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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: The Bacon Professional Banjo. New Information!!


Please note this is an archived topic, so it is locked and unable to be replied to. You may, however, start a new topic and refer to this topic with a link: http://www.banjohangout.org/archive/282142

beezaboy - Posted - 03/26/2014:  11:48:17


The Bacon Professional Banjo made its debut in September 1905.



In the initial thread about this topic we learned that Frederick J. Bacon did not personally manufacture his Bacon Professional banjos.  Initially they were made by Fairbanks/Vega in their Boston banjo factory from ca 1905 to about 1910 when they apparently stopped.   Thereafter, Bacon Professional banjos were made by Wm. L. Lange in his factory (Rettberg & Lange) in New York City.  Ultimately, Mr. Bacon established his own banjo factory.



banjohangout.org/topic/281846/1



We have been focusing on the manufacturer change from Fairbanks to Lange.



Here is what has developed so far (with attachments):



Ex #1 - F.J. Bacon was a concert and vaudeville banjo artist.  During the winter vaudeville season 1910/1911 Mr. Bacon asserted that he played a simple Bacon Professional #2 ($55) on the vaudeville circuit.  Current wisdom would indicate that this Bacon #2 was a Fairbanks/Vega product and there does not appear to have been any significant changes in the product over the 5-year period 1905-1910.



Ex. #2 - Suddenly in Sept. 1911 - Mr. Bacon announced "The New Bacon 'Special' ($85) that he would be playing during the winter vaudeville season.  This is the first "new" Bacon Professional banjo announced in The Cadenza magazine.  Could this be the first Lange-made Bacon Professional banjo?  Perhaps.  Mr. Bacon certainly wasn't making banjos at this time as he was in the midst of the famous "Big Trio" tour  (1911-1912).



Ex. #3.  February 1912 - The first image of the "Bacon Special" shown in The Cadenza magazine.



Ex. #4 - May 1912 - "Two factories now making 'Bacon' Banjos..."



This may be our "evidence" that the change from Fairbanks/Vega to Wm. L. Lange as maker of The Bacon Professional Banjos occurred in about mid-1912 and there was some overlap during the change-over.  A little editorializing - two factories to meet increasing demand appears to be hyperbole as interest and demand for 5-string banjos was rapidly descending by 1912.



What do you think??



 



 



Edited by - beezaboy on 03/26/2014 11:57:30

esmic - Posted - 03/27/2014:  05:29:07


John All very interesting, but I think your conclusions are premature. You should search the Hangout forum archives. Ed Britt is very knowledgeable about this topic and has posted discussions over the years which should help you. I seem to recall that in at least one he  mentions that after the Vega contract, there was a  period where Bacon had his own rather crude operation, building what Ed described as "axe-handle" banjos  and/or assembling necks and rims made by others.


NYCJazz - Posted - 03/27/2014:  11:58:45


I see that by #3 in 1912, Bacon had sales agents across the country.


beezaboy - Posted - 03/27/2014:  12:18:42


Shawn - Thanks for your call for caution and reference to Ed Britt.



Ed has written that the early Bacon Professional Banjo makers were: (1) Vega ca 1905 - 1910?; NY School-made/Lange-made ca 1910/1912 - 1915;  NY School-made/Forest-Dale-made - ca 1915? - 1920.  Ed has stated that the teens models are "problematic" from a maker standpoint.



I have been trying, among other things, to find clues regarding the teens makers of The Bacon Professional banjos.



The above posted clues culminating in the "two factories" advertisement are consistent with Ed Britt's parameters.  What is significant here is that Mr. Bacon wrote his own advertising copy so we are reading the Bacon Professional Banjo story as told in Mr. Bacon's own words.



According to Ed Britt the axe Forest Dale banjos were not produced until around 1915.  The clues I have posted are for the period Sept 1911 thru May 1912 - the period that Lange is credited with making Bacon's banjos (or some of them).


beezaboy - Posted - 03/27/2014:  12:36:34


Frederick J. Bacon and the Tenor Banjo.



An interesting series from 1914 (attached).



In July 1914 the Bacon's advertised for Banjo Boarders (my words...see ad).



Apparently the ad generated some participants.  On August 7, 1914 a banjo concert occurred in the Bacon's Forest Dale backyard with the Banjo Boarders joining in.  Mrs. Rogers performed on the "Tenor Banjo" (presumably the 4-string variety as S.S. Stewart's 5-string invention 20 years earlier did not generate much interest).  And, someone even brought their Tenor Mandola Banjo (8 strings -CGDA).



This scrawny 4-string banjo may have piqued Mr. bacon's interest for by December 1914 he was offering both up-start banjos in his stable of "Bacon" banjos.


beezaboy - Posted - 03/27/2014:  12:43:46


Nathan -



From a reading of the magazines month by month I get the impression that Bacon Professional Banjo sales were somewhat steady but not remarkable when compared to a company like Vega with its Whyte Laydie, Tubaphone and other models.  Bacon's double rim may have been an acquired taste back then?


beezaboy - Posted - 03/27/2014:  17:11:25


I found a snippet in The Music Trade Review online at MTR 1913 57 6 (43) [Aug. 9, 1913] which reads in toto:



"The banjo factory of F.J. Bacon, of Forestdale, VT., is being enlarged".



Maybe the "two factories" ad (May 1912) refers to Forest Dale (a/k/a Forestdale) and New York (Lange).



I just cannot believe the Bacon Special ($85), Bacon Grand Concert ($100), Bacon Special Grand Concert ($125) of 1913/1914 (see catalog) were being built in a little house in Fred and Cassie's backyard in Forest Dale, Vt.



Maybe Forest Dale is where the Bacon Professional #1 ($40) and #2 ($55) banjos were assembled??


Andy FitzGibbon - Posted - 03/27/2014:  19:12:24


All of the "axe handle" Bacons I have worked on have had crudely-made necks that definitely looked like they could have been made in the little building behind Fred's house.  The rims on those instruments were much higher quality, and appeared to have been made by Vega, or maybe by Lange, but not by whoever was making the necks.  All have been lower-grade "Professional" instruments.



Andy


beezaboy - Posted - 03/28/2014:  08:56:02


Andy -



Thanks for your insight.  Very helpful.  Really.



Attached is a photo (courtesy of Am. Banjo Museum and article written by Paul Heller) of the little Forest Dale house referred to above.  This "factory" may not have even been on the Bacon "Stonehurst" property.  It may have been somewhere else in "town".  The photo is thought to be circa 1910.



The Bacon Professional Banjo and (or from) the  "Forestdale" address begins in Bacon advertisements in March 1907.  Before that Bacon Professional Banjos had a Warrenton, Conn. address.



The Bacon's completed their Forest Dale house and barn in September 1907.



So, with what we know now it seems certain that there was a Forest Dale facility from 1907 forward.  What exactly was occurring in the facility will require some more research.  One thing for sure - Forest Dale was the place listed in Bacon advertising for Bacon banjo orders (mail...telegram...etc).  There had to be someone (other than the Bacon's) present in Forest Dale receiving orders for banjos because Mr. and Mrs. Bacon were frequently traveling about the country performing their vaudeville and concert acts during the period 1906-1911.  Bacon toured cross-country with The Big Trio 1911-1912.  Bacon, it seems, was rarely home.  Somebody was holding the fort. 


Polle Flaunoe - Posted - 03/29/2014:  00:26:36


quote:

Originally posted by Andy FitzGibbon

All of the "axe handle" Bacons I have worked on have had crudely-made necks that definitely looked like they could have been made in the little building behind Fred's house.  The rims on those instruments were much higher quality, and appeared to have been made by Vega, or maybe by Lange, but not by whoever was making the necks.  All have been lower-grade "Professional" instruments.







Andy,



Can you recall - did the "axe handle" examples passing your hands have serial numbers?  Or did some have - and some not?



 



Gents,



Do have a look at the Pre-Groton´s in my general database - acoustudio.dk/BD_and_Bacon_database.html - recently Shawn has given me great help getting the 1905-11 Vega´s named correctly plus provided some new entries.



Afterwards I´ve for now hidden one very disturbing entry from Carl´s DB - SN 1610 - a mistake maybe - I´ve done plenty of these myself in the past - and so have other data collectors. Or it could be a mis-stamping - I´ve seen many of these during the Groton era.



Do notice how nice the DB now looks - after the first appr. 700 Vega´s it seems, that appr. 200 banjos in the 1XXX SN sequence plus appr. 100 banjos in the 2XXX SN sequence were built at the same time - 1911-15 or so - very likely by Vega and Lange - or vice versa - each using their own sequence.



Do btw. notice, that I have a confirmed 1915 dating for one of the last examples in the 2XXX sequence.



At the end I have number of banjos without a serial number - very likely built 1915-20 - or what?



I do myself know very little about the early Bacon´s - the B&D´s first of all is my field of interest.



So - I´ll very much welcome any infos, that can either expand this picture or correct it.



Polle



Edited by - Polle Flaunoe on 03/29/2014 00:38:19

Polle Flaunoe - Posted - 03/29/2014:  02:44:57


PS!



I´ll of course also welcome new entries - both Pre-Groton, Groton and Post-Groton - if possible with many detailed infos - besides the general DB as published I´m keeping an extended DB with a lot of construction and design details, various features, dating infos and an additional picture and documentation archive.



I´m using all of this for my research of the Bacon/B&D history and the development of the various models and styles.



If wanted - I´ll of course keep your identity secret - f.ex. by putting myself in as the reference/reporter for your entries.



Thanks in advance.


beezaboy - Posted - 03/29/2014:  06:19:59


Another clue.  This one is a "corker" (a term use by a Bacon banjo endorser to describe his new Bacon banjo).



Cadenza October 1913 - Bacon announced "new catalog" with front & back views of the new Special Grand Concert.



Scans attached:



1.  Cadenza November 1913 - Bacon Special Grand Concert banjo unveiled.



2.  Cadenza November 1913 - Bacon Special Grand Concert banjo tailpiece close-up. (the 1913 catalog identifies the tailpiece as a Bacon-Kershner).



3.  Vega Banjos Catalog ca. 1910 - 1912 -  Vega DeLuxe Tubaphone Banjo tailpiece close-up. (the 1910-1912 Vega catalog describes the tailpiece as "Sure-Grip and Unique tail-piece")



The Bacon Special Grand Concert has 24 frets.



Vega made special order Plectrum-Five banjos for Brent Hayes with (I'm pretty sure) 24 frets.



Hypothesis -



(A) The May 1912 "two factories" statement means Vega Sudbury Street factory and Forest Dale little house factory.



(B) Vega made the Bacon Special Concert Banjos.



BTW - I noticed a short line in Paul Heller's Fred Bacon article that suggested that the Forest Dale little house factory was not situated on the Bacon's Stonehurst property.


carlb - Posted - 03/29/2014:  07:03:10


In the database that I've been maintaining, there are quite a few Special Grand Concerts without serial numbers that were made in Forest Dale. I have pictures of only one of these. The earliest Special Grand Concert with a serial number that I have pictures of and was made in Forest Dale is #2028. Polle has in his database #1610 and I have #1194 neither with pictures nor places where they were made. (Polle has noted #1140 as a Special Grand Concert incorrectly as it's listed only as a Grand Concert).



So does that mean that no Special Grand Concerts were made before 1913 and that the early ones had no serial numbers even though other style Bacon banjo did have serial numbers?



sugarinthegourd.com/BaconProfe...alBanjos/


Andy FitzGibbon - Posted - 03/29/2014:  07:33:11


quote:

Originally posted by Polle Flaunoe

quote:


Originally posted by Andy FitzGibbon

All of the "axe handle" Bacons I have worked on have had crudely-made necks that definitely looked like they could have been made in the little building behind Fred's house.  The rims on those instruments were much higher quality, and appeared to have been made by Vega, or maybe by Lange, but not by whoever was making the necks.  All have been lower-grade "Professional" instruments.








Andy,




Can you recall - did the "axe handle" examples passing your hands have serial numbers?  Or did some have - and some not?




 


 




 



The most recent two did.  Others I can't recall.  I may have written one or both of the latest numbers down somewhere.  I'll check.



Andy


Polle Flaunoe - Posted - 03/29/2014:  08:13:06


Andy - thanks - please do come up with any additional infos at hand.



Carl - I´ll correct the SN 1140 model name.   As for SN 1610 - this example seems totally out of line - maybe it was mis-stamped - as often noticed for the Groton banjos - maybe the correct SN should be 1160?



As for the "Forest Dale" examples - were these in fact built there?  Or were they f.ex. only assembled there and got the metal tag during the assembly?



I´m looking for further infos to pop up - our dear Ed Britt will most likely be able putting this topic/picture straight - I hope, that he´ll chime in.



Polle


beezaboy - Posted - 03/29/2014:  08:15:15


The first Cadenza mention of Bacon Special Grand Concert was October 1913.



The first Cadenza mention of Bacon Grand Concert was November 1912 (attached).  But notice letter from Otis Mitchell dated Sept. 11, 1912 acknowledging receipt of a Grand Concert so Bacon was selling them at least a few months before getting his ad into The Cadenza.



Therefore, the Special Grand Concert could have been extant and available a few months before October 1913.



BTW - the workmanship on these two banjos do not suggest that they were made in the little house factory in Forest Dale.  Furthermore, Bacon published numerous buyer testimonials (many teachers and performers) for the $100 Grand Concert banjos so I suspect the fit and finish was more than satisfactory.


Polle Flaunoe - Posted - 03/29/2014:  10:17:48


John,



I´m so glad, that you did put up this thread - I hope, that you and others will continue carpet bombarding it with all sorts of infos - don´t sort them for now - at the end I take, that we all can get to and agree on a certain order - many "early Bacon banjo" fans have longed for this order for many years, I sense.



If lucky we can maybe get the Pre-Groton´s sorted this way - now - the Groton´s are already sorted - afterwards we´ll come the Post-Groton´s - as also put up for discussion by you lately - I have some/many comments ready for you - but let us concentrate on the Pre-Groton´s for now.



laugh 



Polle


carlb - Posted - 03/29/2014:  14:18:57


quote:

Originally posted by Polle FlaunoeAs for SN 1610 - this example seems totally out of line - maybe it was mis-stamped - as often noticed for the Groton banjos - maybe the correct SN should be 1160?




Polle,

As far as SN 1610, its addition to the database appears to be before the additions I've made and thus might have come from the original sheets collected by Bob Carlin many, many years ago.

Carl


beezaboy - Posted - 03/30/2014:  18:31:44


Update through 1921:



I guess I've come as far as everyone else who has tried to follow the Frederick J. Bacon saga.



In or about January 1915 Fred and Cassie moved from Forest Dale to New London, Conn.



In April 1915 Fred started his own magazine named "The Banjoist" from address Plant Bldg, New London, Conn.



Thereafter, Bacon disappeared from the pages of The Cadenza.  I mean poof -- gone!  There was a grudging reference to the fact that Fred played the Guild Convention and exhibited his banjos there in April 1916 but that was it.  No references to Fred Bacon from Apr. 1916 through 1921.



I do not have any "The Banjoist" magazines (there is one copy at the Missouri History Museum in St. Louis - v.1, n.1).



My collection of The Crescendo magazines is limited.  But I did learn:  (1) July 1918 - Cassie has learned the Irish Harp and is giving lessons;  July 1918 - Fred Bacon advertising "Bacon Professional Banjos" from Plant Building, New London;  Aug 1918 - Bacon Banjo Mfg. Co. offering Bacon Banjos from New London.



Then Bang!  Bacon is back!! (in The Crescendo not The Cadenza).  Sept. 1920 "The Bacon" in script.  Send for catalog of NEW "Bacon" instruments from the new "Bacon" plant in Groton, Conn.; Oct. 1920 a new line of banjos;  Nov 1920 Bacon Professional Banjos and open back Bacon Orchestra banjos (loud, snappy tone for dance orchestras);  Dec 1920 #1 Orchestra $55 - #2 Orchestra $65;  Nov 1921 full page ad for The Bacon Style C - Orchestra - #3 Professional.



Jumping ahead - April 1922 full page ad for new Bacon Blue Ribbon Orchestra Banjos Style A $100 Style A1 $150 fitted with amplifier  (grommets showing in image).



So, as far as my resources Bacon went silent 1916-1920.  We don't know when Forest Dale factory closed.  We don't know what kind of banjos Bacon was "making" or selling while he was in New London before Groton during this time frame.  He and Cassie stopped Vaudeville touring during this time except for a local concert now and then.



So because of the gap I have no more clues to help with the Vega-made or Rettberg & Lange-made or the Forest Dale-made Bacon Professional, Grand Concert and Special Grand Concert banjos.



I feel like the guy in the attached classified ad from 1921 (not the Studebaker...I wouldn't sell that!).




June 20, 1921 -The Herald - Klamath Falls, Ore.

   

NYCJazz - Posted - 03/30/2014:  19:10:35


John



Are you aware that New London and Groton are pretty much the same area?... Groton is on the north bank of the Thames and New London is on the south side.



devil


beezaboy - Posted - 03/31/2014:  04:43:09


Nathan -



Thanks.  I knew that the cities of New London and Groton Conn. were separated by the Thames River.



But it appears that Bacon was "making" and selling banjos from New London from 1916 forward and before the Groton factory came into existence.  Attached is a The Crescendo ad from August 1918.  I just don't have a complete run of The Crescendo magazines to follow the trail (if any) 1916-1920.



The Groton factory did not open until January 1920 according to this article in The Music Trade Review:



mtr.arcade-museum.com/MTR-1921-73-13/48/


beezaboy - Posted - 04/04/2014:  11:08:50


The goings-on in the Bacon Forest Dale banjo facility over the years is intriguing.  No?



What did the individual(s) manning the facility do and when?



From what I've seen it seems that the role of the facility evolved from a "distribution facility" in the beginning to a more active finishing and then limited manufacturing facility as time progressed.



When did the facility close?  Did it remain active right up until the opening of the Groton facility?



Here are some facts:



A Forest Dale presence for Bacon banjos began in 1907 even before Bacon moved there.



Fred Bacon and spouse lived in Forest Dale 1907 - 1914.



In January 1915 they moved to New London, Conn.



The December 1914 Cadenza ad lists Forest Dale as the address for the Bacon banjo firm.(attached).



By April 1915 Bacon was advertising for banjo students from Rm 219 Plant Building, New London, Ct. (attached)



In May 1915 Bacon's ad for his new magazine (The Banjoist) lists his address as Plant Bldg. New London, Ct. (attached)



And (thanks Steve Senerchia) the October 1915 issue of The Banjoist (attached) shows that Bacon was still selling "Bacon" and "Bacon Grand Concert" banjos despite his move to New London.



Certainly, Bacon was not building or assembling banjos from his office suite in the Plant Building.  The Plant Building was an office building not a manufacturing facility.



So, (to repeat) what was going on in the Bacon Forest Dale facility 1907 - 1914 and then 1915 - ?



It would be helpful to know when (or at what serial number) Bacon began attaching the Forest Dale celluloid dowel tags to his banjos and when (or at what serial number) the tags were discontinued.



This might give us some clues as to the role of the Forest Dale facility over time.



 



 



 



A co



 



Edited by - beezaboy on 04/04/2014 11:19:08

beezaboy - Posted - 04/05/2014:  03:50:02


Musing:



Looking into Fred Bacon's New London activities in 1915 I've noticed that he was (1) Assembling, writing for, publishing, and sending a monthly magazine; (2) Composing and copyrighting banjo arrangements; (3) Giving banjo lessons; (4) occasionally performing locally; (5) Manufacturing and selling banjos.



It is about 220 miles from New London, Ct. to Forest Dale, Vt.  That probably entailed a day travel up and a day travel back each time Bacon visited the Forest Dale facility.



So, Bacon must have had a supervisor overseeing the day-to-day operations of the Forest Dale "factory" 1915 to ?



I guess this person(s) identity and story has been lost to the passage of time.  I have not seen a single period article that discusses the people in or function of the Forest Dale, Vermont Bacon banjo factory.


esmic - Posted - 04/05/2014:  06:49:53


Looks like your Bacon journey down the Forest Dale/New London printed path is nearing its end. 



Further progress likely requires observing and recording detailed info on as many Bacon instruments of the period as possible. You should consider an effort to pool information from the two or three best available resources (Britt, Baron, Flaunoe), noting that in an overview by a fresh pair of inquisitive eyes, some meaningful findings might emerge that have so far gone unnoticed.


NYCJazz - Posted - 04/05/2014:  07:46:18


I notice Bacon was selling "banjo-mandolas" which I assume is an 8-string tenor.



Anyone see any of those today?



devil


Polle Flaunoe - Posted - 04/05/2014:  08:07:49


quote:

Originally posted by beezaboy

It is about 220 miles from New London, Ct. to Forest Dale, Vt.  That probably entailed a day travel up and a day travel back each time Bacon visited the Forest Dale facility.









big



Edited by - Polle Flaunoe on 04/05/2014 08:09:02

Polle Flaunoe - Posted - 04/06/2014:  00:16:28


PS!



I wonder - when was the first Thames River Bridge built - connecting New London and Groton?  Most likely demolished after the first Goldstar bridge had been finished in 1943.



I´ve searched here and there - without any results - only maybe an indication of the year 1911.



 



PPS!



Another question - so Bacon moved to New London in 1915 - for how long after that did the Forest Dale "works" exist?  Plus - did some of the better "axe handle makers" follow him somewhat later - or did he hire a new and more skilled crew for the new Groton works?  If so - how/where did he find this crew?  Maybe "head-huntet" in N.Y. or Boston?  Any thoughts, Gents?



Edited by - Polle Flaunoe on 04/06/2014 00:31:58

dspainters - Posted - 04/06/2014:  04:38:40


being from new london my dad working on the railroad standing on the thames river draw bridge you could see the old structure of the bridge just the old pylons the 38 hurricane took that out my mom also told me in the winter people would ride there horses and buggy over the ice from new london to groton  thats what i was told any way


Polle Flaunoe - Posted - 04/08/2014:  01:11:13


Dave - am I understanding this correctly - are you telling, that the old road bridge was destroyed by the 1938 hurricane and/or the resulting flooding?



Polle


beezaboy - Posted - 04/09/2014:  09:48:30


New London-Groton Bridge.




   

Polle Flaunoe - Posted - 04/09/2014:  09:56:15


Thanks John!



But was it - as maybe indicated by Dave - destroyed by the hurricane/flooding in 1938?



And if so - how did the locals cross the river in the years 1938-43?



Just curious.



Polle


NYCJazz - Posted - 04/09/2014:  17:32:30


I believe the railroad draw bridge survived the hurricane, so they still had a crossing.



There has been a thriving ferry business out of New London, right near the bridges and the Bacon factory. I know it was active between New London and Groton in the 20's... I'd guess that the ferryboats got a workout between '38 & '43.



devil


NYCJazz - Posted - 04/09/2014:  17:46:02


Hey Polle



Here's something for your auto:



ebay.com/itm/271444838460?ssPa...423.l2649



devil


beezaboy - Posted - 04/11/2014:  18:15:37


A gracious man sent me a copy of the first The Banjoist - April 1915 - published by Fred Bacon.



Attached are scans of the pages that help our research into Bacon's activities during the mid-teens and the status of the Forest Dale facility.



Bacon stated that The Banjoist would be published for one year and thereafter depending on circulation.  Does anyone know when The Banjoist ceased publication?



Bacon's ad recites the "Forestdale" address.  in the October 1915 The Banjoist issue the Plant Bldg. in New London is used in Bacon's banjo ad.



Rettberg & Lange took a full page ad in Bacon's new publication.  There was no ad or mention of Vega.  Now there's a clue!



I think the Bacon saga continues in The Crescendo magazine for 1916 - 1918.  We'll just have to look for opportunities to see.


Joel Hooks - Posted - 04/11/2014:  18:37:45


Hi John, was there any music for the five string in that issue?


beezaboy - Posted - 04/12/2014:  04:48:45


Joel -



Yes.  But no peppy ones.



There is banjo solo  "Sleep, Little One Sleep" (a slumber song - "play sweetly") with some tremoloing (yuk) arranged by Fred Bacon.



Then there is a Mandolin arrangement of "The Dawn of Love: with a 2nd Banjo part in C notation in waltz time.



Then "The Dawn of Love" is done up as a Banjo solo in waltz time  played Andante by Bacon..



Finally, it looks like one page from Bacon's tutorial re; C Notation with a couple of measures of "Turkey in the Straw" I guess for illustration.



[Editorializing a bit - I find Bacon's tremolo a bit ragged.  Really, there is nothing like "plectrum style" for getting that smooth, crisp tremolo.]



John



 


Joel Hooks - Posted - 04/13/2014:  05:06:06


quote:

Originally posted by beezaboy

Joel -




Yes.  But no peppy ones.




There is banjo solo  "Sleep, Little One Sleep" (a slumber song - "play sweetly") with some tremoloing (yuk) arranged by Fred Bacon.




Then there is a Mandolin arrangement of "The Dawn of Love: with a 2nd Banjo part in C notation in waltz time.




Then "The Dawn of Love" is done up as a Banjo solo in waltz time  played Andante by Bacon..




Finally, it looks like one page from Bacon's tutorial re; C Notation with a couple of measures of "Turkey in the Straw" I guess for illustration.




[Editorializing a bit - I find Bacon's tremolo a bit ragged.  Really, there is nothing like "plectrum style" for getting that smooth, crisp tremolo.]




John




 







Oh yeah, I've got a copy of that one.



 



 




Sleep, Little one

   

BrittDLD1 - Posted - 04/13/2014:  12:53:54


quote:
Originally posted by esmic



Further progress likely requires observing and recording detailed info on as many Bacon instruments of the period as possible. You should consider an effort to pool information from the two or three best available resources (Britt, Baron, Flaunoe), noting that in an overview by a fresh pair of inquisitive eyes, some meaningful findings might emerge that have so far gone unnoticed.









John and Shawn --

I've had xeroxes of most of those ads for over 20-25 years. Jim Bollman and Eli Kaufman have extensive collections of those period magazines. I've had direct access to both sources for over 35 years, as well as to some of the specific instruments made by Vega (under David Day's direction) and by the "NYC School" makers. Lange almost certainly made the high-end Bacon Professional banjos from 1912 to 1920.

[NOTE: Be aware that Fred was using wood-engravings (and later, photo-gravure images) from Vega, and Lange, in his ads and catalogs for MANY years -- after those specific models had ceased production. He'd often show only back views during 1919–1921, because his NEW models (introduced at that time) had "Bacon", in script, on the front of the peghead. Let's just say that Fred was a typical 'frugal' Yankee, with his expenditures...]

The low-end banjos seem to have been finished and/or assembled from PARTS made in NYC (probably by Lange... possibly by Gretsch) in either the small Forest Dale workshop, or in Bacon's New London studio/office in The Plant Building. Or, a combination of finishing rough-parts in Forest Dale, and shipping the parts to New London -- for final assembly and set-up. (Which could be easily done in a back-room of Bacon's office/studio.) But the infamous, crudely-made "axe-handle" banjos (usually without serial numbers) were probably produced completely at the Forest Dale shop.

[NOTE: I believe Bacon had a similar arrangement with Vega, from 1905 to 1910. The examples I've seen, of the first 100 Vega-made FF Professionals (made and assembled under David Day's direction) were SUPERB! After that, it's my opinion that Fred had Vega ship the finished necks and rims, then he and/or an assistant assembled them, and did final set-up, at his Hartford studio.]

Just look at the peghead inlay on the Special Grand Concert, in the '1913' Forest Dale Catalog (published AFTER the letter of 9/1/13 from Burt Clark). Lange used the same inlays on some of their banjos. (Yes... most of the inlays were purchased from NYC/NJ-area pearl suppliers, and were also used by other NYC-area makers. Which is why always I 'hedge my bet', and add: "or other NYC-School makers.")

I'm not aware of any 'known' factory documentation from Lange, Gretsch, Oscar Schmidt, etc., about WHO made banjos and the wooden parts for Bacon, during the 'teens. (The metal parts were usually supplied by Waverly or Grover, with Kerschner supplying the extension tailpieces.)

The 'probable' reason so few banjos were made by Bacon in the 'teens -- is that WWI was underway in Europe, and stable sources of raw materials (fine woods, pearl, metal, etc.) were hard to find. WWI began in July 1914. The US didn't enter until April 1917. It ended in 1918 -- "... on the 11th day, of the 11th month, at the 11th minute, of the 11th hour."

(WWI was also almost certainly the reason that Vega 'down-graded' their pearl inlay, on their high-end banjos, during the 'teens. Why Vega didn't UP-grade the inlay again, when the war was over, is subject to a lot of speculation...)

The earliest Groton-made Bacon banjos, particularly the early "Blue Ribbon" models, have a LOT of "Lange/NYC-School" DNA in them: The triangular shape of the necks; the narrow, pointed-heels (with rounded heelcaps); as well as the 'recessed' heel-carvings; the use of white holly; and the use of very ornate pearl, and colorful abalone inlays -- were typical of NYC-School work.

It's my opinion that Fred probably hired a few workers who had experience at some of the better NYC companies.

But David Day quickly changed those details -- after his arrival in Groton, in September of 1922:

. . o The original 6 heel-carving patterns remained the same, but they no longer had the deep recess around them. There were 2 main 'styles' of carving -- which I call "Crest" and "Scallop":

The "Crest"-style had a crest (like a rooster's comb) at the top of the largest scroll, at the base of the heel.

The "Scallop"-style had a set of partial circles, forming a group of pointed scallops, around the interior of the largest scroll. (Looks like someone took a bite out the scroll.)

Each of the 2 styles were done in a SHORT-length form, a MEDIUM-length form, and a LONG-length form -- depending on a combination of: the grade-level of banjo, and the type of neck. (Tenor -- or 5-String/Plectrum.)

. . o After Day's arrival, the shape of the neck became rounder, and the heels became wider -- with a flat, square-edged heelcap (more Fairbanks-esque).

. . o The use of white holly continued, at a limited rate... But the fancy pearl became much more sedate in style -- with less-and-less use of colored abalone.

PRIOR to Day's arrival in Groton, the rims of the Groton-made banjos were NOT stamped with a serial number. (Something which allowed easy swapping of rims and necks -- right up until today.) Day began to stamp the rims with serial numbers, starting somewhere between #6988 (not stamped) and #7096 (rim stamped)

And... Day also added the "Made by... The Bacon Banjo Co. ... Groton..." stamp onto the dowelstick, somewhere between #7437 (NOT stamped) and #7510 (stamped).


[NOTE: It's been almost a decade since I've checked for rim-numbering, and "the Groton stamp" on the dowel -- within those serial ranges...

. . o Any new information on rims 'not numbered', or 'numbered' -- within that #6988-#7096 gap -- is welcome.

. . o Any new information on dowels WITHOUT "the Groton stamp", or WITH "the Groton stamp" -- within that #7437-#7096 gap -- is welcome.]


Best— Ed Britt © 4/2014




PS: Long before there was a bridge, there was a Ferry that went back and forth between New London and Groton. The Ferry dock was about a block or two away from the Groton works. Fred and Dave used to commute, back and forth. (Day and his wife, Annie, lived in apartments in Groton, and in New London, at various times between 1922, and 1940 -- when they moved back to Revere, MA.


PPS: I've got another project, that's time-sensitive -- so I probably won't be able to reply to questions for the next week or two. (And, by that time... everyone will have moved-on to a new topic, anyway... ;-)



Edited by - BrittDLD1 on 04/13/2014 13:06:35

beezaboy - Posted - 04/13/2014:  19:45:25


We're advancing!  Here is something new and exciting!!  Thanks to Shawn, Nathan, Andy, Polle, Carl, and Ed for keeping a fresh breeze in our sails.



The focus recently has been to determine what was occurring in Bacon's Forest Dale (Forestdale), Vermont facility and what role that facility played in the building of Bacon Banjos.



Here is what we know:



August 1905 - Bacon living in Hartford, Conn simultaneously files a patent application for a banjo tone ring (application granted 6/19/1906) and launches the Bacon Professional Banjo with the double rim.  Bacon lists his address as Hartford, Conn. and his banjos bear a Hartford dowel stamp.  Bacon did not manufacture banjos.  Vega manufactured the Bacon Professional Banjos (often referred to as "Bacon F.F." for the stamp on the dowel).



[A published report from Jim Bollman states that Vega built the Bacon Professional banjos from about 1905 to 1912 - see attached.]



Winter 1905 -1906 - Bacon toured locally with the Bacon Banjo Trio but remains close to Hartford.



September 1906 -  June 1907 - Mr. and Mrs. Bacon begin a vaudeville adventure that carries them across country for eight (8) months.  They return to New England in about June 1907.  During the vaudeville adventure Bacon lists his address as Chicago care of a music school there.



March 1907 (meanwhile as the Bacon's tour vaudeville) Bacon Professional Banjos are displayed at Wanamaker's Department Store in connection with the Guild Convention.  Bacon is in Winnipeg, Canada that week.  The Bacon ad for the Bacon Professional Banjo exhibit lists Forestdale address.  This is the first Forestdale.  See attached.  Obviously, Bacon set up a presence in Forestdale before leaving on vaudeville tour and his Forestdale connection managed the Wanamaker exhibit.  In addition, I propose that the Forestdale individual has been receiving from Vega and shipping Bacon Professional Banjos to customers while Bacon was on vaudeville tour winter 1906-1907.  The Bacon's build a home in Forestdale, Vt. September 1907 (called "Stonehurst").



Winter 1907 - 1908 -  Mr. and Mrs. Bacon off on vaudeville tour again.  Home May 1908.



July 1908 - Bacon's company now "The Bacon Mfg and Publishing Co., Forestdale, Vt.".



Winter 1908 - 1909 - Mr. and Mrs. Bacon off on vaudeville tour again.  Touring down South in fall.  In winter with Jake Sternad's Vaudevillians.



Winter 1909 -1910 - Bacon touring.  Bacon Banjos continue from The Bacon Mfg and Pub Co., Forestdale, Vt.



Winter 1910 - 1911 - Bacon touring (and plays Grand Banjo Carnival at Carnegie Music Chamber 11/12/1910).  Bacon Banjos continue from The Bacon Mfg and Pub Co., Forestdale, Vt.



May 1911 - Company name now "Bacon Mfg. Co., Forestdale, Vt."



Winter 1911 - 1912 - Bacon tours USA with "The Big Trio".



May 1912 - Bacon announces that all Bacon Banjos are "made to order" and guarantee delivery to customer within three (3) weeks.



May 1912 - Two Factories now making Bacon Banjos.  Forestdale, Vt.



NEW NEWSlaughlaughlaugh



 C. E. Hewett of Forestdale(?) [See attached Middlebury Register Oct 6, 1911].  Has Mr. Hewett been Bacon's man in Forestdale  March 1907 to May 1912??  Somebody has been receiving from Vega and shipping banjos to customers while Bacon has been touring these last 5 years.  Also, it may have been that the Foresdale facility has been leased and taking on more duties in finishing banjos during the Vega period although I think Vega has been making completely finished Bacon banjos.



BIG NEWSlaughlaughlaugh



We have a name of a Bacon Forestdale banjo maker!!  [See attached Middlebury Register March 29, 1912].  Aren't these little news snippets great!  What makes this fun.



So, in mid-1912 the "two factories" are Rettberg & Lange, New York, N.Y. and Bacon Mfg. Co. Forestdale, Vt.  As per our authorities mentioned above and herein the Rettberg & Lange firm built the high end Bacon banjos and the Forestdale facility made and assembled the Bacon Professional models.



BTW - The Music Trade Review 8/9/1913 reported that the F.J. Bacon banjo factory was being enlarged.  So, maybe more of the build/assembly work was delegated to Forestdale at that time.



 



 



 



 



 



Edited by - beezaboy on 04/13/2014 19:49:11

NYCJazz - Posted - 04/13/2014:  21:20:40


I picked this up just now on ebay.... I believe this shows the Bacon factory building prior to 1910 (from the postmark) off to the left



ebay.com/itm/Groton-Conn-from-...242408514



devil


beezaboy - Posted - 04/14/2014:  08:32:51


Logistics.



Let's say I answered the attached 1910 Bacon Forest Dale advertisement and ordered a Bacon Professional #2 banjo ($55) with check enclosed.  Let's say Mr. and Mrs. Bacon were out west on vaudeville tour when I ordered.  My letter to Bacon Mfg Co would have been received in Forestdale by Bacon's agent (person unknown).  That person would either (1) have a #2 on hand; (2) assemble a #2 from Vega parts on hand; or (3) order a #2 from Vega by mail or telegram.  When the agent had a completed banjo in hand he would package it and go to the Brandon train station and ship it to me.  From a business standpoint I do not believe Vega would ship banjos direct to Bacon customers.  I believe Vega would ship to their customer - namely Bacon Mfg. Co.  If otherwise Vega would have liability exposure to both Bacon and Bacon's customer and also might become embroiled in disputes about the product.



Forestdale (Forest Dale) was a village of Brandon, Vermont.  It is three (3) miles from Forrestdale to Brandon.



Brandon had a rail service and a train station (attached - 1907).



Brandon also had an American Express Agent for exchanging money for property (attached - 1908).



Just musing about Bacon's Bacon Mfg. Co Forestdale presence and the fact that Bacon had an agent(s) there commencing in June 1906 when Fred and Cassie spent their first summer in Forestdale and decided to build a home there.


carlb - Posted - 04/15/2014:  07:02:25


Just to let everyone know, that I think the information in this discussion contains very valuable information on the Bacon Professional banjo. I plan to update the html file at

sugarinthegourd.com/BaconProfe...alBanjos/

to include a link to this discussion. I'm not sure what will happen when this topic is archived, but I have saved the html files for this discussion as well as all the full size photos.



I hope there are no objections from the participants in this discussion.



Edited by - carlb on 04/15/2014 07:05:26

beezaboy - Posted - 04/15/2014:  10:29:04


Carl - Linking okay by me.



Would be interesting to know details about Bacon's Forestdale factory.



Where was it?



Who was managing it?



Who was working there?



What did workers do and what products (if any) did they make from raw materials and what products did they assemble from pre-made parts?



Attached is another tidbit.  I mentioned C. E. Hewett above.  Well, here is Mr. Hewett again partnering with Bacon in a lawn-mower patent application (serial # 791,392 - patent #1,130,283) dated 9/23/1913.    I am speculating that Mr. Hewett had a role in the Forestdale banjo factory.  This application was made near the same time that Bacon was enlarging his banjo factory (July/August 1913).



 


beezaboy - Posted - 05/20/2014:  06:24:33


New information about Fred Bacon and his banjos and banjo manufacturing ca 1910-1920 has not been forthcoming.



However, I came across a very nice piece about The Big Trio (Bacon - Foden - Pettine) which I thought captured its essence.  The attachments are from  a doctoral thesis by John F. Greene entitled William Foden: American Guitarist and Composer submitted 1988.  So, I've attached Greene's section about The Big Trio for your interest.  According to Greene quoting from Foden, it was Bacon that suggested to Foden and Pettine that they form the touring trio right after they played the 1911 Guild convention in Philadelphia.



Also attached is a full page advertisement in The Cadenza Jan 1912.  Goggin was Fred Bacon's associate in a  publishing business and seems to have assisted with managing The Big Trio tour.



I hope you will find Greene's text to be  interesting and enlightening.  I did.




Big Trio - Cadenza Jan 1912


Big Trio 1 - John Greene 1988


Big Trio 2 - John Greene 1988


Big Trio 3 - John Greene 1988


Big Trio 4 - John Greene 1988

   

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