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Sep 27, 2023 - 9:47:53 AM
3 posts since 9/3/2020

I have inherited 2 Dayton Banjo Mandolins made by Charles B. Rauch from Dayton Ohio. I am trying to find out some history and value of them as I am thinking about selling them together. I would appreciate any help as to where I could search for this information. I am attaching photos of these instruments.

Thank you !

Ken Ullery


Sep 27, 2023 - 9:58:54 AM

735 posts since 5/29/2015

Charles B. Rauch started/owned the company. I have seen enough of his instruments to guess that the company made odd-variation instruments as much as standard fretted instruments. The last one I had was a banjo body with a mandocello neck. Not sure what that combination is called. As to value, there probably is little previous sales data to go on.
Typical rules--clean original instruments sell faster for more money than rough instruments. These look nice but are banjo mandolins. They don't sound like wooden mandolins and most mandolin players are too unimaginative to discover their usefulness. I would find similar models of other manufacturers from the same period and price at a similar level.

Sep 27, 2023 - 10:33:12 AM
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2255 posts since 2/9/2007

The Dayton instruments I've seen have all been very well made. Yours are also in remarkably pristine original shape. (I'd like to see a scan of that booklet!)
To reiterate what Rob says, though, there are a lot of good old mandolin banjos out there, but very little music now being played for which they'd be suitable, and only a handful of living players who know how to make one sound like something other than a really lousy mandolin.

Edited by - Dan Gellert on 09/27/2023 10:34:39

Sep 27, 2023 - 1:31:05 PM

5493 posts since 3/22/2008

BanjoHangout has a Dayton group and you might find some useful Dayton information there.

Sep 27, 2023 - 5:33:09 PM
Players Union Member



1342 posts since 11/8/2014

I have a Dayton banjo mandolin, and researched Dayton and Charles B. Rauch about six or seven years ago. At that time there was a website of interested people, and talk about a museum of Dayton instruments. Since that time the website has expired, as Tim (TwoTrax) was not able to give it the attention it needed. The Dayton group has not had a post for about six years.

I accumulated from Tim's website and other sources a list of serial numbers, and some other information about Charles B. Rauch and Dayton. From what I can gather he made just shy of 4000 instruments in all, starting in about 1910 or 1911, and ending sometime around 1938. That averages out to about an instrument every three days, and as there is not a record (that I know of) of dates that the instruments were sold, some extrapolation under the assumption (probably incorrect) can give some kind of idea when your instruments were made. One of the pictures shows a serial number of 3078. That is a late serial number, and is in the list I have, residing in Minnesota. Is the other one by chance either 3145 or 1868? If they are both in the 3000 range, my guess is they were made in the late 30's. The highest number I have in the list is 3192, which leads me to think that it may be that he made shy of 4000 instruments over about 27 years (see below for more on this). I have 132 instruments on the list.

I have shown the banjo mandolin I have (#1723) to several mandolin players, and as was mentioned above, there is not a lot of interest in them, as they are a bit of an odd sound (the one I have has an aluminum head, which is going to sound different than the hide heads on yours). Contact me by PM and I can give you a bit more information and history, as this post is getting long.  Here is the Wayback archive of the website, which has a lot of information.

Edited by - rmcdow on 09/27/2023 17:44:42

Sep 27, 2023 - 6:54:35 PM
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2188 posts since 4/18/2007

I sent you a PM.

Here is something I wrote back in 2011.


Both Two Trax (Tim Canuelle) and I have conducted extensive Federal Census, city directory, and other research for both Dayton, Ohio and Sioux City, IA, regarding the Dayton String Instrument Co. (DSI). The fruits of this research will be published and made for public consumption at some later point.

So far, the research suggests that DSI never moved production from Dayton, Ohio, as previously thought. At this point, the best explanation for the Sioux City connection is that this was a sales department. Cadenza articles from 1923 list Sioux City as a "General Sales Department" for DSI. The closest business found in the Sioux City city directories was Templeman Plectrum Quartette & Mandolin Orchestra (located at 406 4th st, the DSI ad lists the address for the DSI sales department at 404 4th st). This information comes from the 1927 Sioux City city directory.

Chas. B. Rauch, the founder/sole proprietor of DSI was also director of the Dayton Mandolin Orchestra. At the most, it appears that some sales could have went through Sioux City with some possible connection with the Templeman. There is no mention of DSI or Chas. B. Rauch in any city directory in Sioux City. The Dayton city directories show DSI being active as instrument manufacturers until at least 1938. After which time, DSI is listed as a musical instrument dealer. After Rauch died in 1943, his wife is listed with DSI, until at least 1946 as musical instrument dealers.

To recap, there is no evidence to indicate the company moved from Dayton, Ohio and there is significant evidence to show that they did not in fact move.

About the dates- there is a lot of discovery that needs to be done. At this point, we can say that serial number 4 was made during 1911 (the patent was pending). Also, serial number 1000 is around 1922 because we see the shift from the Rauch label to the DSI label. The 1922 Dayton city directory contains the first entry for DSI. In the 1910 census, Rauch is listed as a music teacher, not manufacturer like in the 1920 and 1930 censuses. It appears that Rauch started making instruments as a profession in 1911.

During the 30s, there are references to Chas. B. Rauch as a commercial printer at the same address of his workshop. I would be interested to know what he was printing. I would assume at a minimum, materials related to his business (catalogs, instrument labels, flyers, etc). After 1938, DSI is listed as a dealer not a manufacturer.

The meaning of the serial numbers is something we are in the process of understanding. With our limited examples so far, there are large gaps in the numbers and they seem to pool around certain areas. Our best estimate of Rauch's years of production is 1911-1938, roughly 27 years. We have thus far accounted for a range of serial numbers, that if taken to run consecutively, would indicate that Rauch made an average of 1 instrument every 3 days during this time. Tthis seems like a lot of instruments for a small operation to be putting out. Rauch is also listed as a music teacher during the years of instrument manufacturing. This would seem to suggest that he made less than 1 instrument every 3 days. But this is just speculation.

There is still a lot to learn, but progress is being made.

© 2011 Paul Dolce

Sep 28, 2023 - 6:39:14 AM



12295 posts since 2/7/2008

Banjo Mandolins or in Gibson parlance, Mandolin Banjos, are not popular. Similar ones to yours, usually from the 1920s sell in the $300 range all the time. I paid $150 for mine. It's sad really, you probably couldn't build one for that.

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