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Bacon & Day Montana Silverbell # 1 Tenor Banjo (1926)
Bacon & Day Montana Silverbell # 1 Model Tenor Banjo (1926), made in Groton CT, serial # 20027, natural blonde and ivoroid finish, white holly neck and resonator, laminated maple rim, original black hard shell case.
This banjo is a fairly early example of one of Bacon & Day's crowning creations: the Montana Silver Bell. This is the model that introduced the signature design element of engraved and painted celluloid to the Bacon line, which became one of the classic B&D trademarks. The model originated as a unique signature instrument for early 1920s cowboy entertainer "Montana," but by the mid-1920s was expanded into a full line with several distinct models, all in the white holly and ivoroid livery he favored. While all Silver Ball banjos are fancy, the Montana models with their unique white celluloid décor are distinctive even by Bacon standards.
This banjo is the #1 style, the lowest of the Montana line but still an flamboyantly flashy instrument. It carries standard the 1920s B&D features including the distinctive "F-hole" flange mounted on the low set resonator and the smaller peghead characteristic of '20s Bacons. The Montana decorative package includes elaborate engraving in the ivoroid headstock, fingerboard, and heelcap, painted in with a deep red and delicate concentric rings on the resonator back.
The tuners are original Planets with ivoroid buttons and the tailpiece is the individually adjustable 4-claw Oettinger. The patented B&D mute pedal is present and working perfectly, allowing both the intended quick muting and the characteristic "wah-wah" effect often employed by Roy Smeck, a longtime Silverbell endorser. The market for such fancy tenor banjos was roaring in the late 1920s, but the Montana models are still far from common. The B&D Silver Bell is generally considered to be one of the finest tenor banjos ever created as well as the flashiest, and this is a great-sounding and lovely-looking example.
Overall length is 34 in. (86.4 cm.), 11 in. (27.9 cm.) diameter head, and 3 7/8 in. (9.8 cm.) in depth, measured at side of rim. Scale length is 23 in. (584 mm.). Width of nut is 1 1/8 in. (29 mm.).
This is a very nicely original banjo; the sole alteration visible is a very old, clear overspray on the back of the neck. There is some finish wear and staining that is visible beneath this clear coat, and a couple of spots are worn through again. Apart from this the banjo does not show a lot of wear. Some of the paintwork on the engraved celluloid fingerboard is worn away as is common with these. All hardware is original, the plating is mostly quite clean, and the instrument is set up with a very good-sounding skin head and an original period Bacon bridge. Includes the original HSC. Excellent Condition.
Item # 8079
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