1855-1860 Martin “transitional”1-21. A very rare and exquisite large size Martin from the pre-1867 era. “Large size” Martin from the 1850’s, because the Size 1, and 0, were the only “large” size Martins in those years. And there is currently not a single other size 1 or 0 size pre-1867 Martin guitar on the market.

This is considered by the top U.S. experts who vetted this instrument as an early, rare “transitional” 1-21, based on the fact that it does not have all the later, standardized, 1860’s and on “21” attributes– specifically, backstrip and endwedge on this instrument are not typical of “price-list” era 21’s (after the publishing of the first Martin price lists, establishing features of the different models, in the 1860’s)

This 1-21 has:

  • Diamond marquetry backstrip (not found on later, 1860’s 1-21s)
  • Marquetry endwedge (not found on later, 1860’s 1-21s) (Wood end wedge and herringbone backstrip were the standard features of the 1860’s and after 1-21’s)
  • X-braced. All braces are 100% original. No internal repairs to braces.
  • Slot head
  • Ebonized neck (maple neck, ebonized, i.e. painted black). This is another transitional feature: black neck was replaced by cedar on Style 21 by the time the Martin price list was first printed.
  • Single “tone bar” brace behind the bridge plate
  • Ice cream cone-shaped heel (1860’s 1-21’s had cedar neck, with Spanish style heel not ice cream cone heel)
  • Three “CF Martin New-York” stamps: one inside center strip; the second on neck block (this stamp is upside down, as it should be); the third on back of guitar (near heel), the third stamp transversing the backstrip on the back of the guitar near the heel.
  • Solid Brazilian Rosewood back and sides
  • All original finish, everywhere; no touch-ups, overspray, etc, of any kind ever done
  • Brazilian rosewood back shows beautiful sawmarks
  • Bridge, more than a century old, is probably a replacement bridge… but on the original bridge footprint
  • Original ivory nut
  • Original bridge plate (mahogany)
  • No back cracks, or side cracks; one top crack, repaired
  • Tuners are modern replacements, vintage style, in original slot holes
  • Original frets

This instrument plays beautifully, with a richness of bass especially that is remarkable for a 19th century Martin. Action is perfect. Ready to play and enjoy, as one of the few examples of a large pre-1867 Martin– and with rare features that make it highly collectible.