Thursday, 25 August 2011

WEM Sapphire 12-string - rare 1960s solidbody from this classic British maker

Watkins Electric Music was formed in 1949 in London by the Watkins brothers, Charlie and Reg. Their first solid electric guitars appeared in 1957.

Guitars made by the Watkins brothers have appeared under the WEM (Watkins Electric Music) brand and, after 1968, the Wilson brand. The Watkins brothers had decided to market their guitars under a separate brand from their amps, and chose Wilson as it was their mother's maiden name.

This WEM-branded Sapphire 12-string is a rare model and should appeal to collectors specialising in this maker or of British guitars. This guitar, with bidding on eBay currently at a measley £25, ought to fetch some good money but I feel that the seller is shooting himself in the foot by demanding "Cash on collection, No post collection only".

Some eBay sellers are - how shall we say this politely? - very naïve. It's not as if it is difficult to arrange to send a guitar. You don't have to lug it down to the Post Office. It's easy enough to book a collection online, have the courier pick up the guitar from your house and deliver it in 24 or 48 hours to the destination given. And you can track the whole thing online. Some people don't seem to realise that we are living in the 21st Century yet.

However, you DO have to package the guitar carefully. Perhaps this seller is too lazy to do this. "I haven't got a box big enough," is a poor argument. I have sent guitars packaged in boxes I have made from an assortment of pieces of cardboard that I have found, and have been complimented afterwards by the buyer on how well packed the guitar was. I once sent a Vox AC30 piggyback head to Madrid in a box made out of bits and pieces of cardbaord and that survived the journey admirably and the buyer was extremely happy with it.

So, this is a tip to eBay sellers: Don't be lazy! If you insist on "collection only" then be prepared for your item to sell for peanuts, if it sells at all. Be prepared to do a little work, and package your item carefully. Oh, and good clear, preferably LARGE photos on the eBay listing are a must. The above photo, was the best I could lift from the Sapphire 12 auction. Quite frankly, it's bloody awful.

Enough of the rant. For more on Watkins/WEM/Wilson guitars, see Watkins Guitar World (where there are some better photos of a similar Sapphire 12-string).

G L Wilson

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