Bacon & Day Silver Bell #1 Tenor Banjo (1929)

Bacon & Day  Silver Bell #1 Tenor Banjo  (1929)
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Item # 9386
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Bacon & Day Silver Bell #1 Model Tenor Banjo (1929), made in Groton CT, serial # 27803, shaded maple finish, laminated maple neck, rim and resonator; ebony fingerboard, black tolex hard shell case.

This tenor banjo is a typical 19-fret Silver Bell, the simplest iteration of the Bacon Banjo Company's high-end professional B&D line. That's not saying it's a plain banjo -- on the contrary, the upper-end Silver Bells were both the fanciest and most expensive (for the period) banjos ever built. The #1 was the basic professional model but still a very flashy instrument, retailing originally at $140.00. They were quite popular in the 1920s and beyond, especially among vaudeville and variety players.

The unique low-mounted Silver Bell flange has f-hole shaped cuts for sound holes. The resonator back is dark-finished burl maple, bound in black celluloid with an engraved nameplate by the heel. The heavy Silver Bell tone ring is the later non-perforated style, and the famous knee mute is present and working. The tailpiece is the original adjustable Oettinger in excellent condition and the later style long armrest is intact as well.

The multi-laminate maple neck has delicate shaped pearl inlays in the bound ebony fingerboard. The laminate headstock (both front and back) has elaborate floral pearl inlay around the "B&D Silver Bell" logo. This one has original geared Grover tuners that work fine 90+ years along.

The Silver Bell series were among the finest banjos ever built, and this #1 is a lovely example. It belonged to a lady named Gloria O'Shaughnessy in 1939; there is a delicately engraved brass plaque pinned to the dowel stick attesting to that!
 
Overall length is 33 1/2 in. (85.1 cm.), 11 in. (27.9 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 3/16 in. (30 mm.).

This is a nice example of this classic Silverbell model overall, showing signs of 90 years of use but ready to twang on for many more. The finish is worn down to the wood on the back of the neck, while the resonator back shows some typical scratches and scuffs. All hardware is original except for the "Spoon" handle and spring for the mute system, which are correct modern repro parts. The plating shows some fairly light wear but is actually quite well-preserved for an instrument of this age. The neck is excellent, the frets show only minor wear. This is a fine sounding and playing Silverbell. It is set up "modern style" with a plastic head and ebony/bone capped maple bridge. Includes a more recent HSC. Very Good + Condition.