Bacon & Day Silver Bell #4/#1 Tenor Banjo (1923/25)

Bacon & Day  Silver Bell #4/#1 Tenor Banjo  (1923/25)
This item has been sold.
Item # 11710
Prices subject to change without notice.
Bacon & Day Silver Bell #4/#1 Model Tenor Banjo (1923/25), made in Groton CT, serial # 10465/18369, shaded maple finish, laminated maple neck and rim, ebony fingerboard, original black hard shell case.

This lovely banjo is a composite of two early Bacon & Day Silver Bells, with a slightly later neck on an older rim carrying some appointments only seen on the first production examples. The rim bears a serial number dating to the late summer or fall of 1923. The low-riding flange has round holes instead of the familiar f-hole shaped cuts and there was never any mute, this example pre-dating those features. The resonator back is beautifully deep-carved spun maple with no nameplate, much more elaborate than the later pattern. The Silver Bell tone ring sheath has round portholes facing inward and outwards typical of the first examples. The tailpiece is the earlier Grover Presto instead of the later Oettinger; there are brackets for an armrest but none is fitted.

The 5-piece multi-laminated 23" scale neck has a number on the dowel dating it to 1925. It has a carved heel and multiple underlays under the bound ebony fingerboard which carries delicate shaped pearl inlay. The three-ply laminate headstock (both front and back) has a small decorative pearl piece on the back as well as elaborate face inlay. The dowel is marked #4 (an original stamp, not overstamped) and the carved heel, bound headstock, extra fingerboard inlay and gold-plated, pearl button Planet tuners confirm its #4 status. This neck is built with the longer professional 23" scale than the 1923 original, although why or when the parts were mated is lost to history. While not a 100% original instrument this is a beautiful, charming and great-sounding professional tenor.
Overall length is 33 1/2 in. (85.1 cm.), 11 1/8 in. (28.3 cm.) diameter head, and 4 in. (10.2 cm.) in depth, measured at side of rim. Scale length is 23 in. (584 mm.). Width of nut is 1 1/8 in. (29 mm.).

As noted this banjo is an assemblage of two different vintage Silver Balls, one 100 and one 98 years old. The parts appear original and correct for the respective sections, though it is of course impossible to tell exactly. The finish appears original except the resonator back has a non-professional overfinish, heavier than the period varnish. The banjo shows some light finish wear and general plating wear, most notable nearly all the hooks have lost their plating. The original frets have some wear but the banjo plays very well, set up with a Renaissance-style head for a deeper yet incisive tone. It resides in the original (1925 era) HSC which is solid but has been painted black with a replaced handle. Excellent - Condition.