• Country Music Sale auction at Christies

    Sale 2276

    Country Music Sale

    3 December 2009, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 40



    Price Realised  


    The headstock bearing the logo C.F. Martin & Co. EST. 1833, stamped internally C.F. MARTIN & CO NAZARETH, PA., the neck block stamped D-18 98611, length of back: 19 15/16 in. (50.6 cm) with case (3)

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    It is traditionally said that the first owner of this 1947 Martin D-18 was Hank Williams prior to his arrival in Shreveport, Louisiana and for a period while performing on KWKH's Louisiana Hayride in 1948. Mrs. Morelle Williams Henry was present when her father Curly Williams of the Georgia Peach Pickers traded a guitar he owned for Hank Williams' D-18. Curly Williams would go on to perform with the guitar and it remained in his possession until his passing in 1970 when it passed to his daughter.
    Unique to this D-18 is the strongly pattern 'bear claw' present in the spruce top as well as the strong longitudinal striations between the winter and summer growth rings. Two images exist that clearly place this guitar with Hank Williams and his band circa 1947 and 1948.

    A photograph dated Hank Williams Shreveport La 1948 by Langston McEachern showing Williams in the KWKH studios playing lot 40.

    A photograph of Hank Williams and band including his wife Audrey showing lot 40.

    According to records of the C.F. Martin Company this guitar, bearing the serial number 98611, was one of a batch of twenty-five D-18s on which production began on January 30, 1947. They included serial numbers 98600 through 98624.
    The Martin Company records confirm that a D-18 was shipped to Arts Music in Montgomery, Alabama on March 17, 1947 and Williams is known to have done business with Art's Music.

    Sold with a letter, signed by Mrs. Morelle Williams Henry, relating to her and her father's association with Hank Williams and the history of the guitar. Notarized and dated May 26, 2009.

    Pre-Lot Text

    Born Hiram Williams in Mount Olive, Alabama, Hank Williams is one of the most influential singer-songwriters of the 20th century. He was plagued by a life of physical pain, a result of a spinal deformity. As Colin Escott wrote "Williams is the standard by which success is measured in country music on every level, even self destruction. He established the agenda for contemporary country songcraft". By the mid-1930s Williams's music career was well on track and by 1938 he had formed the first of his Drifting Cowboys bands. Williams experienced great success following the war only to be obstructed by his heavy drinking, relocating him from Montgomery in August 1948 when he became a member of the Louisiana Hayride, a fairly new radio jamboree. In June 1949 Williams moved to Nashville and quickly became one of country music's biggest stars. Williams's career reached its peak in 1950 and 1951. Each of his records found a place on the charts, except for the religious duets he recorded with his wife, Audrey Mae Sheppard and those recorded under his pseudonym, Luke the Drifter. He was also the most successful touring acts in country music. By 1952, however, Williams had succumbed to alcohol and prescription drug addiction and died in the back seat of his chauffered Cadillac sometime between December 30 and early January 1, 1953.