New Zealand woman finds out the acoustic guitar gathering dust in her house is a Martin from 1870

(Image credit: Studio 1 Vintage Guitars)

We've all got one; an old acoustic guitar in the house that doesn't get played or loved enough. But is it a 150-year old Martin parlour worth thousands? And one that could make a huge difference to the lives of others. 

Margaret Simpson recently discovered the guitar in her back room that she purchased in the 1960s for a few pounds in an incredibly rare and historic instrument. The 85-year-old now wants to put it to good use in helping to fund her daughter's chemotherapy treatment. 

Ricky Wilson / Stuff

Margaret Wilson with the Martin guitar (Image credit: Ricky Wilson / Stuff)

“We just don’t have cash, this is what we have,” the Auckland resident told New Zealand Stuff.

Margaret's daughter Jo Simpson is 51 and is currently undergoing chemotherapy treatment for terminal breast cancer that costs $5,000 NZ a month. This nab-Paclitaxel/Abraxane treatment has stabilised the tumours in Jo's liver, lungs and brain. However, the treatment is not one that is currently funded by the state, despite the hope it will continue to give Jo more time with her two young sons.


(Image credit: Studio 1 Vintage Guitars)


Margaret got in touch with Studio 1 Vintage Instruments' founder Garrick Wynne after suspecting the guitar might be worth more than her family had presumed. He confirmed it's size 2 Martin, style 34 from circa 1870 –  worth around US $15,000 (NZ $25,000).

Unlike typical 34-stye guitars, Wynne confirmed Margaret's has an ebony bridge instead of the usual ivory. 

Ricky Wilson / Stuff

Jo Simpson  (Image credit: Ricky Wilson / Stuff)

Tenders for the Martin will close on 3 November and more information can be found at Studio 1 Vintage Guitars. Read more about the story and see a video of the guitar with Margret and Jo at Stuff.

Donations towards Jo's treatment can be made at Give A Little

Rob Laing
Guitars Editor, MusicRadar

I'm the Guitars Editor for MusicRadar, handling news, reviews, features, tuition, advice for the strings side of the site and everything in between. Before MusicRadar I worked on guitar magazines for 15 years, including Editor of Total Guitar in the UK. When I'm not rejigging pedalboards I'm usually thinking about rejigging pedalboards.