Jerry Garcia's guitars top 500K at auction
Bonhams and Butterfields' Tuesday, May 8, 2007 auction of Grateful Dead memorabilia from the Ram Rod Shurtliff Collection fetched more than $1.1-million today -- garnered from competitive bidding on telephones and in the crowded San Francisco auction room. Top lots of the day included guitars played on stages and in-studio by Jerry Garcia, original art used on album covers and equipment and collectibles associated with the Grammy Award-winning band.
Lawrence ‘Ram Rod’ Shurtliff, long-time Road Manager and President of the Grateful Dead’s corporation, passed away in 2006. The property on offer was consigned for sale by his son Rudson Shurtliff.
Spotlighted in the sale were Jerry Garcia-played instruments including an electric guitar custom-made by noted San Francisco guitar-maker Doug Irwin in 1971, known as “The Eagle.” It sold for $186,000. A circa 1975 Garcia electric guitar made by Travis Bean has been seen in numerous photos, played on stages as well as in studio recording sessions – the cream-colored guitar sold for $312,000 (est. $250/300,000). It was offered with its custom black leather case and several collector treasures: Garcia’s Vinci guitar strings, a tuning fork, a string winder and an unopened pack of Garcia’s cigarettes (Camel non-filters). A buyer paid $102,000 for a Jerry Garcia acoustic guitar and $39,000 was paid for a Garcia Gibson electric.
Pictured L-R: A circa 1975 electric guitar made by Travis Bean. A Jerry Garcia electric guitar custom-made for him by Doug Irwin, 1971. An electric guitar by Gibson, (L-5 S), circa 1974. Individual Photo Credits: Bonhams.
(details provided by auction house)
Travis Bean Guitar
The body is made of koa painted a crème color with two black plastic pick-ups noting "Travis Bean," and a silver metal pickguard. The neck is made of silver metal, the fretboard made of ebony with ten iridescent mother-of-pearl rectangular-shaped inlays. The headstock is silver metal with a pressed-stamp reading "715."
Doug Irwin Guitar
The body is made of curly maple (and other exotic woods) with a purple heart center and stained sides with two black plastic pick-ups noting "Hi-A." Between the pick-ups, there is a slot that Ram Rod routed out to insert an additional pick up that was never installed.
Garcia's slide from the late 1960s is inside the electronics compartment to add weight, per Garcia's instructions, along with a few of Ram Rod’s son, Rudson's, fishing weights. (When the guitar is picked up, these weights can still be heard, moving around inside);
The fretboard is made of ebony with ten iridescent mother-of-pearl inlays depicting Sanskrit symbols. The headstock has an iridescent mother-of-pearl inlay depicting an eagle in flight. A small brass placard on back of headstock reads "D. Irwin 025." The back body panel has three inlays (two silver symbols plus the Alembic Studios logo) as well as the serial number which reads "GD [Grateful Dead] 025." The original strings from the last time Garcia played it (even the High E string that he broke) are still attached.
The top and back is made of maple with a cherry sunburst finish with two gold-metal pick-ups that note "Gibson." The bridge notes "L5S." A small enamel disc on the body displays the Porsche logo.
The fretboard is made of rosewood with ten abalone rectangular-shaped inlays. The headstock has two abalone inlays; one depicting a flaming cup and the other the Gibson logo.
Jerry Garcia’s circa 1973 stage-worn tooled leather guitar strap by Nudie’s, “Western tailors to the stars,” sold for $20,400, quadrupling its estimate, while a flight case filled with Garcia’s picks, never-opened guitar strings and other accessories sold for $16,800.
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