The Martin is considered to be one of the finest acoustic guitars in the world, a distinction it has held for more than 150 years. Philip Gura chronicles the career of C.F. Martin from his humble start as an importer and repairman of musical instruments in New York City in the 1830s through the founding of C.F. Martin & Company and its move to Nazareth, Pennsylvania. Gura studies the Martin company records dating back to the 1830s: letters, account books, inventories, and other documents. Using this rich archive, he establishes how a German immigrant from Saxony's guild tradition became the finest American guitar maker of his time and created a uniquely American business that successfully eclipsed its competition. As Gura shows, Martin's success was based on his astute navigation of the rapid economic expansion and industrialization of his time. Martin adapted his artisanal craft to modern industrial methods, maintaining quality while meeting increased demand. After Martin's death in 1873, the company continued to grow, and it thrives today.
Philip F. Gura is William S. Newman Distinguished Professor of American Literature and Culture at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he holds appointments in the departments of English and religious studies as well as in the curriculum in American studies. His many books include the award-winning America's Instrument: The Banjo in the Nineteenth Century, also published by The University of North Carolina Press. He is an editor for the Norton Anthology of American Literature.