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bob gill <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Thu, 7 Mar 1996 21:29:33 -0500
text/plain (31 lines)
  I came across this in the March 1996 issue of Guitar Player magazine, and
thought it would be interesting to folks on this forum. Accompanying a photo
of a somewhat beat-up old guitar was the following short item:

  "During the 1800s, small-body guitars like this Martin were called parlor
guitars. However, the wear and tear on the face of this instrument suggests
that it wasn't strummed lightly by some dandy in the comfort of a lavishly
appointed sitting room. This Martin traveled from St. Louis, Missouri, to
Northern California, and then was carried across the Panama Canal en route
to New York City by none ther than Mark Twain.
  "Mr. Clemens obviously was a man of taste, as he chose one of the finest
guitars available at the time. His guitar was built sometime in the 1840s by
Christian Friedrich Martin, Sr., the man who started the Martin company.
Twain must have bought the guitar second-hand to provide himself with
entertainment before leaving on his journey to Angels Camp, California, in
1860, where he settled for several years at the cabin pictured in the
background. [Several details wrong in this sentence, but then, it's a guitar
magazine, not a Mark Twain magazine.]
  "Twain owned this guitar until his death in 1910, yet most historians are
unaware that he was a guitarist. His use of this instrument during his
travels shows that as far back as the 1860s the guitar was an important
facet of America's cultural experience."

  I was impressed by this little note, because I'd never heard of Twain
playing a guitar. I know he liked to sing spirituals and accompany himself
on the piano, but this was something new to me. Maybe it will be to some of
you, too.

Bob Gill
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