The No. 5 is the rarest Silver Bell model in the Bacon & Day line. It was listed in only one catalog, and even then only with a line listing and a price (no illustration). As the ultimate jazz-age banjo collector of all time, Akira Tsumura, points out on page 299 of "A Thousand and One Banjos" the No. 5 Silver Bell has a headstock shape and neck inlays that are completely different from any other B & D models. This No. 5 Plectrum was discovered in San Francisco many years ago and after lots of research the most recent owner was convinced it had been owned by Velma Truett before she was promoting her own line of Trujo banjos (made by Gibson). Gryphon cannot prove this was Velma Truett's Bacon banjo, and that recent owner is no longer with us to share his insights, but one of the only photos of Truett is from a B & D catalog and shows her holding a Silver Bell plectrum. The No. 5 shown here dates from well before the introduction of Trujo models, and the Silver Bell Velma holds in that photo has the same inlay shapes on the neck, and the same ultra-long armrest as shown here, so who knows? B & D Silver Bells have a deep body, the only banjos that were deeper were....you guessed it, Trujo models, as they were even more ideally suited to the low tunings favored and promoted by Velma Truett in her San Francisco and Oakland music studios.
One thing we do know is that this Silverbell plectrum saw a lot of use, as these photos indicate. Yet it was handled carefully, and while there's some finish wear to the back of the neck and wear to both the frets and the fingerboard, the rest of the neck and the resonator are in remarkably good condition (and the neck is quite straight with a good neck angle). The carving on the neck heel and the engraving on the headstock inlays is exceptional. Yes, the gold plating on the metal parts would benefit from replating but since we are selling this banjo for an estate, such restoration will be left to the next owner. (Some of us enjoy the patina that results from time and use, but of course others prefer that vintage instruments look as good as new.) Check the photos carefully, and note the slight bends to edge of the armrest and the condition of the hooks and nuts, etc. The original hardshell case also shows a lot of mileage. Except for some cleaning and set-up, plus a new head, this No. 5 is "as found" when the banjo turned up in a San Francisco music store over thirty years ago. As far as we can determine, all the parts are original with the exception of the head, bridge, and of course the strings.
stock no. 50449
|Model||Silver Bell No.5 Plectrum|