Vintage Epiphone Musical Instruments
Vintage Epiphone Musical Instruments are instruments manufactured by the American company Epiphone.
Brief history and description
The Epiphone Company was founded in 1873 by Anastasios Stathopoulos, the son of a Greek timber merchant, who was known for building traditional Greek lioutos, lutes and violins. After moving to America in 1903, Stathopoulos started building and selling his own instruments in New York, and soon his son, Epaminondas (also known as "Epi) took over the family business at the age of 22. Soon after that, "Epi" changed the name of the business from "House Of Stathopoulo" to "Epiphone," a title which combined both his nickname and the Greek word for "sound."
In 1924 Epiphone released a Recording Series of banjos, and in 1928 he introduced a Recording series of guitars as well. By the 1930s Epiphone guitars were considered to be some of the best in the world, and Epiphone soon introduced the Electar Series (or Electraphone) in 1935. By 1937, the company sales had nearly doubled.
After "Epi's" death, his two younger brothers, Orphie and Frixo, took over the company; however, due to conflicts between both brothers the company was then sold to Gibson's general manager, Ted McCarty, in May of 1957. Soon after, a series of Gibson-made Epiphones were distributed and the company's headquarters was relocated to Kalamazoo, Michigan; (also the same city as Gibson's headquarters).
Epiphone instruments that were built before 1937 are typically very high quality and much more rare than models built in later years. The most "collectable" models are usually made between the years of 1937 to 1956, and those with the best reputation amongst collectors include the Emperor, Triumph, Broadway and DeLuxe. Also, New York electric archtop Epiphones are considered to be worth less than Gibsons that were built during the same time period.
Vintage Epiphone instrument collectors also tend to be most interested in Gibson Epiphones with New York pickups, as well as the Emperor (as there were only 66 made), the Sheraton (with a blonde finish), and The Casino (thanks to the fact that this was one of John Lennon's favourite guitars). The 1928 Model 4 Flat Top is considered to be one of the rarest vintage Epiphone instruments, but the House of Stathopoulo Harp Guitar is known to be the rarest in the world.
Vintage acoustic archtop Epiphone guitars tend to be built with high quality and solid woods, while electric archtop Epiphones are made from laminated woods and are usually considered to be "less desirable" and worth much less than fully acoustic archtop models).
One great resource for vintage Epiphone collectors would be none other than Epiphone.com, as well as the American Musical Instrument Society (www.amis.org).
Notable auction sales
An Epiphone FT79 guitar once owned by Jimi Hendrix went to auction at Bonhams in London in December, 2010 sold for $87,000, and Skinner Inc. in Boston sold a 1928 American Arch Top Tenor Banjo for $6,000 in April of 2010.
In 2011, a 1959 electric Epiphone guitar from the Richard Gere Guitar Collection was sold for $7,500 as well as a 1963 Texas-style Epiphone acoustic guitar for $4,750.
Heritage Auctions in Dallas, Texas sold a 1967 Epiphone FT acoustic guitar for $6,250 in October of 2011, and Skinner in Massachusetts sold a 1928 American Arch Top Tenor Epiphone Banjo for $6,000 in April of 2010.
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