Thanks for having me on the EGAV site! I am a experienced classical guitar builder(serious but still a hobby).
I just finished reading Art and Times of the Guitar and I am intrigued with building a pre-Torres guitar. Any suggestions for a newbie? Any reliable, accurate blueprints? I have easy access to the Vermillion, SD music museum and research department so....
I'd say that if you are an experienced builder, any of the mainstream (Panormo, Lacote, Stauffer) early romantic instruments would be a fine place to start. Of the three the Panormo is most like modern Torres style guitars albeit smaller. Lacote and Stauffer use a different bracing system and offer a few different joinery related "minor" challenges.
I might shy away from the Stauffer "slipper" head (Fender electric guitar looking headstock) for my first 19th century guitar unless you like a challenge. The tuners are expensive, take a while to get as they have to be hand made and are interesting to install. All very do-able with patience but Stauffer made the same body/adjustable "flying fingerboard" instrument with the figure eight peghead so I'd suggest doing that.
The Lacote instruments often use a different tuner as well but the headstock is easily adapted to more modern tuners. And remember many of the 19th century luthiers made instrument models with pegs as well as mechanical tuners so there's always an inexpensive alternative that is also historically authentic.
As to plans, they have become much more available from museums over the last decade so that's a good place to look. Some nice well done drawings come from here
I don't intend shameless self promotion by pointing it out. I recieve no renumeration and any/all proceeds go to support the G.A.L. I just think it is a charming little instrument with a big sound and all who have built it have been very pleased. The drawing could be more detailed (and would be were I to do it over) but does contain all the necessary measurements for an experienced builder to construct an accurate reproduction. And any additional info is easily obtained through an email to the one who drew the plan.
So there's a bit of info. Keep adding to that pile of sawdust and keep us informed on the progress.