Philadelphia, PA—Freeman's November 20 Musical Instruments sale included a guitar that's story is as captivating as the work of art itself. On its own, the circa 1880 C.F. Martin 0-40 guitar is a thing of beauty. Handsomely crafted, and with a sound that belies its age, the guitar also had a unique tale to tell. From 1966-1968, this Martin traveled with legendary folk singer Joan Baez as she used it in performances and recordings across the globe. The instrument drew interest from collectors and musicians alike, but in the end it was C.F. Martin & Co that won the lot for The Martin Guitar Museum. After a more than a century of travels and adventures, this special guitar is headed home.
Built in c.1880 by C.F. Martin & Co in Nazareth, Pennsylvania, the style 40 model was just below Martin’s top of the line Style 42. The guitar's life is a mystery up to 1966, when it was acquired by Joan Saxe, a student at U.C. Berkeley. Shortly after acquiring her new guitar, Saxe met Joan Baez. When Saxe noticed a bit of a string rattle in her 0-40, she asked Joan Baez to take a look to see if she could find a solution. As Saxe later recalled the encounter, “I wish I had a photo of the expression on her face when she started playing it. She was mesmerized.” Baez played the guitar and fell in love. The next day she came back and asked if the two could trade guitars, with assurances to Saxe that if she had misgivings the trade could be reversed.
Over the course of the next three years, Joan Baez traveled and recorded with the Martin 0-40. The instrument is prominently pictured on album covers such as the Japanese release of “David’s Album,” and press photos. It was also featured on extended play recordings released in conjunction with concerts in Japan, France, Spain and Italy. Despite its age and seeming delicacy, the Martin 0-40 toured the world and accompanied Baez’s commanding vocal presence throughout the next three years. In 1968 Baez returned the guitar to its former owner, who brought it to Freeman's for their inaugural sale of Musical Instruments.
One hundred and thirty odd years after it was crafted, this very special guitar has made its way home to C.F. Martin & Co. The Martin Guitar Museum is dedicated to the preservation of the company's unique musical heritage. Martin guitars, like the 0- 40 sold at Freeman's November auction, have long been beloved of icons of American music from Johnny Cash to John Mayer. The lot, which brought $12,500 in the sale, included a letter of authenticity from Baez, in which the legend wrote " I have owned and played numerous guitars throughout my career, and many of them have been and still are C.F. Martin instruments. From the very first moment I played it, this beautifully crafted guitar impressed me with its stunning tone and resonance. I loved my time with this gorgeous instrument, and I am sure that it will bring you many years of similar joy." Also included were a signed photo of Baez playing the 0-40 by Jim Marshall, a hand-written set list, as well as album covers featuring the artist with the guitar. After touring the world and being part of one of the most exciting periods of American music and history, this well-loved guitar now returns to its roots, ensuring its legacy will live on.
As America’s oldest auction house, Freeman's has been a constant throughout the auction world for seven generations. Founded in 1805 by Tristram Bampfylde Freeman, the company’s traditions of excellence have benefited many new generations of private collectors, institutions, estates, and museums. Freeman’s holds more than 25 auctions a year in the following categories: American Art & Pennsylvania Impressionists; American Furniture, Folk & Decorative Arts including 20th Century Design; Asian Arts; Books, Maps & Manuscripts; English & Continental Furniture & Decorative Arts; European Art & Old Masters; Jewelry& Watches; Modern & Contemporary Art; Musical Instruments; and Silver & Objets de Vertu. Freeman’s marketing alliance with Scotland’s Lyon & Turnbull—Scotland’s oldest auction house—has extended Freeman’s international reach. Additionally, Freeman’s offers Trusts & Estates and Museum Services. For more information, visit: www.freemansauction.com.
Included in the Lot: Signed and matted
Photo by Jim Marshall of Joan Baez,
1968, playing the Martin 0-40 guitar.
C. F. Martin Guitar, Style 0-40,
c.1880, used in performances and recordings
by Joan Baez 1966-68. Sold for $12,500.