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Elite Tailpiece - PAT May 2, '99

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Jul 15, 2022 - 1:08:58 PM
5194 posts since 3/22/2008

I am am sort of an Orpheum banjo guy.
In May 1903 R&L acquired the rights to the Elite tailpiece from inventor C.S. DeLano. Thereafter R&L put Elite tailpieces on their Orpheum banjos.
I never paid any attention to C.S. DeLano's Elite tailpieces, if any. I don't even know if DeLano even made or marketed them before selling the rights to R&L. I was photographing an old Elite tailpiece today and for the first time (I think) I noticed a patent stamp on the back of this Elite tailpiece. It read PAT May 2, '99. What do I have here?? Is it an original C.S. DeLano Elite made before he sold the rights to R&L. Is this the holy grail of Elite tailpieces!? Photos attached to whet your appetites.


Jul 15, 2022 - 1:38:57 PM

935 posts since 5/31/2004

John, I believe I have had at least one example of this tailpiece stamped with that patent date in the past. I never gave a thought as to whether they were pre-Orpheum until now.

Jul 15, 2022 - 3:12:30 PM

rmcdow

USA

1203 posts since 11/8/2014

Here is a bit more info to throw in the mix. the Elite tailpiece was first patented in 1895 by Edward Jacoby, and half of it assigned to C. S. Delano. Here is a photo of one I have with the 1895 patent date stamped on it.


Jul 15, 2022 - 3:54:18 PM

5194 posts since 3/22/2008

Rives - Well, you sure popped my balloon. So much for my holy grail Elite. Good information about Elite tailpieces, though. It is banjo stuff like this that can turn a brain to mush.

Jul 15, 2022 - 4:26:37 PM

rmcdow

USA

1203 posts since 11/8/2014

quote:
Originally posted by beezaboy

Rives - Well, you sure popped my balloon. So much for my holy grail Elite. Good information about Elite tailpieces, though. It is banjo stuff like this that can turn a brain to mush.


Sorry about that:<). Here are the patents.


Jul 15, 2022 - 4:30:15 PM

DSmoke

USA

1241 posts since 11/30/2015

John, good eye, and thanks for bringing it to our attention. The Elites from Oprheums that I have pictures of have not had the patent date on the inside.

Jul 15, 2022 - 5:40:23 PM

rmcdow

USA

1203 posts since 11/8/2014

quote:
Originally posted by beezaboy

Rives - Well, you sure popped my balloon. So much for my holy grail Elite. Good information about Elite tailpieces, though. It is banjo stuff like this that can turn a brain to mush.


Well John, I've looked at images of five Elite tailpieces that show the date on the back, and all of them are the 99 date.  Maybe it is possible that the one I have is the holy grail Elite:<)?

Jul 15, 2022 - 5:52:32 PM

7094 posts since 9/21/2007

A couple of adverts for both patterns below.


Jul 17, 2022 - 2:06:24 PM

9999 posts since 8/28/2013

There are two thing here that I find odd. One is that Rive's tailpiece appears to have its date over stamped, or at least had a different stamp used for the "95." The other oddity is that the two designs are so similar, that it strikes me as a little odd that DeLano was able to get a patent. Despite using posts instead of the tabs jacoby indicated, the designs are basically the same. (I also note that Rive's tailpiece, although supposedly from 1895 uses the DeLano posts.

Jul 20, 2022 - 10:41:24 AM

rmcdow

USA

1203 posts since 11/8/2014

quote:
Originally posted by G Edward Porgie

There are two thing here that I find odd. One is that Rive's tailpiece appears to have its date over stamped, or at least had a different stamp used for the "95." The other oddity is that the two designs are so similar, that it strikes me as a little odd that DeLano was able to get a patent. Despite using posts instead of the tabs jacoby indicated, the designs are basically the same. (I also note that Rive's tailpiece, although supposedly from 1895 uses the DeLano posts.


It appears to me that the tailpiece I have with the 1895 stamp matches pretty well with the Jacoby patent drawings, and the tailpiece that John pictured matches pretty well with the De Lano patent drawings.  The one I have doesn't have an over stamp on the patent date, it is just a bit rusted.  I would say that the patent office would allow De Lano's patent to be registered as an improvement over Jacoby's patent, even as small of an improvement as it is.  The claims De Lano makes do describe several differences over the claims that Jacoby makes.  This is enough for a new patent, and is actually what the patent office in the US was originally set up to encourage.  There are two sets of posts, upper and lower, on John's tailpiece.  The one I have only has one set of posts, the upper ones vertical to the drumhead.  The lower set where the strings would be connected are just metal tabs cut or stamped out on the lower edge of the tailpiece, and I imagine would do more damage to gut strings and possibly the other strings in use at that time.   

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Jul 20, 2022 - 6:47:21 PM

9999 posts since 8/28/2013

Sorry, Rives, I didn't notice the tabs when I first looked.

Posts may have been easier on strings, but I've seen quite a few Elites with missing posts. That may have been sloppy manufacturing, though, rather than bad design.

Jul 20, 2022 - 6:56:51 PM

7094 posts since 9/21/2007

G Edward Porgie , I think it has more to do with wire strings pulling them off than anything. I've even seen them crushed against the hoop by wire string tension.

If the tension is correctly spread between two posts, one to attach the string then wrapped around the upper, using the intended string sizes, I think the manufacturing and material is sufficient.

I believe that even the thick polyester strings could pull the posts off if only tied around the bottom.

Jul 21, 2022 - 5:31:19 AM

9999 posts since 8/28/2013

I'll grant the "steel string" argument with one proviso. Elites were used on many, many, Orpheum tenor banjos (steel strings) which are okay to this day. I would guess maybe the breakage was "steel, plus poor quality control."

Jul 21, 2022 - 2:50:22 PM

rmcdow

USA

1203 posts since 11/8/2014

Curiosity got the best of me, and I pulled out the Orpheum #3 I have. It has an Elite tailpiece with no patent stamp, two rows of posts in the De Lano style. The posts are all a bit different from each other in small ways, leading me to believe they were turned without a template or guide on the tool post. Five of them out of 10 are a bit loose, the riveted back is not having them flush down with the tailpiece body. I think poor QC is likely the reason some of these lose their posts.

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