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Elvis' 1st Performance Guitar Brings<br>$180,000 at Atlanta Auction

Release Date: 10/10/95
Source: Press Release

D-18 Martin Guitar Serial no. 80221

The guitar Elvis Presley used to record his first hits was auctioned in Atlanta, Georgia on October 5th for the sum of $180,000. The instrument was purchased by an antiques dealer and collector from London.

Elvis played his 1942 Martin D-18 (Serial #80221) acoustic guitar exclusively between 1954 and 1956, and used it for his "Sun Sessions" recordings produced by Sam Phillips and his first major concerts.

Until recently, the guitar and a photograph showing Elvis playing on stage, were hung in the north wing of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, which considered the instrument "one of the most significant items" that they had on exhibit.

According to Jim Jaworowitz, memorabilia consultant to Graceland and Christie's, the Martin is the only guitar that Elvis' played that is not currently owned by Graceland. "I believe that it is one of the most valuable guitars that has been placed on the market," said Jaworowitz.

Many photographs show Elvis with the guitar. Originally, stick-on block letters spelled "E-L-V-I-S" along the bottom left bout of the Martin, but the "S" has since been lost leaving "E-L-V-I".

Elvis recorded most of his early hits on the Martin, including "That's All Right" and "Blue Moon of Kentucky". The guitar was sold in 1956 to a neighbor and fan of Elvis's who owned it for the past 35 years. At that point the guitar was purchased by Bob Brown, owner of the Red Baron's auction house in Atlanta, Georgia.

Red Baron's Antiques displayed the instrument in Turner Broadcasting's CNN Center together with an array of Martin artifacts, old photographs, and some of the old forms and tools that no doubt were a part of the guitars handwork nearly fifty years ago. Red Baron's also organized and conducted the guitar auction.


The D-18 "C. F. MARTIN" guitar, Serial No. 80221, has been reported to be Elvis Presley's first guitar. This particular instrument was handcrafted in the Martin guitar factory, which was at that time located at 10 West North Street in Nazareth, Pennsylvania. January 15, 1942 is considered to be the birthday of this guitar, the date the serial number was stamped into the neck block. It was made under the Martin shop order No. 592 of that year. Martin made approximately 326 style D-18 guitars during that year. Production was quite low due to the war time restrictions.

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