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Vintage Epiphones , Sorrentino, Howard Roberts Pre-1937

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Hello Everyone,

 

I'm brand new to this forum but have been playing guitar and collecting now for a good while.

I recently acquired this 1934 Sorrentino (Epiphone made) model: Avon

 

Its very similar to the black stone from my research but it has much fancier inlay etc...

 

Just curious to see if anyone else has any other models or more info about these guitars...thanks!

I'm new so im not sure how to post pics as of yet but will figure it out soon...my avatar is the Sorrentino Guitar

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Hi GT, welcome to the forum. I'm not sure if anyone here owns a Sorrentino much less an Avon model, but I have some Epiphone history books and will try to look it up later today. It's hard to see from your Avatar, but it appears to be similar to the Triumph Masterbuilt model shown here:

 

http://www.epiphone.com/thevintagecollection/default.html

 

Here's the tutorial for posting photos: http://forums.epiphone.com/default.aspx?g=posts&t=8886

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I have a Sorrentino Arcadia - cool little guitar from 1935. Sorrentinos are very uncommon - dare I say rare. The was an Artist model on ebay a couple of weeks ago, like a Broadway but with Triumph fret inlays, very nice but a huge crack down the back so I passed. I saw, some years ago, another Arcadia for sale at Vintage Instruments in Philly (I must go there sometime) for $500, listed as needing work. I got mine for $350 (off ebay), and it needed about $150 put into it to make it fully playable. Other than those, I haven't seen any for sale or even on website "museums". There's the dream Sorrentino, the Premier (=Tudor) in the House of Stathopoulo book. Nobody knows how many Sorrentinos were made, but it can't be too many. Despite that, they don't seem to command prices comparable to other old Epi archtops, just not enough of a cult following.

 

Here's a few pics of the Arcadia - the sunburst is a very modest "cremona" brown, not the typical dark sunburst of Epi's of that era, with a nice walnut back. House of Stathopoulo compares it to an Olympic, but it's really more like a Zenith - 14.5 inches across the lower bout, pressed walnut back, carved spruce top - the exact specs of the Zenith of the time (1934-5), when the Olympic was 13.5 inches and mahogany. This guitar is rather thin sounding, but great cutting and ringing treble for leads, that's what it's best for.

 

arcadia1.jpg

 

arcadia2.jpg

 

arcadiafront.jpg

 

arcadiaback.jpg

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I have a Sorrentino Arcadia - cool little guitar from 1935. Sorrentinos are very uncommon - dare I say rare. The was an Artist model on ebay a couple of weeks ago' date=' like a Broadway but with Triumph fret inlays, very nice but a huge crack down the back so I passed. I saw, some years ago, another Arcadia for sale at Vintage Instruments in Philly (I must go there sometime) for $500, listed as needing work. I got mine for $350 (off ebay), and it needed about $150 put into it to make it fully playable. Other than those, I haven't seen any for sale or even on website "museums". There's the dream Sorrentino, the Premier (=Tudor) in the House of Stathopoulo book. Nobody knows how many Sorrentinos were made, but it can't be too many. Despite that, they don't seem to command prices comparable to other old Epi archtops, just not enough of a cult following.

 

Here's a few pics of the Arcadia - the sunburst is a very modest "cremona" brown, not the typical dark sunburst of Epi's of that era, with a nice walnut back. House of Stathopoulo compares it to an Olympic, but it's really more like a Zenith - 14.5 inches across the lower bout, pressed walnut back, carved spruce top - the exact specs of the Zenith of the time (1934-5), when the Olympic was 13.5 inches and mahogany. This guitar is rather thin sounding, but great cutting and ringing treble for leads, that's what it's best for.

 

[img']http://img156.imageshack.us/img156/7229/arcadia1.jpg[/img]

 

arcadia2.jpg

 

arcadiafront.jpg

 

arcadiaback.jpg

 

;) its so pretty

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Thanks everyone for the comments and very nice sorrentino you have! .....I believe your Sorrentino is worth way more then the $350 that you got it for... I was told one similar to yours i believe sold last year at a guitar show in ohio for $850 +++

 

So I've been researching this everywhere and you guys have been extremely helpfull [biggrin] i love the brochure thank you all so much for all your info and help!

I bit the bullet and gave up on the research hunt for value ..even though its priceless to me.....If going by epi serial numbers it looks like less than 800 of these were made in 1934 and a great unreplaceable rarity of epiphone history i decided to call http://www.elderly.com/ and http://www.gruhn.com/

I spoke to Mr George Gruhn and he personally appraised it and wanted to buy it...he seemed a bit taken back that i didnt want to sell it but He gave me some usefull info and an appraisal report..well worth the $50.00 in my opinion and they are very very nice people to work and deal with and seemed very very honest...i was leary at first because they buy guitars too...i contacted elderly guitars and they said theyd give me $450 lol and would sell it for $700ish...which sounded like a load of bs if you ask me ...needless to say i got it appraised elsewhere....below is George Gruhns Report thought everyone would like too see....I still feel this could be worth more imo because Mr Gruhn himself emailed me and wanted to buy it. He told me he had owned 12 of these over 40 years of collecting and he had very little info because they are uncommon and so there isnt a big market for these but are a very nice collectible... there just isnt many out there!!

 

Below is a link of pictures for everyone to see :

 

http://www.guitar-museum.com/guitar-67326-1934-SORRENTINO-AVON

 

and Below is the appraisal:

 

May 29, 2010

 

 

 

I have examined the attached photos of the instrument described below, but have not seen the instrument itself. Below is my estimate, based on these photos, of the instrument’s value; however, it is not possible to judge from photos alone the exact state of originality and need of repair, so my appraisal is only accurate insofar as the photos are representative of the actual condition of the instrument. :::::

 

 

 

The guitar described below is, in our opinion, a Sorrentino Avon model made by Epiphone of New York in the year 1934.

 

 

 

Description: Serial number 7895. Sorrentino brand instruments were made by Epiphone for distribution by the Chicago Musical Instrument company. Sorrentino models typically have a different peghead design than their Epiphone-brand equivalent and are not marked with the Epiphone brand, but do bear Epiphone serial numbers and are very clearly Epiphone in construction. The Avon model is similar to the Epiphone Blackstone model, but features walnut back and sides and somewhat fancier inlay. This instrument features a 15 ¼ inch wide body, carved spruce top with one-piece F-holes, rosewood fingerboard with zigzag-pattern slotted-diamond inlays, Sorrentino and decorative center peghead inlays, open-back Grover tuners, trapeze tailpiece, nickel-plated metal hardware, height-adjustable rosewood bridge, black pickguard, white binding on the top and back edges of the body as well as the fingerboard, sunburst top finish, and walnut-stain finish on the back and sides. We have been told that it has an original hard shell case which is not shown in the attached photos.

 

 

 

Current market value: $2000 (two thousand dollars)

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Great looking guitar, especially the back and sides. Set that baby up and play it. I'm sure far fewer than 800 Sorrentinos were ever made, in all the years of production. The serial numbers, as best anyone knows, are continuous with Epiphone serial numbers. According to Fisch and Fred's "House of Stathopoulo", the most reliable source, serial numbers in the 7000's were made in 1933, so yours would be a very early one, my Arcadia is in the 9000's, so a 1935 guitar. All acoustic guitars made by Epiphone (no matter the brand) would be numbered in the 7000's for 1933 (again, allowing for possible errors not noted by Fisch and Fred), and the vast majority of those would have been Epiphones, very few winding up as Sorrentinos - after all, they'd want to push their own name first.

 

Rare indeed, but rarity does not equal value. As you said, it's priceless to you - that's what it's worth!

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Did you HAVE to tell us how much you paid for it? #-o

 

Now I have to hate you. [angry]

 

 

[thumbup]

 

Nice score guitartradusa

 

Don't be a stranger![biggrin]

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Sweet thanks for helping me figure how to post pics...here you go :-k

 

Interesting...so there could be less than 800 sorrentinos out there total...lol thats friggin awesome...and possibility mine is a 1933 not 34...??sweet....well Gruhn Guitars dated it 1934....

 

I'm very pleased to know more about it...between this forum and gruhn guitars its been a huge help and thanks again to everyone...I hope more pics surface of these Sorrentinos Id love to see more...or even buy or trade for another one or two..or three haha my email is fireblind@aol.com if anyone ever wants to sell/trade theres ;)

 

I'm definately going to play this guitar and set it up professionally soon...I got my old beater acoustics but ill be enjoying this probably till im dead :)

 

 

 

 

60d51f5ee81e22a9284b_1.jpg 60d51f5ee81e22a9284b_2.jpg 60d51f5ee81e22a9284b_3.jpg 60d51f5ee81e22a9284b_4.jpg 60d51f5ee81e22a9284b_6.jpg 60d51f5ee81e22a9284b_8.jpg 60d51f5ee81e22a9284b_11.jpg 60d51f5ee81e22a9284b_13.jpg 60d51f5ee81e22a9284b_20.jpg 60d51f5ee81e22a9284b_23.jpg 60d51f5ee81e22a9284b_24.jpg

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Hello Again everyone...so I hear curiousity killed the cat but today I woke thinking...how can an appraisal be done accurately based on limited information?? Especially on an uncommon instrument being so rare and unreplaceable.... I feel any epiphone, sorrentino or howard roberts model guitars pre-37 are museum worthy instruments....

 

I have no plans on selling this guitar ever and Im extremely thankfull to learn the history about it. Especially from you all I learned more about this instrument then what I recently paid to find out. I just wonder besides Gruhn Guitars if its worth me getting a second appraisal? and if so who do I go too??? Any thoughts or suggestions would be greatly appreciated as well...I emailed the editor for Gibson/epiphone asking them for advice. I wouldve almost rather been told this instrument is too rare to put a value on it ...since none exist to my knowledge than a $2000 price tag.... It is priceless to me and I know thats all that matters at the end of the day but since this is something I plan on leaving my children one day it would be nice to know I went the extra mile for there future...so 20 to 30 yrs from now if they ever decide to sell it, that they know a real value for it as well as all possible information that I gathered for them. From months and months of research I learned so much from this forum alone. I wish I wouldve signed up earlier haha.

Briank was a great help finding what he did and I cant thank you enough for the brochure and info. Teegar I can't thank you enough also his info and the fact he owns a Sorrentino is just awesome. I have only come across info on the Arcadia online and saw maybe 2-4 in existence based on my research. I know his guitar is as rare as mine...

Hopefully others out there in the world have these guitars and can learn from our threads as I learned from you.

Cant wait to see other guitars hopefully pop up on this forum in the future as well [biggrin]

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great photos - great looking guitar, congrats! i love these early epi archtops.

matching epi s/n to years is only approximate since no reliable company records are known to exist for new york epis.

according to fisch/fred's book s/n between 7200 and 8000 were made in 1934 (as gruhn said).

we have 3 pre-ww2 epi archtops in our home: c.1933 olympic, c.1935 blackstone, and c. 1941 triumph.

felix

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Especially from you all I learned more about this instrument then what I recently paid to find out. I just wonder besides Gruhn Guitars if its worth me getting a second appraisal? and if so who do I go too???

 

Most folks get an appraisal from Gruhn because they intend to sell their instrument, and Mr. Gruhn is recognized worldwide as one of the top authorities on vintage instruments, especially acoustics. So if he says it's worth 2 grand, the hopeful seller can put that number out with some confidence.

 

That said, if you peruse Gruhn's website, you'll see a great many guitars that have sat there for years. That it's worth 2 grand doesn't mean you could sell it for 2 grand anytime soon. As always, with "antiques" or other used/vintage items, something is worth what someone eventually pays for it. I also collect old books, and it's the same thing, folks put a price on a book and it sits around - if they can wait to get their investment recouped.

 

So the Gruhn estimate is great for insurance purposes, and a great thing to help someone sell an item, but chasing values can be a fool's errand. I always say it's worth what you would pay for it - it's not worth getting a second appraisal. If you put that baby on ebay (DON'T!!) tomorrow, it would probably fetch 1200 USD. If you plan to keep it, and I guess you do, congratulations, you can't put a price on the endless smiles it will give you :D

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Teegar I agree completely and yea im guilty on being a fool sometimes aren't we all? ...its just for once in my life i feel like a goonie haha and goonies never say die!!...I will put my mind at ease finally I think I got enough input to last me a happy lifetime with this guitar lol

My grandfather always told me if enough people tell you that you look like a horse you better get a saddle haha...but anyways before my last post i also did contact acousticmusic.org from CT. lol..... they happen to have a beautiful sorrentino artist in there museum :D

I came across it online and had to inquire about it. (not for sale :( ...) So I got talking to a gentleman named tripp who was very knowledgeable and friendly. One of the last living relatives to the Epiphone family had contacted him to revise an artical that he had wrote, he shared with me some very very cool Epiphone guitar history. He told me that Original Epiphones are more desired right now but He told me the guitar is rare and prob worth some more than 2k appraisal and mr gruhn likes to keep his guitars for mainly collector purposes and holds them for a very long time but he puts a darn good safe estimate on anything. Hes the best of the best and rightfully so 40 yrs of guitar collecting is more than admirable. I look up to Mr Gruhn and have been reading his books since i was little..hes the reason why I recently got into collecting guitars. I admit I got a little over excited when he mentioned to me that he was interested in my guitar....who wouldn't?? lol However it does deserve to be played and enjoyed and it is priceless to me.

 

Btw this plays sweet and i'm enjoying this guitar :)

I love the tone its just amazing and yes teegar best advice I got was from you im all smiles my friend :)

 

I sent pictures of my guitar along with the original brochure i received on this forum to there website. This way if other guitarists out there have one they can find more info a lot easier than what took me months to find out. I'm going to try and upload the pic from acousticmusic.org soon what a nice Artist model they have. So we all in someway have contributed to getting some more history about Sorrentino's out there for public knowledge....cool stuff

 

Maybe one day I can hunt down and own one of each ....wishfull thinking... mwuahahaha (evil grin) to be continued.....

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Great story ending Guitartrade. For sure I wasn't saying you were foolish, only saying that value is so subjective sometimes - when I say fool's errand I don't mean a fool would do it, just that it can lead in circles and not to a definite and satisfactory outcome. For me the satisfactory outcome is the joy it brings me is well worth the money spent.

 

All this Sorrentino mojo is getting me revved up about them again, starting to wish I'd grabbed that Artist model that was on ebay a few weeks ago. Starting bid of $500, and the auction expired without a bid. It did have a really big, ugly crack down the length of the back however, and would have needed a bunch of structural and cosmetic work, and that always scares me off. OK, the race is on, whoever gets the next one keep us drooling with photos-

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Teegar ....glad your revved up my friend, These guitars are worthy instruments and barely remembered...they should become highly sought after and just as valueable or if not more valueable than the epis since they were epi made and cost more to buy these back in those good ole days.... lol ....if you got $2000-$5000k you can easily score a nice vintage epi from the 30s ....but you cant easily score a sorrentino....I wish i knew about that guitar on ebay i would've taken a chance on it lol oh well

 

good luck in the race...if i come across any pics or locate any others ill be sure to post them....hopefully ill find some i can buy and post my own pics hahaha...to only dream....

 

to be continued....[crying]

 

Btw ...this is the only thing I found lol

 

sorrentinobrochure.jpg

 

Uploaded with ImageShack.us

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I havent read all the posts in this thread fully yet; but as a new member in the meantime I'd like to post some pics of mine.... it is a Howard Luxor. Howard's were made by Epiphone, just like the Sorrentino's. They are pretty much alike the Epi's just a different cosmetic and headstock design. Mine must be the highest end they made, as it bears a 1934 serial number and has gold hardware and a beautiful flame maple back and neck.

 

001221.jpg

 

001224.jpg

 

001227.jpg

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That is absolutely beautiful and it was ojne of their upper line models, and I can't believe how loittle checking you have going on with yours, I see a few familiar names in your list also the 51 broadway and the 53 deluxw were just a couple of ones in my collection at one time, but I was to afraid to play them so I sold them off to folks I knew would appreciate them and the wonderful sound they made, of course I still cry over them, but am fortunate that I can every once in a while visit with them and because they belong to someone else I do get to play with them.Ship

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001227.jpg

 

 

 

Drool' date=' gulp, gasp, omfg, that is one of the most beautiful gits I've ever layed eyes on.

You've just been moved up to number one on my [b']"I hate your guts 'cause your git is prettier than mine"[/b] list.[biggrin]

 

Just kidding really, I am jealous tho. Take good care of her.

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[/]

 

 

 

Hi and Welcome to the forum, that guitar is beautiful...any chance you want to sell it??

If your serial number dates your guitar to 1934 then that is what it is....even top notch guitar appraisers have a very hard time digging info and evaluating these themselves..."because they're not as common as epi's" ....my answer: yea no shiit sherlock which is why they should be worth more because they are technically Epi's and should be considered as such...especially how scarce these are imo....

 

I know how you feel... the good news from many many many days, nights, hours and research and with the great help from some very cool people in this forum, I gained more info on these guitars then what I even paid for ...

 

Epiphone did in fact have the same numerical system pre-35 as the Howard brand and the Sorrentinos...now for more good news....Howard and Sorrentino were sister companies owned by Epiphone in the early 30's obviously they shared the same numerical system to keep track of there inventory....and more good news....sit down for this and make sure you don't fall over lol.....my best educated guess is there were only 400 give or take produced and distributed in 1934 and in 1935....whats even cooler.....no one knows how many are left today....I was only able to track down... 8 Sorrentinos ....3 of which are on this forum...2 of which were supposedly on ebay....(I never could find pics or info to confirm the ebay ads only saw 1 on a pay site that shows the expired ebay listing and the other listing my friend on this forum mentioned he saw) Mr Gruhn told me he had owned a couple of these and sold them over the many years of him collecting...so I count that as two more...and one other in a museum in Hartford Ct.

 

The Sorrentino and Howard brand guitars were distributed by Cmi in chicago (chicago musical instruments) ...i believe these were only made like Sorrentino for a few years...because Epiphone had financial and family issues then Gibson stepped in... ...from a very reliable resource the original Epiphone employees were so mad at Gibson for taking over they burned there plant down and salvaged some veneers and stuff from the broadways and other models...which i know where they are located lol...this all went down the day before takeover.... They hated Gibson with a passion because they were long time rivals like Ford and Chevy true story....Gibson continued to make some models which are the howard, sorrentino, and epi body styles...up until the 40s i believe...but aren't of the same quality....people don't realize but Sorrentino and Howard Brand Guitars were pretty much Identical to Epiphone but were made a little bit nicer with high end features and also a higher price tag in some....in todays world it would be equivalent to say the gibson guitar company and you have the gibson custom shop...so I'd like to think of our models as almost custom Epi's because if they weren't worth mentioning why the heck are our guitars much nicer with nicer inlay even....

 

I'm glad this forum is starting to grow....and Thank you for posting hopefully collectively we can all track down these guitars and help others too. Btw your guitar is the first and only Howard Brand Guitar that I have ever seen and I tried to track these down also for comparison to Sorrentino. As far as value goes if it makes you happy then its priceless...play it and enjoy it and take good care of it or sell it to me [biggrin]

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Interesting...so there could be less than 800 sorrentinos out there total...lol thats friggin awesome...and possibility mine is a 1933 not 34...??sweet....well Gruhn Guitars dated it 1934....

 

Very nice guitar and congrats.

 

I have only ever played one of those and thought it was one of the best built "budget" guitars I had ever stumbled across. The same with those Epi-made Recording Kings which were really well sweet mail order catalog guitars.

 

800 guitars though is a rather large number of instuments for that time. You only ever saw those kind of production figures for budget and mail order catalog guitars (often one in the same).

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because Epiphone had financial and family issues then Gibson stepped in... ...from a very reliable resource the original Epiphone employees were so mad at Gibson for taking over they burned there plant down and salvaged some veneers and stuff from the broadways and other models...which i know where they are located lol...this all went down the day before takeover.... They hated Gibson with a passion because they were long time rivals like Ford and Chevy true story....Gibson continued to make some models which are the howard, sorrentino, and epi body styles...up until the 40s i believe...

 

 

What you say is all true, but I think you are mixing up the dates a bit.... These Sorrentino / Howard guitars were made approx 1934-1937. The troubles you mention were two decades later, when the Sorrentino and Howard brands were long gone.

 

In 1953 Epiphone moved from NY to Philadelphia. In 1957 they were taken over by Gibson, and in march 1958 the Epiphone factory workes burned the left over stocks before the plant was moved to the Gibson factory in Kalamazoo. Many of the original Epi employees workers had moved over to the new NY guitar company Guild by then BTW.

 

You are right though that these are much more scarce than the original Epiphones. There were three Howards on ebay last year, I was lucky to be able to buy the nicest one. It seems all stock and has its original Geib case too.

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