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Jan 15, 2021 - 9:18:16 PM

Rwh56

USA

510 posts since 6/14/2009

An unusual banjo showed up on the Shopgoodwill auction site:

shopgoodwill.com/Item/112984085

Never heard of this name for a banjo. The impression is that it is a stenciled brand. Is there a better known name for this four string banjo?

Jan 16, 2021 - 4:38:22 AM

beegee

USA

22179 posts since 7/6/2005

My best guess is a Ludwig brand labeled for an unknown distributor

Jan 16, 2021 - 5:19:45 AM

2493 posts since 4/7/2010

It is a Leedy, and as Bob mentioned, likely made for a now unknown distributor.

Bob Smakula

Jan 16, 2021 - 11:58:53 AM

4855 posts since 3/22/2008

Better bid and win this Velvetone banjo it may be the only one on the planet Earth.
Once upon a time in 1924 there was a firm named Keach & Greene at 1624 Market Street in Philadelphia. They were in the business of repairing, distributing and manufacturing saxophones. The K&G manufactured saxophone was branded Velvetone. In or about Sept. 1925 Keach & Greene sold out to Jacob Hoffman and Isadore Rakson. The new Market Street Philadelphia owners plotted the introduction of the Velvetone banjo an example of which apparently resides at Goodwill. You can read all about this fascinating and intricate saga attached from the Music Trade Review Sept. 19, 1925, pg. 41. Don't you just love this stuff!


Jan 16, 2021 - 12:17:44 PM

2037 posts since 1/4/2009
Online Now

What is that resonator made of ?

Jan 16, 2021 - 2:33:50 PM

2493 posts since 4/7/2010

beezaboy

John,

Cool that you promptly ID'd the 1925 sellers of the Velvetone banjo line. I still think they were manufactured by Leedy. The peghead shape and top tension tension hoop of the Velvetone are identical to the Leedys in one of my Tsumura Banjo Collection books.

Thanks again for taking the time to help provide history of the more obscure banjo brands.

Bob Smakula

Jan 16, 2021 - 2:39:14 PM

8152 posts since 8/28/2013

quote:
Originally posted by kyleb

What is that resonator made of ?


A lot of Leedy banjos used a celluloid material to cover various parts, including resonators, and I'd guess that is probably the case hear, although I could be wrong.

Whatever it is, it doesn't look to be in great shape, and even in good shape, in my opinion, it's rather ugly. (Maybe it looks better in person.)

This is an interesting banjo, and I've liked the Leedy banjos that I've heard. I'll probably be bidding on this if it doesn't go real high.

Jan 16, 2021 - 3:36:38 PM

841 posts since 5/31/2004

Yes, John, thanks!

Jan 16, 2021 - 3:58:48 PM

DSmoke

USA

937 posts since 11/30/2015

Damn, why must people post here about auctions before they end?

Jan 17, 2021 - 6:47:20 PM

8152 posts since 8/28/2013

quote:
Originally posted by DSmoke

Damn, why must people post here about auctions before they end?


It's obviously done so that someone can outbid you. We all have vendettas against people who' have names starting with "D." devil

Jan 21, 2021 - 12:17:10 PM

4855 posts since 3/22/2008

The Velvetone tenor banjo sold for $102.22.
Quite reasonable for the Up-Side-Down Jenny of the banjo world.

Jan 21, 2021 - 1:05:07 PM

2524 posts since 3/30/2008

I never heard back from Goodwill, when I asked them about the condition of the resonator finish. (It has the look of a surface stripped of it's degraded celluloid covering).

Jan 21, 2021 - 5:49:27 PM

8152 posts since 8/28/2013

The price was, indeed, reasonable even if the resonator wasn't very nice.

I was going to bid, but too many other financial issues were rearing their ugly heads.

Jan 21, 2021 - 6:32:39 PM

jbalch

USA

8748 posts since 11/28/2003

Here is a Leedy I once had - for comparison. Mine had a different type resonator.


Jan 22, 2021 - 4:24:36 AM

4855 posts since 3/22/2008

John - Thank you for the photos of the Leedy Collegian. I have a Leedy Collegian neck and took a peghead grab photo to compare to the Velvetone peghead. Your Collegian photos are great and for comparison purposes I don't see any similarity in the peghead shapes. (Your Leedy and mine vs. the Velvetone peghead)


Jan 22, 2021 - 4:14:36 PM

DSmoke

USA

937 posts since 11/30/2015

quote:
Originally posted by G Edward Porgie

The price was, indeed, reasonable even if the resonator wasn't very nice.

I was going to bid, but too many other financial issues were rearing their ugly heads.


I was planning to bid until it was posted here.  I have enough projects in the shop right now that need my attention. I decided not really knowing what was going on with the resonator that someone else can buy it.  Maybe it was someone here?

Jan 22, 2021 - 4:47:50 PM

2524 posts since 3/30/2008

This was such a unique brand that it would have been worth winning just to study. It was advertised as an in house product, by a company that distributed instruments made by others ? This tenor may be a decent player as an open back, without the unsightly resonator.

Jan 22, 2021 - 4:54:32 PM

8152 posts since 8/28/2013

My concern, even more than the resonator, was whether or not the rest of this was built differently than the regular Leedy banjos. It may have sounded and played differently. I thought that even though Leedy did use two somewhat different resonator designs, this was like none of those I've seen pictured, so it's possible that some other aspects of it were also not the same.

I'd have been willing to find out, but as mentioned, some other financial issues were coming into play and I couldn't risk the dollars on a banjo I don't really need.

Jan 22, 2021 - 5:45:08 PM

4855 posts since 3/22/2008

DSmoke
Yes. I bought it because the banjo was so unique looking and the brand name was intriguing.
More data:
As we know from The Music Trade Review article dated Sept. 19, 1925 (attached above) the firm of Keach & Greene, 1624 Market Street, Philadelphia sold their business to Jacob Hoffman and Isidore Rakson (sic).
Keach & Greene was a saxophone dealer in Philadelphia and had the exclusive agency for the Velvetone saxophone (attached).
According to the MTR article the new owners, Hoffman & Rakson (sic), were to produce a Velvetone banjo "of the firm's own product."
The name of the Keach & Greene successor firm was actually Raskin & Hoffman doing business at the same Philadelphia 1624 Market Street address (attached).
So, within reasonable probability the subject Velvetone banjo is the product of the Philadelphia firm of Raskin & Hoffman ca 1925.
When the banjo arrives I'll take some photos and with your help maybe we can learn more about it.


Jan 22, 2021 - 5:57:04 PM

DSmoke

USA

937 posts since 11/30/2015

beezaboy , I'm glad I didn't bid you up and that it went to someone who will figure out what it is. I knew it was a quality tenor banjo for cheap. Had I known it was from Philly you might had have a fight on your hands, lol.

Jan 23, 2021 - 12:46:18 PM

4855 posts since 3/22/2008

The Velvetone tenor banjo is in.
Attached are some snap shots.
11 1/4" head.
13 1/2" resonator which seems to be made of some type of composite material with a veneer made to look like birds eye maple?
1" fretboard. Yikes. Very skinny.
Please identify the maker of this banjo for the Raskin & Hoffman firm.


Jan 25, 2021 - 8:30:18 AM

4855 posts since 3/22/2008

One more thing before this thread goes to Banjohangout Oblivion -
The Velvetone Armrest.
Photos attached tell the story.
The armrest is affixed to the banjo by two posts that are braised into preexisting holes in the flange. There are three holes in the flange apparently to enable two different placements of the armrest posts to change the the position of the armrest proper as desired by the player. The armrest has two permanently attached cylinders into which the posts fit thereby affixing the armrest to the banjo.
I have never seen anything like this method of attaching an armrest to a banjo.
Based on the totality of cues regarding this pot and tension hoop and armrest attachment scheme (and the fact that no one on BHO has responded with an identification of the maker of this banjo or rim) my working theory is that this Velvetone branded tenor banjo was a one time build made to be a window display in a music store front (such as the Raskin & Hoffman store) placed together with displays of various Velvetone saxophones. My conclusion - IMO this banjo was window dressing.


Edited by - beezaboy on 01/25/2021 08:40:46

Jan 25, 2021 - 10:48:12 AM

2524 posts since 3/30/2008

John, One odd feature of this banjo is the use of the hex head tension rods. I can't see any experienced banjo maker of the time using such an awkward tuning system . (you may be correct that this was a prop or perhaps a prototype that never was in production)

Jan 25, 2021 - 12:56:47 PM

4855 posts since 3/22/2008

The peghead has two small holes at the top and a small rectangular shadow between. Perhaps the neck had a brand or maker's plaque tacked there and it was removed to make way for the "Velvetone" project.

Jan 25, 2021 - 2:19:25 PM

8152 posts since 8/28/2013

Seems like an awful lot of work for a window display. And why would a maker of wind instruments bother with displaying a banjo?

Jan 25, 2021 - 3:48:58 PM

4855 posts since 3/22/2008

@G Edward Porgie
I've read that the saxophone and tenor banjo were a part of the 1920's jazz era dance bands. Perhaps that would be a connection. Anyway, Raskin & Hoffman reported to the Music Trade Review that the firm intended to made a banjo "of the firm's own product" and that pretty much got us started on this tread.

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