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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Dating an Epiphone Banjo from the 1925-1930s era


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banjotrader - Posted - 03/22/2015:  16:59:59


Hi folks, 



With the help of many BHO members and the use of their Tsumura Collections, as well as Epiphone enthusiasts all over the world + Vinnie Mondello's work experience; we've managed to figure it out the dating.



Here is my plausible model based on known catalogs, advertisements, large sample of Epiphone SN (with full characterizations) to help track changes.

I welcome any new information that can help strengthen this up any further.



***********Please share your SN here, or in a Private Message***************

SN, Model, flange type (square, oval, skirt, X), Resonator type, Tone ring type (Cast, or Pillar System).



1923: (SUPERB line introduced)

Serial Number Range: No Serial Numbers

Wonder X, VIII, XX, Peerless, Professional



Late 1924 - Mid 1925: (Oct 1924 First Advertisement of Recording line)

New Models: Artist/Bandmaster/Concert Art/Deluxe Art

Serial Number Range: No Serial Numbers

Tone Ring: Cast base + Tone ring: Gen 1 (Thick Cast Base - 2 Versions) , Gen 2 (Thinner posts on Cast Base).  We sometimes see the Gen1 unplated.

Flange: Square, Skirt (Engraved on Deluxe Art) & Oval Flange Designs (two variations: Wide hole and Thin hole- see Tsumura).

Style Notes:

Deluxe Art had Dragon Design on resonator, occasional carvings on back of peghead

Dragon Design Peghead on Art Models (i.e. Concert Art/Deluxe Art)​, found occasionally on Bandmaster (w/ Oval flange model)

Heel Carvings found Concert Art & Deluxe Art, occasionally on the Bandmaster.

Hercules Tuners occasionally found.

Some early Bandmasters found with nickel plated flanges, also made of maple instead of the later Brazilian Rosewood.

Presto Style TP & Oettinger TP being used, but without consistency.

Resonator sometimes has wood inserts to support flange



Notes:

1925 Advertisement in "Feb/Mar The Music Trades" show old flange models

A few serialized X flanges (but they are machined differently i.e. Hand-Hammered) - see link

Also had E. Stathopoulo peghead (very rare)

Arrival at the new factory Jun/Jul 1925 ends this period.  The Farovan factory was bought out...

Patent file Jan 1925 - pdfpiw.uspto.gov/.piw?Docid=1723818



Mid 1925 - Early 1927: (New Factory up and running)

Serial Number Range: Consistent serialization go forward: 5500-5749

Tone Ring:

Pillar tone ring system introduced (Gen 3 Stanchions into wood rim) - Similar to Paramount system ~557X

Gen 2 (Thin cast base) Leftovers used up and discontinued

Flange: 

New "X" Flange in production (A couple leftover X flanges - used the older machining process) - see: link

Flange sees a couple trials of notched inserts for the resonator attachment, as well as 4 mounting screw version.

Style Notes:

Wood Resonators on Artist/B/Concert Art

Deluxe Art now has Sunburst Designed Resonator (Found in 2 varieties Celluloid/Wood) replacing the dragon backed resonator.

Dragon Design Peghead on Art Models (i.e. Concert Art/Deluxe Art)

Bandmaster diamond inlays are sometime plain, other times engraved...  This seems to occur from early 1925+​​

Oettinger comes standard on all recording Models

Resonator sometimes has wood inserts to support flange



Notes:

New catalog in 1925 (Orange and Black spread)

Patent Applied for appears around 557X.  This also is the start of early Bandmaster diamond inlays.  It seems that maybe a stock pile of Lange Inlays were kept for only the upper end banjos (i.e. Concert Art & Deluxe Art).​

Other new models (White Beauty, Bluebud, Black Beauty, Golden Rod) announced in late 1925.  These do not last long.  - Professional Style also found.

New SUPERB trademark line begins Jan 1926, Superb-Wonder disappears

Surgical Steel reinforced necks introduced in Q4-1926.  As mentioned in the upcoming 1928 catalog.



Early 1927 - Late 1927: (MTR Mentions a newly designed Epiphone)

Serial Number Range: 5750-5999

Concert Special model introduced w/ Holly Resonator

59XX range Deluxe Art have early Celluloid Pattern resonator (pre-production/experimentation)

Oettinger TP being replaced by "Epiphone" engraved clamshell tailpiece 575X



Notes:

Concert Special - Flange mounting cutout seen rarely; 5884 is an example

Notched inserts for the resonator attachment, as well as 4 mounting screw version - seen occasionally 5908 is such an example

 



Late 1927-Mid 1929: (New Catalog in 1928, early sales in Late 1927)

Serial Number Range: 6000-7693

New Alhambra, Emperor & Dansant models appear

Lower-end models introduced (Mayfair, Rialto, Peerless) & begin to be serialized. SUPERB lines disappears

Style Notes:

Celluloid resonator on Alhambra/B/Concert/Concert Spc etc.. Celluloid on back of Peghead (Bandmaster)

Deluxe resonator shifts to permanent Fleur-de-lis - from Sunburst Model (Last design)

Dragon on headstock (Concert Art / Deluxe Art) disappears

Art Models Discontinued

Natural Wood Resonator disappears (except on the Recording A)

Logo on headstock disappears.  This crossover also begins the new celluloid backped peghead.  

      - Early Celluloid models have the plain back peghead with logo (6000 to ~63XX) - Varies by Models (Concert ~61XX, BandMaster ~62XX, etc..)



Notes:



6426 first full X flange, no longer adjusted for ArmRest

​"Patent applied for" ends in Apr-May 1929 between 7676 - 7693

Grover TP attached with 2 screws into tensioner band 737X-74XX

A new heel shape for Deluxe's, its more of a block shape than the rounded falloff to the rim as seen before.  Between 71XX-77XX

Odd Peghead seen on Concert Special 6240

Oettinger replaced by new Clamshell style TP

​Occasionally see custom models such as the Beaux Art, mixed features (B w/ Alhambra fretboard), etc..



Mid 1929 - 1932:  (Understood from Lawsuit timeframe - May 1929)

Serialization: 7694-8499

Patent 1,550,826 used under license starts in Apr-May 1929.  This from the "Applied for Patent".

 



"Lange Brings Suit on Banjo Resonator Patent



Papers have been served in the action brought

by William L. Lange, manufacturer of Paramount

banjos at 225 East Twenty-fourth street,

New York, against the Epiphone Banjo Corp.,

New York, and Harry Myers, its secretary and

treasurer, as co-defendants for an alleged infringement

on U. S. patent No. 1,550,826, issued to Mr.

Lange in August, 1925. The patent pertains to a

banjo in which a resonator of greater diameter

than the rim of the instrument is employed, the

resonator being spaced from the rim by means

of a spacing member provided with sound openings.

Alleged infringements by certain other

parties will be disposed of by licensing agreements,

or suits will be considered if such negotiations

fail, according to a statement issued by

Mr. Lange."





"Patent Infringement Suit Is Settled



The patent infringement suit brought by William

L. Lange against the Epiphone Banjo

Corp. and Harry F. Meyers has been settled. A

consent decree and injunction order were entered

against the defendants and a license was

granted to the Epiphone Banjo Corp. to continue

to manufacture banjos, on a royalty basis,

embodying the particular features of the William

L. Lange patents that were claimed to

have been infringed. This settlement terminates

the pending suits which were to have been tried

in the Federal Courts May 14, 1929"



1933-1940:

Serial Number Range: 8500+

The 1939/1940 Catalog makes final reference to its banjo line [Mayfair / Rialto / Artist / Bandmaster / Concert / Concert Spc / Deluxe / Dansant / Emperor]



Model Distribution (SN 6000-8599):

A - 20% (520)

Alhambra - 15% (390)

B - 12% (312)

Concert - 11% (286)

Concert Special - 8% (208)

Deluxe - 16% (416)

Dansant - 5% (130)

Emperor - 3% (78)



Mayfair - 6% (156)

Rialto - 4%​ (104)





Plating of the banjos:  (From Plating and Surface Finishing, Volume 64 - 1977)



Now 87-years-old. the founder of Queens Plating Company 

in Long Island ind an AES member since 1925. 

Varga recalls his "big break": 

"At that time you had to be at least 14 to work, 

but I got an under-the-table work permit. 

At the wage of $3 for a 59-hour work week



Varga solicited the business of Epiphone Banjo 

Company. "I asked them if they needed any plating

work for their banjo parts and they chased me away. 

But I kept coming back sometimes two and three 

times a week.



Coincidentally, 

one year after my first visit to Epiphone, 

they gave me a sample to gold plate. 

When I brought it back, they asked me to 

plate all of the hooks, flanges and tailpieces 

for each banjo.  Even though I quoted a price of

$12, they offered me $15 per set.



But, without cash, sacrificies had to be

made.  Items such as Joe's gold watch and

his wife's gold belt buckle were destined

to become banjo coatings.  Varge describes

the process:



"First, I would use tin-snips to cut our gold articles 

into parts about the size of a fingernail. Next, 1 put 

the gold pieces in a crucible with hydrochloric acid 

and a small amount of nitric acid, and heated this 

mixture on the stove. Then. I put the solution in a big

clear dish filled w ith water and added a little ammonia.

Joe's eyes light up as he tells how the ammonia 

"collected" the gold and deposited the valuable 

solution to the bottom of the dish, creating an 

emulsion. "After that, I'd siphon off the solution 

at the top. rinse the gold solution four or five times, 

add a little cyanide, and there I had it: 

gold solution ready to use!"



FROM BANJOS TO BULLETS As it turned out, 

the banjo business brought Varga a great 

deal of good publicity, and soon. 

Joe was enjoying the prosperity of his growing company.





 



Edited by - banjotrader on 07/28/2016 11:40:30

ktbown - Posted - 03/22/2015:  17:18:35


This has needed to be done for a long time ....A big Thank You for your efforts in putting it together yesyes


dugzbawz - Posted - 04/09/2015:  09:08:41


quote:Here is another variant for your list! I recently had the very earliest "B" through my workshop. It had the earliest tone ring and square hole flange and was made of San Domingo mahogany with the Stathopoulo stamp on the peghead which is a slightly different shape and a carved heel. Also, most of the "A"s of this period were maple, either blonde or stained. As you will have discovered, these early models were all slightly different!!! Best regards, Jock


Originally posted by banjotrader

Hi folks, since I recently purchased an Epiphone tenor banjo, I became inspired as well as intrigued as to why no model existed to date these early banjos, so here goes the reseach.




With the help of many BHO members for use of their Tsumura Collection, as well as Epiphone enthusiasts all over the world + Vinnie Mondello's work experience; we've managed to figure it out (so it seems).



Here is my plausible model based on known catalogs, advertisements, large sample of Epiphone SN (with characterizations).

I welcome any new informations that can help strengthen this up any further.



***********Please share you SN here, on in a Private Message***************

SN, Model, flange type (square, oval, skirt, X), Resonator type, Tone ring type (Cast, or Pillar System).




Late 1924 - Mid 1925: (Nov 1924 First Advertisement of Recording line)

No Serial Numbers, or early 1-2000 SNs

New Models: Artist/Bandmaster/Concert Art/Deluxe Art

Deluxe Art had Dragon Design on resonator, occasional carving on back of peghead

Dragon Design Peghead on Art Models (i.e. Concert Art/Deluxe Art)​, found occasionally on Bandmaster (w/ Oval flange model)

Square, Skirt (Engraved on Deluxe Art) & Oval Flange Designs.

Cast base + Tone ring: Gen 1 (Thick posts) , Gen 2 (Thinner posts)



Notes:

1925 Advertisement in "Feb/Mar The Music Trades" show old flange models

A few serialized X flanges (but they are machined differently i.e. Hand-Hammered) - see link

Also had E. Stathopoulo peghead (very rare)

Arrival at the new factory Jun/Jul 1925 ends this period.  The Farovan factory was bought out...




Mid 1925 - Early 1927: (New Factory up and running)

Consistent serialization 5500-5799

New "X" Flange in production (A couple leftover X flanges - used the older machining process) - see: link

Wood Resonators on Artist/B/Concert Art

Other new models (White Beauty, Bluebud, Black Beauty, Golden Rod) announced in late 1925.  These do not last long.

New SUPERB trademark line begins Jan 1926, Super-Wonder disappears

Deluxe Art now has Sunburst Designed Resonator (Found in 2 varieties Celluloid/Wood)

Dragon Design Peghead on Art Models (i.e. Concert Art/Deluxe Art)

Gen 2 (Thin cast base) Leftovers used up and discontinued

Pillar tone ring system introduced (Gen 3 Stanchions into wood rim) - Similar to Paramount system

Flange sees a couple trials of notched inserts for the resonator attachment, as well as 4 mounting screw version.

Oettinger comes standard on all recording Models



Notes:

New catalog in 1926 (referred to as the 1925 Catalog online at Fox guitars, parts are newly styled made at Long Island factory)




Early 1927 - Late 1927: (MTR Mentions a newly designed Epiphone)

Serialization: 5800-5999

Concert Special model introduced w/ Holly Resonator



Notes:

Concert Special - Flange mounting cutout seen rarely; 5884 is an example




Late 1927-Mid 1929: (New Catalog in 1928, early sales in Late 1927)

Serialization: 6000-7799

New Alhambra, Emperor & Dansant models appear

Lower-end models introduced (Mayfair, Rialto, Peerless) & begin to be serialized. SUPERB lines disappears

Celluloid resonator on Alhambra/B/Concert/Concert Spc etc.. Celluloid on back of Peghead (Bandmaster)

Deluxe resonator shifts to Fleur-de-lis - from Sunburst Model (Last design)

Dragon on headstock (Concert Art / Deluxe Art) disappears

Art Models Discontinued

Wood Resonator disappears (except on the Recording A)

Logo on headstock disappears

"Patent applied for" ends




Notes:

6443 first full X flange, no longer adjusted for ArmRest

Odd Peghead seen on Concert Special 6240

Oettinger replaced by new Clamshell style tuner




Mid 1929 - 1932:  (Understood from Lawsuit timeframe - July 1929)

Serialization: 7800-8499

Patent 1,550,826 used under license starts in Jul 1929.  This from the "Applied for Patent".




1933:

Serialization: 8500+







 




   

stylexnumber9 - Posted - 06/10/2015:  07:40:24


And this one?

banjoworld.de/High561.htm

12" vellum, 19 frets, scale length 22 3/8
With the earliest Epiphone Recording tonering.

On the peghead you find: "E.A.Stathopoulo Epiphone Special"

banjotrader - Posted - 06/10/2015:  07:46:28


This one is the earliest Recording Style A.  1924.  Mentioned above as (Also had E. Stathopoulo peghead (very rare))

Vinnie has documented this with me, but the features are all "Recording"


stylexnumber9 - Posted - 06/10/2015:  07:53:11


quote:



But is has 12" vellum size (unique in all Epiphone series.



Peghead reads "Special"



 






Originally posted by banjotrader

This one is the earliest Recording Style A.  1924.  Mentioned above as (Also had E. Stathopoulo peghead (very rare))

Vinnie has documented this with me, but the features are all "Recording"




 

banjotrader - Posted - 06/10/2015:  08:00:06


It's an odd-ball rim for sure...  maybe custom??


stylexnumber9 - Posted - 06/10/2015:  08:02:49


Vinnie's has the same big 12" size (but a 5-string conversion neck)

stylexnumber9 - Posted - 06/10/2015:  08:17:42


On Vinnie's restoration website there is better visible:

Above the nut (on the peaghead) there you can read: "Special"

But not "A" or even "Recording"

stylexnumber9 - Posted - 06/10/2015:  08:18:54


Sorry, here is Vinnie's restoration link:

4stringbanjos.com/Epi5String/E...njo1.html

banjotrader - Posted - 06/10/2015:  08:21:47


Thats correct, the features are all early Recording Style A (Artist) type... without actually saying it.


wuzapicker - Posted - 09/11/2015:  17:54:14


My Epiphone Alhambra Recording tenor banjo is serial 7496 which I've owned since 1972. Silver plated brass and MOTS galore! The fingerboard is white MOTS and the resonator is green MOTS. Some Alhambra's have silver MOTS resonators, but mine is green.  "Patent Applied For" is stamped on the underside of the flange.



The late Jon Lundberg once told me my Epiphone Alhambra is a 1928 model. It's a well played beater with a good straight neck. I had it re-fretted years ago. It lacks the original armrest but has two threaded holes in the tension hoop where it once fit. The original Grover Clam-shell tailpiece is broken so it wears a period Paramount Window-latch instead. But this Epi still cuts through the brass section like a razor. It's very solid and also the loudest tenor I own.



Interesting thing, the neck has an adjustable truss rod, with the adjustment nut at the south end by the tension hoop. I've seen others with the nut hidden behind a cork. I'm not sure what that meant with Gibson's patent.



Michael



Edited by - wuzapicker on 09/11/2015 17:56:45

banjotrader - Posted - 09/11/2015:  18:22:36


Thanks Michael, glad all that what you've described/mentioned fits well within the model.  1928/early 1929 is definitely fitting.


MikeHashem - Posted - 09/17/2015:  07:02:06


I have a Ephiphone armrest for sale if you want one.   Mike Hashem


bbarton - Posted - 02/16/2016:  08:39:49


This is great information -- thanks 'banjotrader' for putting it all together, especially the serial numbers! The information complements the 1928 Epiphone banjo catalog reprint nicely. My main player is a Rec A, and I also have a Rec Concert that Vinnie M is going to do some minor resto work on. I presumed from your dating that both of these are from very late 1927 to early 1928. I also had a very nice gold-plated Rec A that I sold to a professional musician friend (who's having a blast touring Australia and UK with it!); based on its serial number I put it as late 1929.

I did notice a couple of differences between the two A's.
(1) The body of the later model (29) is actually about 1/4" deeper than the earlier one (27-28) -- I noticed this when measuring for a case. Have others seen this, and anyone know when the change occurred?
(2) The headstock on the later one appears to be polished ebony or lacquered, whereas that on the earlier model is dark brown rather than the black-brown of ebony. A banjo luthier told me it looked like pearwood. I've seen others like that. Anyone care to comment on that?

Polle Flaunoe - Posted - 04/19/2016:  05:23:29


Guys,



I wonder - when did Epiphone start reinforcing the necks on examples of the Recording series with a rectangular bar of hardened steel - somewhat in the same way as Bacon did on B&D Silver Bell´s ab late 1926? Do any of you know about this?



Yesterday I received these horrible pics of a damaged Epi Dansant from a Danish buddy - I do for now not know its vintage - shortly I and/or my assistant master luthier are going to fix the damage. Luckily the Pyralin peghead front and back coverings have not been damaged, it seems.



 



Its steel bar is clearly visible - only I´m surprised noticing that the bar seems sharply bended beneath the nut and going into the peghead.



Polle



Edited by - Polle Flaunoe on 04/19/2016 05:25:09

banjotrader - Posted - 04/19/2016:  06:07:11


Since 1927.  The model you've mentioned is within the next phase of banjos, i.e. Dansants weren't introduced until 1928.



Edited by - banjotrader on 04/19/2016 06:08:55

drinkybanjo - Posted - 04/19/2016:  06:50:24


Page 5 of the 1928 Epiphone Catalog mentions the surgical steel bar used to prevent neck warping.  It doesn't mention when they started the practice.  Maybe someone has an older catalog?


banjotrader - Posted - 04/19/2016:  07:07:17


Timothy - exactly...  The 1925 catalog mentions no such description only that the 3 layer veneers provide reinforcement.  1927 as mentioned in my response is when the Concert Special was released...  It was the newest/first model of the 1928 style banjos to be released


drinkybanjo - Posted - 04/19/2016:  07:37:03


I have a Recording A (6138) which has the decal on the back of the headstock and a X flange that matches later models. The neck is straight as an arrow so I'm assuming it has the steel bar. BTW, it sounds great!

Polle Flaunoe - Posted - 04/19/2016:  07:54:51


Thanks for the infos!



So their introduction of the steel reinforcement dates to the same time or shortly after Bacon´s introduction of an almost identical reinforcement.



I simply love this neck construction - in my own experiences the passive steel reinforcement doesn´t in any way affect the longitudinal neck oscillations so prominent for 4-string banjos with high string tensions (especially CGDA tenors) - opposite sometimes banjos with an adjustable truss rod á la Gibson. Plus - of the hundreds of B&D Silver Bells and also the rather few Epi Recordings that I´ve worked on - I still have to see an example with a bowed or twisted neck. Also - the steel reinforcement allowed the manufacturers to give their banjos a rather slim neck profile - besides an ultimate playability this brings some nice extra overtones and an improved sustain.



Polle



Edited by - Polle Flaunoe on 04/19/2016 07:59:24

banjotrader - Posted - 04/19/2016:  08:09:02


Thanks Timothy, I'll be sure to record this banjo in the directory (owners names are not kept), just the banjo type and details you've provided.



Polle - these are killer banjos!  Sold at least 10 so far this year.  They all possess the exact effect you've described regarding overtones/sustain.  Using your recommended setting for head/bridge/gauge one can trust one of these to be a top-performer... However, the earliest of Epiphones remain the best (Cast Base + ring design).  Sadly, none of these early banjo have the reinforced necks unless modified.




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