Construction & Tone Rings
Fairbanks & Cole (1880 - 1890)
In 1880 Fairbanks joined with W.A. Cole, a well
Boston banjo performer
and music teacher, to form the Fairbanks & Cole company. While Cole was largely
involved in promotion of the company and its banjos, Fairbanks was primarily
responsible for the technical innovation.
- First few years -
No model designation.
The round heel became the "boat" shaped heel as shown on the neck below.
"Fairbanks & Cole Makers" stamp on the dowel stick.
Serial numbers were usually stamped inside the pot, hidden under the neck side of dowel stick.
Early F&C Peghead.
F&C "boat" heel shape
"Bracket Shoe" style of neck brace.
Early F&C Hardware
Some more early F & C pegheads are shown here.
The F&C pots were either wooden pots as shown
usually with decorative
marquetry and/or pearl inlay, or full spun pots with the wooden hoop clad on the
outside with a thin metal sheath. A thin metal hoop was placed on the top and bottom
of the wooden hoop before the metal shell was spun over it, creating a crude
form of tone ring. The two wooden pots shown here actually have a 1/4" diameter
round brass hoop recessed into the upper outer edge, serving as a tone ring.
1/4" Round brass tone ring showing through the transluscent skin on
this wooden pot.
A compendium of early F&C tone rings is given here.
The names of the higher grade models
Imperial, Expert and Clipper
were also stamped on the dowel stick.
on this picture.
Later F&C Peghead
Later F&C Hardware - Note the typical recessed Flesh Hoop
The inlays are fairly crude saw-cut mother of pearl arranged in interesting patterns. Some of these F&C banjos have considerable amounts of such inlays covering much of the peghead, fingerboard and pot.
Some F&C banjos also had rudimentary carving on the heel. The later higher grade Fairbanks banjos had quite varied and beautiful heel carving.
- In 1889 catalog -
offered in 9 grades from $10 No. 40 to $30 No. 600
fancy gold plated Expert listed for $90.
On to A.C. Fairbanks & Co. (1890-1895)
- Return to main Fairbanks Banjos page -
Please contact me with any additions, corrections or comments in general.