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John Henry Martin was born in Dresden, Saxony 24 February 1835. While young, he apprenticed as a horn maker and in 1855 he immigrated to this country settling first in New York City and then in 1865 removing to Chicago where he set up the original Martin company. There may have been a business in Chicago which made and repaired violins which predated Martin’s operation, but as best as we understand Martin’s company was the first in Chicago and certainly the first of its kind.
As with Buescher, Martin made brass instruments and saxophones. From 1912 onwards, the Martin company experienced a number of owners and presidents. Then in 1961 Paul E. Richards made a sweet deal with Martin and Blessing to create from them the Richards Music Corporation. This arrangement fell apart in 1964, and the rights to Martin were bought by Wurlitzer. The old factory was essentially Wurlitzer’s division in Elkhart. Then in 1971 the rights of Martin were bought by Leblanc, and the old factory was closed. Leblanc then began marketing saxophones with the Martin trademark and continued to do so in collaboration with Yanagisawa in the 1990s.
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