Christian Frederick Martin (Markneukirchen, Saxony 1796–1873 Nazareth, Pennsylvania)
ca. 1838
New York, New York, United States
Wood, maple, spruce, abalone, ebony, metal, brass, ivory
Height: 36 13/16 in. (93.5 cm)
Width: 11 11/16 in. (29.7 cm)
Depth: 3 1/4 in. (8.3 cm)
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1979
Accession Number:
1979.380a, b
Not on view
Christian Frederick Martin was born in Markneukirchen, Saxony, Germany in 1796. He is known to have studied guitar building in Vienna, working for Karl Kuhle, whose daughter Otillia Kuhle Martin would marry. Martin also claimed to have worked in the shop of Johann George Stauffer whose designs he closely followed in examples such as this instrument. Such features as the scroll-shaped headstock and metal machine tuners, the body outline, and the pin bridge, were all based on the Stauffer design. In 1833, Martin immigrated to New York City where he opened a music store and built guitars, like this one, based on the Viennese style guitars he had learned to build in Germany.

Within a few years, Martin would design a distinctly American form of the guitar that would shape all subsequent acoustic guitar making in the United States. His company, C. F. Martin & Co., would become one of the most influential musical instrument companies in the world and continues manufacturing acoustic guitars in Nazareth, Pennsylvania.
Length of fingerboard, nut to base: 17 1/8 in. (43.4 cm);
Width of fingerboard at base: 1 1/8 in. (2.8 cm);
Length of body: 17 1/4 in. (43.7 cm);
Wdith of upper bouts: 9 in. (23 cm);
Width of middle bouts: 6 7/8 in. (17.6 cm)
Width of lower bouts: 11 3/4 in. (29.7 cm);
Vibrating length of strings: 23 3/4 in. (60.3 cm);
Diameter of soundhole: 3 in. (7.7 cm);
Length of case: 37 7/8 in. (96.2 cm);
Depth of case: 4 5/8 in. (11.6 cm)
Width of case (at widest point): 13 1/2 in. (34.3 cm)
Marking: 1. (stamped on back near heel) C.F. Martin/New-York
2. (Engraved label in body) C.F. Martin/manufacturer of [lyre] importer of / guitars & violins [lyre] musical instruments / wholesale & retail / No. 212 Fulton St. above Greenwich No. 196 Hudson Str [last addresss in ink MS] / Instruments of every description New York neatly repaired. Piano Fortes tuned & c./...Harris[on] Scl NY / No. 1188. [last number in ink MS]
Our Tuneful Heritage: American Musical Instruments from The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Exhibition catalogue., Brigham Young University. Provo, Utah, 1994, pg. 61, fig. 16, ill.

A Checklist of American Musical Instruments. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1989, pg. 26.

"Notable Acquisitions 1979-1980: Musical Instruments." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin (1980), pg. 39, ill.