Ken Lelen

Ken Lelen
Ken Lelen sings great American ragtime, jazz & swing and performs with vintage acoustic guitars for an authentic, back-in-the day sound.

Saturday, August 22, 2020

Concert Schedule
       A healthy dose of caution, as the threat of covid-19 continued
       through the Spring and Summer, prompted hosts at libraries,
       life-care facilities, social clubs and senior centers to postpone
       their 2020 Vintage Music Concerts. By August, each of these
       concerts were rescheduled for 2021.

       So, now, we'll keep you updated as new dates are confirmed.
       We'll also let you know the safety precautions my hosts have
       prepared for audiences and performers at these concerts.

       I look forward to performing for these groups with great joy.

             Ken


2021 Concerts
Date          Host / Venue           Location                Concert Theme
–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

April  15     Carroll Lutheran Village                         Broadway Mementos
                 Westminster MD
 

May     8     Warren Public Library                            Radio Ramblers
                 Warren Twp NJ  —  WarrenLibrary 


June    5     Bridgewater Public Library                    Folk Song Boomers
                  Bridgewater NJ  —  BridgewaterLibrary

Sept  16     Carroll Lutheran Village                         Hollywood Souvenirs
                 Westminster MD


Nov     6     Harvey-Mitchell Memorial Library           Hollywood Souvenirs
                 Epping NH — EppingLibrary
 
                                                –––––––––––––––––––––––––––

T B A         Westfield Memorial Library                    Speak Easy Jazz
                 Westfield NJ  —  WestfieldLibrary

T B A         South Plainfield Public Library               MidCentury Melodies 
                 South Plainfield NJ  —  SoPlainfieldLibrary
 
T B A         Arbors at Hop Brook                               He Did It His Way
                 Manchester CT

T B A         Wesley Enhanced Living                         In The Mood
                 Doylestown PA

T B A         Linden Public Library                              Folk Song Boomers
                 Linden NJ  —  LindenLibrary 

T B A         Oak Crest                                                Juke Joint Jive
                 Parkville MD

T B A         Westfield Memorial Library                    Great American Cabaret 
                 Westfield NJ  —  WestfieldLibrary 

T B A         Heath Village                                          Moon and Stars and You
                 Hackettstown NJ 

T B A         Bermuda Village                                     Crooners Swingers Idols
                 Advance NC 


T B A         Greendale Club                                        Crooners Swingers Idols
                 Worcester MA 

T B A         Sunapee Coffeehouse                             Vintage Guitar Roadshow
                 Sunapee NH — SunapeeCoffeehouse 


T B A         Agawam Cultural Council                        In The Mood 
                 Agawam MA — AgawamCulturalCouncil


T B A         Springhill                                                Torch Song Embers 
                 Erie PA

–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

© 2020 — Kenneth Lelen — All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Concert Videos

Vintage Music Concerts  &  Song Videos
Performed by Ken Lelen before audiences at libraries,
lifecare communities, music clubs and senior centers.
__________________________________
      © 2020 Kenneth Lelen — All Rights Reserved 


She Did It Her Way - Concert
Program celebrates the lives, careers, romances and hit songs of female
vocalists and recording artists who were popular during the Big Band Era.  


Wednesday, 5 June 2019
Linden Public Library, Linden NJ
www.lindenpl.org — Video by Brad Creanzo
Program performed with four vintage acoustic guitars: 1931 B & J Serenader, 1932 Regal MarvelTone, 1939 B & D Groton 1 and 1940 Gene Autry Round-Up.

–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––



She Did It Her Way - Concert 
Program celebrates the lives, careers, romances and hit songs of female vocalists and recording artists who were popular during the Big Band Era.
 

Saturday, 11 May 2019
Old Bridge Public Library, Old Bridge NJ
www.oldbridgelibrary.org — Video by Mary Granahan
Program performed with four vintage acoustic guitars: 1933 Regal MarvelTone, 1934 Gibson KG-11, 1939 B & D Groton 1 and 1940 Gene Autry Round-Up.

––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 

Hollywood Song Souvenirs - Concert
Program offers tunes made popular and famous once they were heard by millions in Hollywood's hit dramas, zany comedies or romantic comedies.


Wednesday, 13 June 2018
Linden Public Library, Linden NJ
www.lindenpl.org — Video by Brad Creanzo
Program performed with four vintage acoustic guitars: 1931 B & J Serenader, 1932 Regal MarvelTone, 1939 B & D Groton 1, and 1940 Gene Autry Round-Up.

–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

Juke Joint Jive [video link] 
Concert of toe-tappin' tunes popular with teenage rebels in the 1930s and 1940s.



Saturday, 11 March 2017
Old Bridge Library, Old Bridge NJ
www.oldbridgelibrary.org — Video by Mary Granahan
Program performed with five vintage guitars: 1932 Regal MarvelTone, 1933 Regal MarvelTone, 1934 Gibson KG-11, 1936 Gibson L-00, and 1940 Autry Round-Up.

–––––––––

"I’m Beginning To See The Light"
© 1944 by Duke Ellington et. al.


17 November 2010
Holden Senior Center, Holden MA
https://fhcoa.org — Video by Daniel Castro
Ken Lelen performing with 1939 B & D Groton 1 acoustic guitar.

–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

"Ain't Misbehavin'"
© 1929 by Waller + Razaf



27 March 2010 Concert
Bound Brook Library, Bound Brook NJ
https://sbbnj.com/library — Video by Ben Auletta Sr
Ken Lelen performing with 1926 Maurer #493                 
Matt Koch on acoustic bass
 

–––––––––

•  "Had To Be You, Give Anything But Love, You Are My Sunshine[link]
     Bound Brook Library, Bound Brook NJ          27 March 2010 Concert
     Ken Lelen on 1920 Grauso + 1936 Sovereign   Video by Ben Auletta Sr
     Matt Koch on acoustic bass

•  Peach Pickin' Time In Georgia   [link]           © 1932 by Jimmie Rodgers
     Bound Brook Library, Bound Brook NJ          27 March 2010 Concert
     Ken Lelen on 1935 Sovereign OM                    Video by Ben Auletta Sr
     Matt Koch on acoustic bass


–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

•  All Of Me   [link]                                         © 1935 Marks + Simons
     Florham Park Library, Florham Park NJ     8 November 2009 Concert
     Ken Lelen on 1933 Martin OM-18                  Once owned by Carl Sandburg
     Matt Koch on acoustic bass                          Video by William Henderson

•  I'm In The Mood For Love  [link]               © 1935 by Fields + McHugh
     Florham Park Library, Florham Park NJ     8 November 2009 Concert
     Ken Lelen on 1926 Maurer #493                  Video by William Henderson
     Matt Koch on acoustic bass

•  Love Is Just Around The Corner  [link]       © 1934 by Gensler + Robin
     Florham Park Library, Florham Park NJ      8 November 2009 Concert
     Ken Lelen on 1939 B & D Groton 1               Video by William Henderson

•  Tennessee Waltz   [link]                               © 1948 by Stewart + King
     Florham Park Library, Florham Park NJ       8 November 2009 Concert
     Ken Lelen on 1936 Sovereign OM                     Video by William Henderson
     Matt Koch on acoustic bass


–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

•  Ain't Misbehavin'   [link]                                 © 1929 by Waller + Razaf
     Folk Project Minstrel, Morristown NJ         17 July 2009 Concert
     Ken Lelen on 1926 Maurer #493                  Video by Folk Project staff
     Matt Koch on acoustic bass                           

•  Georgia On My Mind   [link]                           © 1930 by Hoagy Carmichael
     Folk Project Minstrel, Morristown NJ         17 July 2009 Concert
     Ken Lelen on 1933 Regal MarvelTone            Video by Folk Project staff
     Matt Koch on acoustic bass

•  Gonna Sit Down, Write Letter  [link]              © 1935 by Alert + Young
     Folk Project Minstrel, Morristown NJ         17 July 2009 Concert
     Ken Lelen on 1933 Regal MarvelTone            Video by Folk Project staff
     Matt Koch on acoustic bass

_____________________________________________
© 2019 — Kenneth Lelen — All Rights Reserved

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Bringing Home a B & D  
Rare. Very Rare. In the last 20 years we found about
40 Bacon & Day instruments among vintage sources.
One-third have a serial #, but we cannot verify dates. 
We should begin collecting and sharing their histories.
_______________________________________ 
        © 2020 Kenneth Lelen — All Rights Reserved
       Sources and Resources at end of this article

See also "Recent B & D Sightings" — posted July 15, 2020

For a brief tick of time in the 1930s Regal Instrument Co of Chicago IL made flattop, archtop and tenor guitars for Bacon Banjo Co. in Groton CT.  Offered   with premium appointments, eccentric embellishments and sold at middle to high price ranges, they were quality guitars in their day.
 
They’re nice guitars today, too, though surviving instruments are rare. Indeed, to date my 20-year survey of guitar dealers, online vendors, websites, auction houses and luthiers found about three dozen Bacon & Day six-string guitars, a pair of tenor guitars and a handful of mandolins.

c. 1937 B & D Senorita
Style S-6 (sn 35052)
We found serial numbers on two-thirds of the extant Bacon & Day guitars, but where are the production records, sales receipts and provenance to verify any build dates? When were they made? Who bought them? Who sold them?

Where are the instrument histories? Who owns them now? Who owned them before? Where did they play? Were the instruments attractive and competitive choices for the buyers of the 1930s? What was a guitar's route through time, hands and households?

We should begin linking serial numbers with provenance. Let's look for receipts, period photos, wholesale bills or personal letters associated with a guitar so we can ascertain build dates and instrument histories.

Such an index would enlighten our view of these fine vintage instruments and build a shareable database for present and future owners, musicians, vintage dealers, museums and collectors. B & D guitars from the 1930s would finally gain the lofty perch they deserve among Golden Era instruments.

Personal quest to play B & D guitars
I've personally examined about 15 Bacon & Day guitars and I'm always eager to learn more about these distinctive instruments. Since 1997 I've owned ten B & D guitars, to use the brand name associated with the firm and its principals, Fred J. Bacon (1871 - 1948) and David L. Day (1865 - 1956). Today, I own two Bacon & Day guitars — c. 1933 Senorita Style S-2 (sn 31570) and c. 1939 Groton No. 1 (no sn).

c. 1933 B & D Senorita Style S-2 (sn 31570)
I may be biased, but this c. 1933 S-2 may be the nicest X-braced mahogany and spruce grand concert guitar built. Purchased in the pandemic lockdown, it has a warm sweet tone, yet its disarming clarity invites you in for flatpicking or fingerpicking.

The mahogany neck has 12 frets to the body and rosewood finger-board with skinny period frets. Built on a 24½-in. scale length, it has a 1¾-in. wide ebony nut and 14½-in. lower bout width.
 
 Like many B & D guitars, its most notable elements are likely the dusky two-tone shaded top, a silkscreened Senorita logo across a slotted head- stock and everyone's favorite, the eccentric-shaped celluloid pickguard.

In the Depression's depths this pretty B & D guitar cost $50 retail. Its chief competition among quality guitars was the 00-18 grand concert from C. F. Martin Co. in Nazareth PA. Built to nearly identical specs in an austere finish, the Martin cost $45.
 
Meanwhile, Groton No. 1 is a utility flattop that will spice up whatever hokum you throw at it. Ladder-braced, it has a solid mahogany body and spruce top, 14-fret neck and headstock design that shines with an Art Deco flair.

c. 1939 B & D Groton No. 1 (no sn)
It has a nonadjustable metal rod through the neck, red bean fret- board, extra large frets and 15¼-in. lower bout width. It features a formidable mid-range honk and lobster claw pickguard across a chocolate brown shaded top.

Though not as desirable as a Martin or a Gibson, this jazzy Bacon & Day still cost $15 when new, a sizable sum for folks late in the Depression. Among other choices, you could find a cheaper one from a music teacher, pawn shop, music store, barber shop or in a Sears, Roebuck catalog.

Acquired for $467 in 1995 with J. B. Kline's in Lambertville NJ, my Groton No. 1 resembles a well-fed KG-11. But don’t let its good looks distract you, since it has twice the tone of your old man's Kalamazoo. Its 14-fret neck will let you reach the high spots and its rosewood bridge sits over the top’s sweet spot.
  
B & Ds are favorite of guitar cognoscenti
In recent years a vibrant band of guitar enthusiasts has celebrated the virtues and appeal of vintage B & D guitars. Some of this attention is driven by ardent fans of John Fahey (1939 - 2001), a hipster guitarist whose musical star arced during the 1960s and 1970s.

John Fahey and c. 1935 B & D
Senorita  Style  S-6  (sn n. a.)
Fahey recorded several long-winded, drone-tone albums as he fingerpicked on a 1935 B & D Senorita Style S-6 and other guitars. His B & D guitar was a 14-fret long-scale rosewood tone monster.

It was equipped with 15¾-in. lower bout, two-tone shaded top and pearloid headstock full of rhinestones. The rose- wood fretboard boasted eight pearloid blocks of inlaid floral emblems and diamond motifs.
 
 









 




Jon and Dierdre Lundburg behind shop counter in 1960s
Sometime in the 1960s, before Fahey acquired his S-6 guitar, it was cherried up by guitar dealer Jon Lundburg (1935 - 2011) of Berkeley CA. The straight Gibson-esque rosewood bridge was replaced by a stock Guild bridge and the distinctive lobster claw pick- guard was swapped out for a bound archtop pickguard. Despite such hot-rodding — or perhaps due to it — the Fahey S-6 guitar acquired the status of musical icon among vintage guitar collectors.

Here's a brief video of John Fahey back in the 1960s talking about and playing his c. 1935 B & D Senorita S-6.


One source said Fahey sold his B & D back to Lundburg. Then, in 1970 it was acquired by Joe McDonald, a 1960s psychedelic rock band artist, who sold it to Subway Guitars in Berkeley CA. A second source said Subway Guitars sold the guitar to a player named John Titford in the 1980s. Titford took it with him to his home in England, repaired some neck damage and later sold the guitar to an unnamed friend in the U.K., where it currently lives. Today, Fahey fans, guitar pickers and vintage collectors all lust for a B & D just like Fahey's S-6 (sn n.a.).

c. 1939 B & D Senorita Style S-6 (sn 1019)
Good luck finding one, though. In recent years only one Senorita S-6 (sn 1019) like Fahey's has showed. RetroFret in Brooklyn NY sold it in July 2006 for $9500.

This guitar disappeared for more than a decade. In this hiatus, someone replaced the straight rosewood bridge with a stock Guild bridge so the guitar would resemble the Fahey guitar.

In February 2020 this guitar (shown at right) reappeared  at RetroFret in Brooklyn. Despite the hot-rodding — or due to it — they sold the guitar in two days at $18,000.

Luckily, the original blue and white Bacon Banjo Co. label was intact. What's more, the distinctive lobster claw pickguard had not been upgraded, removed, replaced or otherwise despoiled.

But let's face it. In the last 20 years acute rarity, robust demand, rise of vintage vendors and, until recently, a strong economy, inflated listing prices for Bacon & Day flat tops and their flamboyant arch top siblings. Still, there's much we don't know about early models or the original buyers.

Bacon's Martin-made guitars introduced in 1924
Though Bacon Banjo Co. built many fine and expensive banjos between 1906 and 1938, it never made guitars. When it decided to sell guitars, it contracted with other makers to build Bacon and B & D branded instruments. Such forays into the sales of guitars included working with C.F. Martin Co. of Nazareth PA in the early 1920s and Regal Instrument Co. of Chicago in the early 1930s.

1924 Martin-made Bacon (no sn)
shows S along dovetail's surface
"A few guitars without Martin stamps were made for the Bacon Banjo Co. about 1924," said C. F. Martin Co. historian Mike Longworth, author of Martin Guitars, A History (© 1994). Without providing any evidence, he added: "Some of Bacon's guitars were probably made by other firms, as well."

Two Bacon instruments from the early 1920s have surfaced in recent years. Both are a concert size (13½-in wide) guitar built with slotted headstock, 12 frets to the body, an ebony fingerboard, bar frets and pearl inlays at the 5th, 7th and 9th frets. Both guitars have an ebony pyramid-style bridge, spruce top and rosewood body.

The first Bacon is illuminated by a dark and glowing spruce top, headstock logo with cursive Bacon nameplate similar to the firm's banjos, and no serial number on the neck block. Instead, the interior surface of the dovetail joint, revealed in a recent neck reset, shows the letter S, a mark Martin used to identify its special editions.

1924 Martin-made Bacon (sn 18909)
Found on a Connecticut farm, Bernunzio Vtg Instruments initially listed this guitar in June 2005 for $6500, and later reduced to $5000. Pretty and delicate, this precious guitar was made prior to use of top bracing of sufficient strength for its use with steel strings.

The other Bacon guitar has serial #18909 on its neck block and is otherwise identical to a Martin 0-21 guitar in the 1920s. The spruce top has a natural finish — not a shaded top — and herringbone soundhole rosette. It also has a herringbone backstripe.

The serial number on the neck block of this guitar dates it to early 1924. That year the Martin company built 100 of its own 0-21 guitars, which were sold at $50 retail.

This rare bird does not have a Bacon logo or any other brand on the headstock's faceplate. Instead, it was stamped on the reverse side of the headstock: "Made by the Bacon Banjo Co. Inc., Groton, Conn, U.S.A." 

B & D's Regal-made guitars introduced in 1931
As much as we like vintage B & Ds, there is a paucity of information to describe the firm's models, sizes and design iterations. This is probably due to how Bacon Banjo Co. entered guitar markets and marketed its wares during the 1930s.

Bacon Banjo Co. had built flashy and expensive banjos for nearly three decades, but Messrs. Bacon and Day never built guitars. They'd sold ukuleles, mandolins and guitars built by other makers in the early 1920s, but mostly prospered on a banjo-only line.


Fred J Bacon (top) and David L Day (bottom)
in Chicago Musical Instrument’s Catalog #35
When the premium banjo market crashed in the early 1930s and the Depression lingered, the company fell on hard times. As a remedy for this distress, Bacon and Day, men in their 60s with decades of music industry experience, hired Regal to build instruments that would be tagged and finished as B & Ds, according to the account often pasted into listings by RetroFret and other vintage dealers.

Though similar in design to several instruments built by Regal, the B & D instruments were high quality and distinctively finished. As if to mimic B & D's banjo DNA, these final touches meant decorative dollops of pearloid, rhinestones and Art Deco glamour.

Low-key publicity for Bacon's guitar lines
For all we know, the Bacon company did not issue sales flyers or periodical ads to hype its Regal-made lines. Instead, it sent letters to instrument dealers and music teachers and publicity releases to industry media to tout its new guitars.

For example, in the October 1931 issue of Music Trades Review, a magazine for industry bigwigs, a short paragraph about Bacon Banjo Co. proclaimed:

               Bacon Banjo Co. has recently announced several important
               additions to its large line of fretted instruments. These
               include the new "Senorita" tenor guitars and the "Symphonie"
               banjo. Both lines have a number of new features.
 
Then, in the December 1931 issue of Music Trades Review, after a paragraph on two solo banjo recordings by Fred Bacon, this paragraph was inserted: 

               The B & D Senorita Guitar, recently introduced, has met
               with a splendid reception from dealers and teachers in the
               principal cities. A circular describing the new instruments
               will be issued shortly.

To date, nothing further on the progress of the Senorita guitar has been found in period literature.

Bacon Banjo Co. largely relied on wholesalers to highlight B & D items among a wholesaler's other wares. As a result, today's guitar owners, dealers and sellers must scrounge for info on B & D models, sizes and designs among catalogs from the 1930s.

Wholesaler catalog offered useful info on B & D guitars
So, let's examine catalog pages from wholesaler Chicago Music Instrument Co. that showcase B & D guitars from 1931 to the late 1930s. Spoiler alert: some descriptive copy may not jive with the adjacent illustrations, a discrepancy that reflects the issuance of some catalogs with outdated or incomplete info.

CMI Catalog No 35 details Senorita flattops
and Senorita-Troubador arched top guitars.
At right is a page in CMI's Catalog No. 35 from the middle 1930s. It lists six Senorita flat top models for Spanish or Hawaiian play as well as Senorita-Troubador arch top guitars for orchestra use. These models were offered in B & D's two-tone shaded finish.

Prices for the six Senorita flat tops in concert, grand concert or audit- orium size and in rosewood or ma- hogany bodies ranged from $45 to $90. Senorita-Troubador arch tops in grand concert or audit- orium size and mahogany body only, sold at $60 and $70, respectively. Any B & D model could be ordered as a tenor or plectrum guitar at the same price.

CMI Catalog No. 35 offers details on B & D's
Ne Plus Ultra Troubadour arched top guitars.
The page at left from CMI's Catalog No. 35 offers four Ne Plus Ultra Troubador arch tops in all their finery — with rhinestone-studded pearl- oid headstock, pearloid fret- board inlays and dark two-tone shaded finish.

Its mahogany grand concert Style 2M was $90, while a mahogany grand auditorium Style 3M cost $100. The rosewood grand concert Style 2R cost $190 and the rosewood grand auditorium Style 3R was $200. All four arched top guitars had the distinctive B & D two-tone shaded finish.

The page at right from CMI's Catalog No. 38 in the late 1930s has five flat top and six arch top guitars sorted in four groups — Junior and Solo flat tops and Orchestra and Coliseum arched tops

Junior models include a mahogany body auditorium flat top Groton No. 1 for $15 and mahogany super auditorium arch top Groton No. 2 for $25.

Solo models include the mahogany auditorium Senorita S-1 at $65, mahogany super auditorium Senorita S-2 at $75 and the rosewood super auditorium Senorita S-6 (the Fahey guitar), which sold for $80.

B & D's arch tops with "enormous volume and carrying power"
Among B & D's Coliseum models, the Ramona and Sultana were big, ambitious arch tops meant for professional and accomplished amateur players. Among the Orchestra group, the Ramona arch tops included a mahogany super auditorium No. 2 at $65, mahogany grand auditorium No. 3 at $75, and a rosewood grand auditorium No. 3R at $100.

Size mattered for B & D's arch tops. With a lower bout width of 181/8 inches, the firm's Coliseum Sultana model offered "enormous volume and carrying power with a tonal depth and richness comparable only to the longest concert sized pianos," according to the CMI Catalog. "No expense has been spared to make them the very finest guitars of the day." 

Indeed, B & D's Coliseum models were Sultana I at $150 (mahogany body with deeply carved spruce top), Sultana II at $250 (curved and flamed maple body and carved spruce top), and Sultana Grand at $325 (bird's eye maple back, carved spruce top, mother of pearl trim and gold-plated metal parts.

Physical dimensions of B & D guitars
Besides offering a taxonomy of B & D models, CMI's Catalog No. 38 itemized the physical dimensions of models. The utility of knowing sizes has not been lost on B & D owners today. Succinct descriptions, combined with accurate dimensions, allow them to confirm which B & D models and sizes they have on hand.

Here are dimensions for B & D guitars from CMI's Catalog No. 38:

     Auditorium               —      40½ inches overall length,
                                             15 inches at widest part,
                                             4 inches body thickness at bridge. 

     Super Auditorium      —      41 inches overall length,
                                             153/16 inches at widest part,
                                             4¼ inches body thickness at bridge. 

     Grand Auditorium      —      41½ inches overall length,
                                             16 inches at widest part,
                                             43/8 inches body thickness at bridge. 

     Coliseum                   —     42¾ inches overall length,
                                             181/8 inches at widest part,
                                             4½ inches body thickness at bridge. 

B & D build dates based on banjo production dates
Without receipts, photos or period data, the dates dealers currently assign to vintage B & D listings are conjecture. If they use a resource at all, it's usually one of two serial number compilations for Bacon and B & D banjos.

One database is regularly updated by Polle Flaunoe, a Danish banjo player and collector. The other database was published in 2003 by banjo researchers Ed Britt and Michael Holmes.

But fair warning. Both serial number compilations apply to banjos — not guitars — made by Bacon Banjo Co. between its start in 1906 and its demise in 1938.

Flaunoe identifies model names, serial numbers and build dates for thousands of banjos. Holmes and Britt, on the other hand, estimated build dates for batches of serial numbers associated with Bacon banjos. The numbers overlap and folks use either set to date their guitars because, well, that's all we have.

For the era that interests us — the 1930s — here are Holmes' and Britt’s notes:

1931              Serial numbers were approximately #29,xxx when the new
                     generation (Symphonie, Sultana, Senorita) were introduced.

1938              Serial numbers were approximately #35,xxx when the famous
                     Hurricane of 1938 (Sept.) closed Bacon’s Groton CT works.

1938–1940     Bacon worked with Gretsch to produce banjos and guitars.
                     Some transitional instruments made by Gretsch (likely from
                     existing stock) have Bacon serial numbers or Bacon stamps. 

Problems        It can be very difficult to separate Groton's Bacons and
                     B & Ds from the late 1930s from Gretsch-made ones as
                     Gretsch carried over certain models and stylistic details.

                     Due to various numbering schemes, some Gretsch-made
                     Bacons and B&Ds with 3-digit, 4-digit or 5-digit numbers
                     are mistakenly dated to anytime between 1910 and 1940.

For practical purposes, Holmes and Britt give us workable build dates for all of eight years. It's a crude tool, but here's one way to parse their groups of serial numbers for B & D guitars in the 1930s.

           Year          Serial #                Year           Serial #
          1931    -    # 29, xxx               1935    -    # 33, xxx
          1932    -    # 30, xxx               1936    -    # 34, xxx
          1933    -    # 31, xxx               1937    -    # 35, xxx
          1934    -    # 32, xxx               1938    -    # 36, xxx

Of the 40 or so B & D six-string guitars, tenor guitars and mandolins unearthed in my research, a serial number was found on one-third of the instruments. For the guitars, serial numbers on 15 range from #31341 to #35433. In the Holmes and Britt framework, these instruments date from c. 1933 to c. 1938.

One Bacon guitar has serial #18909 (a 1924 Martin date). Seven B & Ds have three- and four-digit serial numbers (#0036, #123, #135, #136, #1019, #1041 and #1111). Most (not all) date to 1939 and 1940, when Bacon production was taken over by the Gretsch company.

Numerical gymnastics aside, this is still a warm and sweaty pile of vanity. B & D guitars will remain difficult to date without corroborating period info.

To get a better idea, we still need to create a database of dealer listings, serial numbers, photos, period records, owner reports or other provenance. Once such material is compiled, we may begin to verify what we know of these fine vintage instruments.

See also "Recent B & D Sightings" — posted July 15, 2020

Sources and Resources
________________________________________________________

Archtop.com                                  Seattle WA                   www.archtop.com
Bernunzio Uptown Music              Rochester NY              https://bernunzio.com
Cotton Music—NoAmerGuitar      Nashville TN                https://thenorthamericanguitar.com
Emerald City Guitars                    Seattle WA                   www.emeraldcityguitars.com/
Folkway Music                              Waterloo ON                https://folkwaymusic.com
Guitar Gallery of New England     Amherst NH                 http://guitargallery.com
Ithaca Guitar Works                      Ithaca NY                     www.guitarworks.com
J.B. Kline & Son                            Lambetville NJ             www.jbkline.com
Jet City Guitars                             Seattle WA                   http://www.jetcityguitars.com
Julien’s Auctions                           Hollywood CA              www.julienslive.com
Kovacik Guitars                             Scotia NY                    https://guitar-repair.com
Lark Street Music                          Teaneck NJ                  www.larkstreetmusic.com 
Lost Boy Guitars                            Rowayton CT              www.lostboyguitars.com
Mandolin World HQ                        Brandon FL                  www.vintagemandolin.com
McKenzie River Music                   Eugene OR                  www.mckenzierivermusic.com
Musician's Enemy                          Chilmark MA                https://reverb.com/item/25559804
New Era Guitars                            Chesterton IN              www.arkneweraguitars.com
Players Vintage Instruments          Inverness CA               www.vintageinstruments.com
RetroFret Vintage Guitars              Brooklyn NY                 https://retrofret.com/default.asp
Sylvan Music                                  Santa Cruz CA             www.sylvanmusic.com
T.R. Crandall Guitars                      New York NY               https://trcrandall.com/         
Unofficial Martin Guitar Forum       Nazareth PA                https://umgf.com
Vintage Blues Guitars                    Lititz PA                        www.vintagebluesguitars.com
Wildwood                                       Rochester VT               https://jakewildwood.blogspot.com
Wilco Loft                                       Chicago IL                    https://reverb.com/item/25451736

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Holmes & Britt              Bacon serial #s   www.mugwumps.com/BaconSerialNumbers.html 
Flaunoe Polle               Bacon serial #s   www.acoustudio.dk/BD_and_Bacon_database.html
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Fred Bacon                          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frederick_J._Bacon 

Bacon & Day History           https://acousticmusic.org/research/guitar-information/large-shop-guitar-builders 
Vtg Guitar Catalogs             https://acousticmusic.org/research/guitar-information/catalogs

John Fahey                          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Fahey_(musician)
John Fahey's guitars            https://umgf.com/john-fahey-s-first-martin-t161688.html
                                             https://gimmeanf.blogspot.com/2010/10/bacon-and-day-senorita-guitar.html

Jon Lundburg                       https://umgf.com/jon-lundberg-t121609.html#.Tm0qea46Pzw
                                             https://umgf.com/neck-reset-by-slipping-the-block-t1368.html
                                             http://libertyship.com/lundberg/lundberg_cctimes.htm
                                             www.fretboardjournal.com/features/obituary-guitar-dealer-jon-lundberg

Joe McDonald                      www.countryjoe.com/cjmbio.htm
David Portman                     www.portmanguitars.com

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                              ©  2020 — Kenneth Lelen — All Rights Reserved