Roy Rogers' MARTIN OM-45 Fetches $460,000 at Auction!

Posted by Michael Mueller on April 3, 2009 at 11:56 AM

Roy Rogers Martin GuitarAn anonymous bidder has acquired the "King of Cowboys" Roy Rogers' treasured OM-45 Deluxe Martin Guitar, one of the rarest and considered among many collectors the most coveted. The winning bid during an auction held today at Christies in New York was $460,000. The guitar was put up for auction by The Roy Rogers-Dale Evans Museum in Branson, Missouri.

Originally purchased, used, for $30 at a California pawn shop in 1933 by a young and unknown musician by the name of Leonard Slye, this guitar was the very first OM-45 Deluxe model guitar Martin produced in 1930 (#1 of 15 total). It is the prototype for one of Martin's rarest, most beautiful and highly coveted models. Slye, years later, would go on to become cowboy legend Roy Rogers, never knowing the historical significance of the guitar. Over time, the Martin OM-45 Deluxe would become synonymous with the Rogers stage and film persona.

Sold brand new for $225 in 1930, this guitar was Martin's most expensive model to date. It is not known who the guitar was originally sold to and what happened between that 1930 purchase and Slye's bargain buy a few years later. What is certain is the information still found in C.F. Martin's records, and like many things in Martin's history, upon closer inspection the numbers often tell a previously unknown story. Comparing the timeline, order and expense record books with the serial number log and the notes for the first OM-45 and OM-45 Deluxe models, it's clear that serial #42125, the OM-45 Deluxe made famous by Roy Rogers, is the very first OM-45 Deluxe model produced.

In 1938 when Gene Autry temporarily walked out of his film contract with Republic Pictures, Leonard Slye became "Roy Rogers" and was assigned the lead role in Under Western Stars. The film earned an Academy Award Nomination for best song and made Rogers an instant star. Rogers retired his Deluxe by the mid-1940s and in 1967 it was pulled from his collection for display at the Roy Rogers museum in a glass case. Its serial number, 42125, stamped into the neck block, would years later reveal that this particular guitar has epic historical significance beyond its already documented celebrity status. How fitting that this unique OM was, unknown to its owner or anyone else, already the stuff of legend even before that fateful pawnshop encounter with a future western idol. A two-time inductee into the Country Music Hall of Fame, Rogers passed away in 1998.

In 2006, Martin honored Roy Rogers with a replica signature edition of his famous guitar. Additionally, the C. F. Martin Custom Shop has received many orders based on the highly collectable OM-45 Deluxe model guitars.

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