Bacon & Day Silver Bell #1 Guitar Banjo (1925)

Bacon & Day  Silver Bell #1 Guitar Banjo  (1925)

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Item # 8534
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Bacon & Day Silver Bell #1 Model Guitar Banjo (1925), made in Groton CT, serial # 17308, shaded maple finish, laminated maple rim and neck, ebony fingerboard, original black hard shell case.

This is a rare and beautiful Bacon & Day instrument -- the Silver Bell #1 Banjo-Guitar. Although listed in the B&D catalogs as a special-order item, not many of these striking six-string banjos were made and they are rare today. This substantial-feeling banjo carries the full Silver Bell appointments, including the deep f-hole flange and fancy shaped pearl inlay on the headstock face and fingerboard. There are multiple ebony/maple laminates to neck, heel, and head, and bound heavy ebony fingerboard and resonator rim. The Silver Bell tone ring still has the early-style perforations to the sheath under the head, but no holes drilled through the rim -- an unusual transitional feature.

This example also has unusual original Grover patent geared tuners with a spike and oblong casing, which were not on the market very long. The tailpiece is period but not original and is a "universal" style with eight string hooks suitable for any banjo stringing. The "Soft Pedal" mute system appears to have been removed long ago. The very thick neck fills the hand but has a comfortable round profile, and the banjo plays very well. The Silver Bell is certainly one of the finest banjo-guitars ever made, good for a variety of applications from ragtime to folk/blues and early jazz and is especially useful for playing in the Modern Dance Orchestra -- ca. 1925!
 
Overall length is 35 1/8 in. (89.2 cm.), 11 5/8 in. (29.5 cm.) diameter head, and 4 in. (10.2 cm.) in depth, measured at side of rim. Scale length is 24 in. (610 mm.). Width of nut is 1 7/8 in. (48 mm.).

Overall this is a very nice example, with some play wear but no major repair. The finish shows some small dings and dents on the back of the neck, and the resonator plate is very clean. The hardware still has a good shine without much corrosion and remains original except for the generic tailpiece and, as noted, the mute is long gone. The banjo is set up with a skin head, a lovely replica Bacon bridge, and LaBella 6-string banjo strings and sounds and plays very well. A fine example of this 1920s rarity. The original hard case is included, well-worn but functional. Excellent - Condition.