Martin (used, 1917) Bitting Special Mandolin

Tag No 59-0728 Used
This item is NOW ON SALE!

#5127, in "very good minus" condition, cosmetically highly attractive and playable in the lower positions, but with an elevated action above the 5th or 6th fret.

It is housed in its (apparently original) end load canvas case that’s in "fair" condition, worn and missing its end flap. 

This Martin mandolin is exceedingly rare.   Here is the History of the Bitting Special mandolin, according to Mike Longworth:  Between 1916 and 1918 C F Martin Company made only 40 of this model, presumably for a teacher named Bitting who was located just an hour and a half ride from the factory by horse, in the little town of Bethlehem, PA.    The specifications for 1917 are that this model’s back and sides are curly maple, finished in a rich, red color, the top is spruce in (yes) a rich brown color; the binding is like that of a Style 2 Uke; there's celluloid (ivoroid) binding on the face with crème-black purfling, the back is bound in single ply celluloid; the heel cap is ivoroid, the nut is ivory, and it is "otherwise like a Martin Style A mandolin."  That there were so few of this model made makes finding another one extremely unlikely.  It is not by any means the rarest Martin instrument - some guitars were made in just single digits or even just one, but as Martin mandolins go – there aren’t many around.  This mandolin bears no ordinary “C F Martin & Co., Nazareth, PA” stamp, no, instead it has a pressure stamp on the back of the headstock and on the interior back brace that reads “Bitting Special made by C F Martin & Co.” 

One of the instrument's prior owners wrote the name Tom Amico on the canvas case 6 or 7 times.  Where is he now, we wonder – Tom and his little fountain pen? What this mandolin really needs is a hard shell case.   At this time there is a significant neck bow, which is why the action is high.   This is a bar fret instrument and our staff has reset the bar frets that were, when this came in, loose and uneven, and they reglued the base of the fingerboard to the face.  The center seam is open slightly on the back and cannot be glued because it is directly under the back brace.   There appears to be some lacquer spray touch-up on the back of the neck.  

The bridge, for decades, resided 1/8” forward of the position that allows correct intonation.  We have reset the bridge to its proper position but there is a scuff mark in the finish in front of the bridge (its old position).  There is oxidation on the scalloped tailpiece cover at bottom whose metal (on the slide-on cover only) is showing metal fatigue at the edges. The mandolin shows normal signs of use and wear, very light scratches on the face, normal dings, scuffs, chips and nicks here and there.   It has an ivory nut, grained ivoroid top and back binding and tuner buttons two-ply top purfling inside the ivoroid.  The fingerboard and bridge are ebony - the fingerboard is inlaid with 4 small ivoroid dots.   The headstock overlay is Brazilian rosewood; the oval soundhole is bordered in 9 plies of light and dark purfling; the tortoise shell celluloid pickguard is teardrop shaped.

We have to say that, since it has gotten its professional set up at the hands of our trained luthiers, its sound is just wonderful – it produces a dulcet vocalization unheard in other Martin A-style mandolins.  This is probably because the back and sides are maple and not mahogany. 

What this mandolin might benefit from, in the near term, is a “heat treatment” – which is not something we do here but lots of repairpersons can do it.  This would hopefully straighten the neck and make it considerably more playable.   The end result would be a delightful and fine sounding mandolin.   If a heat treatment were performed and a hard shell case purchased for it, in our opinion it could have a market value that is considerably greater than the price we’re selling it for.   Right now, in ‘as is’ (not friendly to the fingers above the 5th fret) condition it is most affordable.   THIS IS NOW ON SALE!   IT WAS $1,083.

Our SALE Discount Price is $717.00 and Our SALE Cash Discount Price is $695.00.

Sorry, this item has been sold.
You may still add it to your want list, and we will contact you if your desired instrument comes in!

Additional Photos (click for expanded view)

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