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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Wm L Lange Paramount Dating Chart (Updated)

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banjotrader - Posted - 05/06/2021:  12:11:44

Updated Paramount Dating Chart:

re: and

It appears I mistakenly had the Paramount Leader date in 1923, but should have been in Q1/Q2 of 1922.

As such this would expect to shift the 1922/1923 lines slightly.  As Mike Westphal points out, we should expect to see a large ramp up in the earliest years.

As for the Dating Chart (obviously rounded the figures, estimated good +/- 1 year):

1921: Unserialized - 100

1922: 101 - 1300

1923: 1301 - 2800

1924: 2801 - 5800

1925: 5801 - 8300

1926: 8301 - 9900

1927: 9901 - 11200

1928: 11201 - 12700

1929: 12701 - 13800

1930: 13801 - 15500 (Accounting for 14xxx SN gap)

1931: 15501 - 15700

1932: 15701 - 15800

Super-Paramounts (The Work of Mike Westfall - Wuzapicker)

1928/1929: 0-99

1929/1930: 100-159

1930/1931: 160-179

1931/1932: 180-229

1932/1933: 230-259

1933/1934: 260-279

1934/1935: 280+

More to the story:

Lange was first and foremost a businessman who dabbled in many things.  He and Rettberg sold Dearborn trucks and then banjos, he was a banking board member/executive, etc.  He supplied numerous boutique makers with sub-brands, patent licenses in the US and abroad, and liked to sue people.  After his 1930s venture into guitars, Lange more/less disappeared; that is if you are looking for him in the music business.  If you look hard enough, you'd have figured out that the Page tuners on his banjos were no mistake.  He and Robert Page were in business together. Mr. Page also happened to be a printing machine manufacturer who simply repurposed his knowledge into another field.  In 1941 Robert Page died, which opened the door for Lange to completely exit the music business and pursue his other businesses fulltime.  He does seem to continue his wood & metal working/pattern business (probably to supply other business partners/ventures) until 1946 out of his Java St location, and permanently moves his printing & manufacturing of printing devices operation to 41 Union Sq W after the sale of the building on E. 24th St (which he never did own) - this business was active until at least 1957.  Lange only had one daughter and was an extremely private individual who never seemed to have his name spoken in the newspapers unless it was business related.

Hope someone finds some interest in all this.


Edited by - banjotrader on 05/08/2021 10:27:35

banjotrader - Posted - 05/06/2021:  12:14:22

Market share was a deep impact to many of the makers in the 1924/1925 landscape. Bacon Banjo, Vega, Epiphone, etc.. were all in the game competing for share of that pie.

beezaboy - Posted - 05/06/2021:  14:35:06

Thanks, Peter. I'm very interested and have saved your chart for future reference. I appreciate your posting your work here as it will help others to date their Paramount banjos.

Bob Smakula - Posted - 05/07/2021:  05:26:45


Like John I am appreciative of your posting the Paramount serial number chart. Now I can be less vague than "1920's Paramount Banjo" when I post them for sale.

I also appreciate the extra history of William Lange. Interesting to know that when the banjo biz tanked in the late 1920's and early 1930's that he went on to other things.

On the Page tuners; Do you have a time line of when the two different models were used on Paramount banjos? The two I am referring to are the die cast "Figure 8" tuners with attachment screws on opposite sides of the gear housing and the ones that look like their housings are machined from brass and have the attachment screws on the same side of the housing.

Thanks for sharing your research with like minded folks.

Bob Smakula

Edited by - Bob Smakula on 05/07/2021 05:29:07

wuzapicker - Posted - 05/07/2021:  16:39:05

Page brass tuners came in two varieties both with the screws on the same side. The earliest appeared in 1922 with the screw holes in a nearly square brass plate. The gear housing was cast, but the mounting plate was brass plate. These were used on Paramount from early 1922 until 1925 when the style Bob shows above appeared. That brass style was used on all models until the pot metal figure eights appeared in late 1926 or early 1927. These changes were cost driven. Page geared pegs are have a 3:1 gear ratio.

Around 1930 Page issued a tuner with a stamped metal gear case. These also were mounted with two screws. I've seen them on some Style Jr. models and other Lange Made banjos.

Page also made tailpieces that were used on Paramount banjos from the beginning to the end. The earliest Belt Buckle style had a weakness in the hinge riveting and many broke. The earliest had covers and thumbscrews for adjustment. Later Page Belt Buckle tailpieces had no cover and used a 1/4" hex bolt for adjustment. These have a slightly heaver build around the hinge rivets.

The Page Window Latch style tailpieces were first issued on Paramount banjos in late 1923 or early 1924. The earliest version were stamped, "Improved Paramount Pat. Pnd'g" . The were offered by Lange to the general public without Paramount branding. These same tailpieces were also used on Orpheum, Langestyle and Lange Made banjos without branding. About 1926 or 27, tooling for the Widow Latch tailpiece changed and the new version was stamped "Paramount Pat. Pnd'g" The border stamping was changed from the earlier check style to a diamond pattern.

Page supplied mutes for Paramount banjos from late 1928 until the end of production. The Paramount Aristocrat Special came with an internal mute that worked similar to Bacon's mute but was operated with an external knob next to the neck that resembles the choke control on a contemporary car. These work quite well. This internal style mute also appeared on Style F and ArtCraft from late 1928 until 1931 when those models ceased production.

A second style Page Mute was issued on Paramount banjos from about 1930. This was a flip-over mute fixed to the tailpiece with a 10/32 screw and designed to clamp to the bridge. These were used on all standard Paramount banjo styles after 1930. I've never seen any branding on these mutes. Many 1930's Paramount tailpieces have the threaded hole, but lack the mute and screw. My trials with this assembly proved quite troublesome. It rattles, and creates wear on ones person or shirt sleeve when disengaged. It seems others would have similar results and removed the mute. I have seen this flip-over mute affixed to two original Super Paramount banjos. I sometimes call this style a "butterfly mute" because of the way it is shaped.

Many but not all Super Paramount Artist Supreme banjos had a special tailpiece-mute that reached up to the bridge with a lever to press the mute against the bridge. I am not whether Page made these or Lange. They are very rare parts to find.

That's enough brain dump from me for a while now!


banjotrader - Posted - 05/08/2021:  10:28:58

Michael, I’ve added an adjustment for 14XXX gap we discussed.

beezaboy - Posted - 05/08/2021:  11:23:28

The amended chart may have a typo.
The yearly serialized Paramount banjo totals in the new chart look like this:
1927 - 1300
1928 - 1500
1929 - 1100
1930 - 1700
1931 - 200
1932 - 100
1930 looks a little high. Seems like at that time Lange was getting his new Super-Paramount banjos out to dealers and those banjos had different serial numbers. When the 14XXX numbers were included in the old chart the total for 1930 was 900 banjos.

beezaboy - Posted - 05/08/2021:  11:55:54

Forget the previous post. I get it now. There will be no 14XXX so the actual number of serialized Paramounts will be 700 for 1930.  Took me a while to figure that out!!  Sorry, not used to seeing really big gaps in consecutive serial numbered banjos.

Edited by - beezaboy on 05/08/2021 12:00:06

G Edward Porgie - Posted - 05/08/2021:  14:25:30

Does anyone know when the Page "E" tuners were introduced?

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