top of page

1957  Gretsch White Penguin semi-solid guitar.

+ This 57 Penguin has a rare 54-55 fixed arm Bigsby vibrato added.


SALE $94,500.00


How Eleven, or Twelve Gretsch guitars, built to impress,
Became one of the world's most valuable guitars in human history.

------------------------- BEGIN CUT TEXT FROM ARTICLE DISCOVERED WHEN RESEARCHING w JAY SCOTT------------------------------

The White Penguin, like the Moderne, (The White Penguin) was a promotional showpiece that was never put into production. As many as a dozen may have been built between 1955 and '58, and all eventually disappeared, prompting some to dub it "The Maltese Penguin." When Mandolin Brothers found and sold one for $70,000 in 1992, it set a benchmark in terms of price. "We broke the world's record for the sale of a fretted instrument not previously owned by a deceased superstar," says Mandolin's Stanley Jay. The high price made the search for the remaining examples even more intense.
   "I'd just gotten back from Florida," Jay Scott remembers, "and in my mailbox was a letter from a guy in Philly and a photo of a White Penguin. It was beautiful, like a rococo musical instrument with a totem on the headstock. So I called him up. Turns out he's Italian, and I'm Italian, and he's telling me about this guitar that was his father's, and he starts crying when he talks about selling it.
   "Then he says he knows that Mandolin Brothers sold one for $70,000 and he says, 'I got to get the big eight-O.' So I called Scott Chinery, who told me to check it out. I did and Scott bought it for $80,000, plus my validation fee."
   Chinery continues the story. "I bought a White Penguin, which is the rarest Gretsch guitar -- a legendary instrument. It had been sitting under this guy's bed for years. It probably cost about $200 new. Now it's valued at $120,000. At one point we produced a series of posters to publicize the collection, and since I also happened to own a Batmobile, the pairing seemed like a natural."

   The most famous "missing" guitar (until 1993 when it was obtained by Mandolin Brothers and sold to Chinery for $150,000) was the D'Angelico Teardrop New Yorker. Larry Wexler recalls the day he first saw it: "The family of the owner, who had died some time before, came in with a plain-looking gig bag for an appraisal. When I opened the bag, I just stood there, amazed. I couldn't believe what I was actually looking at. I mean, nobody I knew had ever seen anything like it."

----------------  END  CUT TEXT   ---------------------------------

all images © vintage gretsch.  No reproduction without express written permission. © 2016

First photo taken outdoors, color is faded and aged / antique white.  Flash photos make finish look bright white.

the reason this guitar isn't $150,000.00 (USD) is becuase this instrument was oversprayed white in the 60's.  It was said to be repainted by Gretsch for free due to flaking off white paint that is common on vintage white Penguins.  If you have seen the two (2) "DOW" Penguins,  the finish is falling, or flaking apart, in large geometric pieces. Some luthiers speculate this was since Gretsch didn't want to use a dark grey primer under white finsih.  Penguins, are in all actuality, 11 to 12 rare Prototype Guitar. Some other old Gretsch information says these were made for the annual NAMM "show-off" a special "eye-catching" Gretsch for the NAMM atendees. If so, I think it's fair to conclude, without any question whatsoever, hey Fred, it worked!

bottom of page