Editor's note: There was never a "Bacon & Day Company" nor for that matter a "B & D Banjo Company." It was always called the Fred Bacon Manufacturing Company, or the Bacon Banjo Company, or some variant thereof. The "D" of "B&D" was in fact David L. Day, but his name was never part of the company name. While the bulk of the information contained here is from Ed Britt, I have added a few things, and responsibility for errors is mine. MIH
The "Bacon" and the "B&D" models were numbered consecutively - from Bacon's start in 1906 (#1) to it's sale to Gretsch in 1939/40 (approx. #35,xxx).
|1906 - 1920||The early Bacon banjos, made from 1906 to 1920 were produced for Fred Bacon by several makers, including: Fairbanks-Vega, Wm Lange (Orpheum), and Fred's own workshop - in Forrest Dale, Vt.|
|1913||Earliest reference to Forrest Dale, VT address in catalog. Actual maker at that time is still unknown, although later banjos were probably made or assembled there.|
|1920 - 1940||Serial numbers were at approximately #5xxx - when the Groton, Connecticut works were started in April, 1920.|
|1920||Bacon announced 2 arched top, carved mandolins.|
|1922||David L. Day left Vega and joined the Bacon Banjo Company.|
|1923||Serial numbers were approximately #9xxx - when the Silver Bell was introduced.|
|1930||Ads for the new Sultana model appear stating "available in March."|
|1931||Serial numbers were approximately #29,xxx - when the "new generation" Symphonie, Sultana, and Senorita were introduced.|
|1938||Serial numbers were approximately #35,xxx - when the famous Hurricane of 1938 (Sept), closed the Groton works.|
|1938 - 1940||At first, The Bacon Company contracted with Gretsch to produce banjos for them. There are some transitional instruments made by Gretsch - from late 1938 to early 1940 (probably from existing stock) - which carry Bacon serial numbers, and Bacon stamps.|
|1940||Gretsch purchased the Bacon Banjo Company in early 1940.|
|1940 - 1965||Sometime around 1939 -1940, Gretsch apparently restarted their OWN serial numbers at #1 - on guitars, at least. It's unclear whether the Bacon/B&D banjos were included in this renumbering scheme, at this particular time.|
|1939/40 - 1965||From 1939/40 (#1 - or #001?) to 1965 (approx. #84xxx) Gretsch supposedly numbered all guitars consecutively. My observations suggest that at some point - in the early 1940's - the Bacon banjos also began to conformed to this scheme.|
|1950s/60s||During the "Folk Boom", Gretsch produced a line of 5 string, open back banjos with both regular and extra-long necks. These all had black plastic laminate peghead overlays with "Bacon" in outlined, block letters and a small, metal plate engraved "Bacon Folk Model" tacked below it. These appear to have their own serial numberig scheme.|
|1964/65 - 1970||From around 1964/65 to 1972, Gretsch used a different serial format showing, Month/Year/Production Number (3-4 digits), stamped as follows:|
MYNNN or MYNNNN - (Month = 1-9 - with 3 or 4-digit production number)
MMYNNN or MMYNNNN - (Month =10,11,12 - with 3 or 4-digit production number)
(It's unclear whether the 3-4 digit "production number" is the total production for the Month - or for the Year.)
|1966-67||Gretsch stopped active production of Bacon and B&D banjos, around 1966-67 when Baldwin (Gretsch's parent company, at that time) bought the ODE Company. However, some Bacon/B&D stock was still seen on 1970 price lists.|
|Problems||Due to the various renumbering schemes, there are many Gretsch-made "Bacons" and "B&D's"- with 3-digit, 4-digit, and 5-digit serial numbers - which are often mistakenly identified as being made anywhere from 1910 to 1940.
It's fairly easy to tell a 1910 Bacon Professional, from a 1940's celluloid covered banjo - due to obvious stylistic differences. But it can be very difficult to tell apart some Groton-made Bacons, and B&D's, of the 1930's - from the later, Gretsch-made ones - because the models and certain stylistic details carried over into the Gretsch period. For example, there are some LATE Gretsch-made "Senorita" banjos with numbers in the 3X,XXX range - which were ACTUALLY made in the 1950's and early 1960's - but the serial number also suggests it might be a depression-era, Groton-made "Senorita".
It requires a broad knowledge of the various models, and stylistic details of each period to tell them all apart. (Although, in general - the quality of the Groton-made banjos, is MUCH higher than the Gretsch-made ones.)