2010 has been an excellent year for guitar collectors, one which has seen the market go from strength to strength. Earlier this month the last major guitar auction of the year took place, and with a final sale total of $1.2m it continued the trend for rising prices.
The Heritage Fine and Vintage guitar auction on November 13 topped off a great year for collectors. The sale, which saw celebrity rock-and-roll guitarists and some of the nation's top dealers and collectors in the audience, sold 99.5% by value and 98.7% by lot, numbers that exceeded expectations.
As expected, however, were the two biggest names of the auction: Gibson and Fender.
The sale's top selling lot was a Gibson 1961 ES-335 Cherry guitar with its original hard case, which sold for an impressive $25,095.
"Everything about this guitar says 'classic,'" said Mike Gutierrez, Consignment Director for Heritage. "It wasn't a surprise that it was the top offering of the day, or that it brought some of the most spirited bidding of the whole auction. A smart collector took this beauty home."
Another top-quality Gibson was a classic 1958 ES 335 Sunburst Electric. This unbound 335 boasted 100% of its original make and its original hard-shell case, and sold for $23,900. That $23,900 price was matched by a near perfect 1962 Fender Stratocaster Sunburst Electric, an example of an early 1960s Strat that was nearly flawless in all respects.
"Talk about a true time capsule piece," said Gutierrez. "It has all its tags and is accompanied by the original sales receipt. The words 'museum quality' come to mind in the presence of a guitar like this one."
Despite the popularity of the Gibsons, Fender Stratocaster Sunburst guitars made up five of the top ten lots including a 1958 Fender Stratocaster Sunburst Guitar that sold for $22,705, and an all-original 1957 Fender Stratocaster Sunburst Electric Guitar that went for $19,120.
A particular highlight of the sale was the 1960 Fender Precision Bass owned and played by legendary "slap" bassist and Elvis Presley band member Bill Black, which reached a price of $10,158.
"We knew from our July guitar auction that we were on to something desired in this industry," said Gutierrez.
"This is a market that has been traditionally dominated by music stores and dealers. As we saw, however, with almost 900 bidders competing for this stunning array of instruments, quality sells, and sells very well."
2010 has seen a number of notable guitar sales: last month a 1957 Gibson Les Paul sold for an incredible $94,000, and in July a 1959 Gibson Les Paul Custom "Black Beauty" reached $56,762. Auctions have shown that when the best guitars have come onto the market, buyers have been more than happy to smash the estimates.
For both collectors and investors, it may only be rock 'n' roll but they like it.
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