Can anyone point me to basic information about these banjos, including models, years made, general quality, etc.? Searches here & on the web mainly get me the one article by Bill Reece and lots of ads for banjos that are (or were) for sale. Are they any good as vintage banjos go? Mainly interested in 5 string rather than the seemingly more common tenor.
Background: My wife was at an indoor flea market and saw a banjo that she thought was pretty. It was tagged "1920's Orpheum". The pot had the standard R&L white tag inside it. The headstock did not say Orpheum on it. I sat & played it a while, sounded pretty decent but not very loud. There were a number of red flags on it, and the price seemed high, so I made no effort to buy it but it did spark my curiosity.
Quite a bit of Orpheum history related in BHO Archived threads. Just search "Orpheum". We have been collecting Orpheum serial numbers here on BHO for about 10 years. Here is one of the latest threads - very revealing:
As a result of the information gained in the referenced thread I cleaned up the first page of our Orpheum serial number list and added the "Manhattan" banjo.
Also attached is a brief history of the firm Rettberg & Lange. This history stops when R&L became Wm. L. Lange though Lange continued to produce Orpheum banjos throughout the 1920's to 1929 but they were primarily tenor banjos that reflected the demand for tenors in those days.
I do not know of any single source directed toward Orpheum banjos their history or construction details.
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