S/N 3279 ca. 1883
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It was very interesting to discover a true tone ring
the Clipper banjo!
It consists of a bronze ring with a cross section like a heavy letter P where
the rounded top of the P rests on top of the wooden hoop, and the long leg
extends down the side in a recess cut for it.
The tension hoop is also quite complex. The left
picture below shows
the bottom of the tension hoop which has a recess for the flesh hoop (a
feature common on the highest grade early Fairbanks banjos) and an
additional raised round bead to help retain the skin. The center pic shows
the top of the tension hoop with its lowered recess for the cobra hooks
and the pretty beaded raised inner edge. The third pic shows the tension
hoop weld(s). It appears that it was lengthened by the addition of a short
length of the same extrusion.
Below is a picture of the flesh hoop with its usual
wrapping of the
joint with cotton string. You can see how, in the assembled pot, the
flesh hoop is completely hidden within the tension hoop.
Patent Markings & Serial Number Stamps
Fairbanks seems compulsive about stamping everything
into any relevant surface of his banjos. Unlike later instruments that bear
the patent date stamp, this early banjo has numerous Patent Applied For
stamps on the neck clamp, the washers in the pot, and the tension hoop.
The serial number is visible in the picture of the
hoop weld. Here are
the serial number stamps inside the pot and on the back of the dowel stick.
And here are the Trade Marked Clipper stamp and the
The F&C stamp also appears on the underside of the dowel stick.
Finally, here is the beautiful ivory tailpiece and a
of the paper
Patent Allowed label that was on the back of it.
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