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Bacon Banjos... Groton-Made? Or Gretsch-Made?

Posted by BrittDLD1 on Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Hi as usual... I got carried away on a topic -- and thought the information
that I spewed-forth was worth documenting, here, on my blog.

So, this is adapted, and edited a bit, from BHO Topic:

The discussion was about whether a VERY late B&D Seville banjo was
actually a "Groton-made" banjo-- or a Gretsch-made banjo...

Here's my take:

At #35692, that Seville banjo is now the HIGHEST number I have
documented, so far, for a banjo with a "Groton Stamp." (And my
HIGH "target", for Groton production, has been around #36000
since 2003...)

The engraving machine appears to have been in use, at Bacon,
BEFORE the 1938 Hurricane. The earliest banjo I've documented --
with a machine-engraved peghead -- is a private-labeled "Tatham
Special" #32671. (That's around 1932-33) The machine-engraving
seems to be used on several low-cost private-labeled banjos, made
during the 1930s.

After Bacon serial #7000 (approximately when David Day shows up)
TWO things become important to me:

1. The Serial is stamped on the side of the dowel -- AND also
. . . on the inside of the rim, near the neck clamp.

2. The "Made by the Bacon Co., Inc, ... Groton, Conn., USA " is
. . . stamped onto the dowel.

If a banjo meets BOTH of those criteria, then -- TO ME -- it is an honest-
to-God "Groton-made" banjo. (Even if the final assembly was by Gretsch
 -- across Long Island Sound, in Brooklyn.)

I think the "Groton Stamp" was used as David Day's "stamp of quality.".

The more I see... the more I believe that Gretsch ONLY assembled
banjos, from fully usable parts...from 1938 to 1940.

I just haven't seen any hard evidence, yet, of "partially-finished" parts
being finished, and lacquered by Gretsch -- until AFTER 1940.

Yes, there are Gretsch-made banjos -- probably made during the 1940s
and '50s -- which utilize some Groton-made parts. But usually, like all
Gretsch-made Bacons:
. . . o They are ONLY stamped on the dowel.
. . . o The rim is NOT stamped,
. . . o The "Groton Stamp" is NOT used.

It's pretty obvious that Gretsch restarted the banjo serials at "1" after

IMHO... the Gretsch-made banjos in the #36000+ serial range -- tend
to show construction and design details which are more consistent with
banjos from the late-1950s or the early-1960s.

Remember... VERY FEW banjos were made during WWII -- by ANY
of the companies. Material rations were in effect. I doubt there were
more than maybe 2000 banjos made by Gretsch -- from 1940 to 1946.

SO... MY personal differentiator for determining which is a "Groton-made"
Bacon, and which is NOT -- is the presence of:
. . . o Matching serial numbers, on dowel and rim
. . . o The "Groton Stamp"

I feel these are indicators that the Bacon banjos were assembled under
the supervision of David Day -- even if done after the Hurricane, until 1940.

Ed Britt  4/22/09

1 comment on “Bacon Banjos... Groton-Made? Or Gretsch-Made?”

dbrooks Says:
Wednesday, April 22, 2009 @5:59:49 AM

Thanks for another post with fascinating historical information, Ed.  You have provided some really valuable information about Bacon banjos.

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