Gibson L-C Century of Progress Flat Top Acoustic Guitar (1937)

Gibson  L-C Century of Progress Flat Top Acoustic Guitar  (1937)
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Item # 9227
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Gibson L-C Century of Progress Model Flat Top Acoustic Guitar (1937), made in Kalamazoo, Michigan, serial # 1208C-14, sunburst lacquer finish, maple back and sides, spruce top; mahogany neck with rosewood and celluloid fingerboard, period black hard shell case.

The L-C "Century of Progress" model is one of Gibson's most distinctive acoustic guitar designs, and one of the most visually striking flattop guitars of any era. Combining a 14" 3/5 wide curly maple body with flashy pearloid ornamentation on the neck, the Century is visually somewhat reminiscent of a 1920's tenor banjo. Not just a "looker", the Century is also a sonically distinctive guitar in its own right. The maple back and sides give it a crisp powerful sound perfectly suited to blues and ragtime fingerpicking and when played with a pick the guitar is both loud and cutting enough to play rhythm in a small dance combo.

The Century's maple body is single bound top and back, with finely shaded golden sunburst on all surfaces. The softly V-shaped mahogany neck is also subtly sunbursted. The tuners are individual plastic button Grover Sta-Tites, the pearloid headstock and fingerboard are bound in black and white. Small pearl diamonds are set into rosewood blocks in the celluloid fingerboard creating a dramatic three color visual scheme for the neck which nicely offsets the sunburst-finished spruce top. The soundhole ring is 3-ply W-B-W, while the pickguard is made of Gibson's striking pre-war firestripe tortoise celluloid.

This is a relatively late example of the Century, with a larger sunburst area on the top typical of 1937. The model was originally introduced for the "Century of Progress" exhibition in Chicago in 1933, and was only in production until around 1939. The L-C was a fairly expensive instrument, listing at $60.00 the year this example was made. The distinctive guitar can be easily spotted in old photos of a number of Hillbilly and Radio Cowboy acts of the 1930's, including the Girls of the Golden West and Mainer's Mountaineers. This beautiful example sounds and plays just as it should and is complete with a lovely period black hard case with green plush lining
 
Overall length is 40 in. (101.6 cm.), 14 3/4 in. (37.5 cm.) wide at lower bout, and 4 1/2 in. (11.4 cm.) in depth at side, taken at the end block. Scale length is 24 3/4 in. (629 mm.). Width of nut is 1 3/4 in. (44 mm.).

This is a superbly clean example of this unusual and striking Gibson creation, looking to have not seen much play time in 80+ years. The finish shows some light checking but hardly any play wear at all. The back center seam has been resealed tightly and there appears to be a very small paint patch on the face of the headstock over what is likely a tiny cigarette ash burn. The bridge looks to have been reglued long ago. This guitar has had a neck reset and a refret (a notoriously difficult procedure on this celluloid-coated fingerboard) and so is an excellent player, with a well-defined yet still sweet sound. Excellent Condition.