leisure time. I know I do; it’s nice to have some time to spend however I see fit. My ancestors (yours, too, I suspect) worked all day and had little time for hobbies and amusements. Now, middle-class families have a wide range of leisure activities that they can engage in.

As the middle class grew in the late 19th and 20th centuries, entertainment technology grew as well. We all love to be entertained, and over the years manufacturers have fed our desire for amusement. From machine-age diversions like mechanical arcade games and player pianos to digital-age gaming consoles and smartphones, our leisure hours have been filled with technology for more than 100 years.

Some technologies (player pianos, for example) took a while to reach their market saturation point. Other technologies—like radio—gained a foothold quickly. Every technology needs an infrastructure to support it, whether retail distribution, phone lines or radio transmitters. Whenever a new entertainment technology was introduced into an existing infrastructure, the possibility of a sales explosion existed. Such was the case with America’s first electric chord organ, the Hammond Model S.

Introduced in 1950, the Model S was designed to have non-musicians “playing lovely organ music within 30 minutes.” The Model S chord organ was laid out in easy-to-navigate divisions: keyboard on the right, chords on the left, and two pedals underneath. Read More...