Guitar, ca. 1870


Joseph Bini (American, b. Italy, ca. 1810–1877), designer; J. Howard Foote (American, 1833–1896), maker
Guitar (serial number 654), ca. 1870
Spruce, rosewood, ebony; 7 3/4 x 24 5/8 in. (19.7 x 62.5 cm)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Purchase, The Jonathan & Faye Kellerman Foundation Gift, 2010 (2010.334)

Born in the Veneto, Joseph Bini came to the United States in 1846 to play guitar in P. T. Barnum’s American Museum, located at the corner of Broadway and Ann Street in Manhattan. That year, Bini introduced a new design for a guitar bridge with a tailpiece, like a violin. Bini was the first Italian luthier to set up a workshop in New York and is listed in the Brooklyn City Directory in 1852. He later worked in Mount Vernon and built guitars with his son Antonio. In 1867 he patented an unusual bracing system based on the X system of Martin Guitars. This guitar was built using Bini’s patent by the New York manufacturer and distributor J. Howard Foote (1833–1896).