UPDATE: 1/6/18 10:30 a.m. CST: The fiddle once belonging to Roy Acuff has been pulled from an online auction after the rightful owner came forward and said the fiddle was donated by mistake. After showing verification of ownership, the fiddle was returned to the owner. Bids had reached above $8,000 before being taken off of auction.
“That person, who wishes to remain anonymous, informed Goodwill that the item was a family heirloom mistakenly donated by a family member,” reads a press release from CEO of Goodwill Western Missouri & Eastern Kansas, Kevin Bentley. “Upon verification of the instrument’s ownership, Goodwill suspended the online bidding process, removed the fiddle from Goodwill’s items for sale and returned it to the owner. Goodwill appreciates how valuable this fiddle is to music lovers. It is also a family heirloom that came into our possession by mistake. Because of that, we have honored the request to return the item. [We apologize] for any inconvenience this might have caused for any of our shoppers.”
The original story continues below
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Imagine stumbling into a thrift store and finding the mother of all country music treasures? This is the dream of every thrift store hound has as they sift through reams of outdated clothing and knick knacks looking for that one-of-a-kind item. And even though this particular treasure didn’t slip by the thrift store staff and end up in a bargain bin for $5.99, it still makes for a compelling story.
A authentic fiddle owned by country music legend Roy Acuff is up for auction at a Kansas City Goodwill after being anonymously donated to a local store. The fiddle was handmade by Roy Acuff’s uncle Evart Acuff who made many of Roy’s fiddles, and who numbered each one. This particular fiddle was constructed in Maryville, TN in August 1945, and is numbered #19. A sticker inside the fiddle bears its authenticity (though Maryville is misspelled ‘Merryville’), and the fiddle also includes paperwork verifying what it is, and who it’s from.
“We recognized right away that it was something special and we now have it up for auction,” says Gary Raines, who runs Goodwill’s e-commerce program in Kansas City. “We have no information on the owner. They just donated it and moved on. … The certificate of authenticity and other paperwork are copies but we are confident that it’s the real thing.”
The handmade fiddle is made of apple wood from a tree on a family farm. There is now word on how the fiddle ended up in Kansas City. But there is a letter included that is dated 2003 and helps verify its authenticity. The letter is written by to to Roy Acuff’s 2nd cousin Charlie Boyd Acuff of Alcoa, Tennessee. Charlie Acuff was also a noted fiddler who often played locally, and passed away on November 22, 2013.
The Roy Acuff fiddle is currently up for auction at Goodwill.org with a top bid at time of print at over just over $8,000.
Roy Acuff was arguably country music’s first superstar, helping to make the Grand Ole Opry into a nationally-syndicated radio show, and presiding over country music during its ascent to a major American music genre. He was commonly referred to as the “King of Country Music” even before later stars such as Hank Williams and George Strait. Roy Acuff died in 1992 at the age of 89.