View Full Version : Help me date my Banjolin

Mar-22-2018, 4:47pm
Please help me identify the origin of my Great Granddaddy Archie’s banjolin....

American Conservatory



Mar-22-2018, 5:40pm
I'll let somebody else date it that has a catalog page. It was made for (maybe by) Lyon and Healy of Chicago. That was their brand name. Lyon and Healy was a manufacturer, a distributor and a retailer of musical instruments. Many times some instruments they sold were farmed out to other manufacturers and simply labeled as their own.

Mar-22-2018, 7:03pm
do you know anywhere I can go to find more info on either company? I was told They didn’t make it through the Great Depression.

Mar-22-2018, 7:04pm
It was your post I read that had the info about Lyon and American conservatory being somehow related.

Jim Garber
Mar-22-2018, 8:02pm
Crissy: the best book on the subject of Lyon & Healy is our friend Hubert's book, Washburn Pre-War Instrument Styles (https://www.amazon.com/Washburn-Prewar-Instrument-Styles-Pleijsier/dp/157424227X/ref=sr_1_6?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1521766218&sr=1-6&keywords=washburn+guitars).

166139 166140

I don't see anything in that book under American Conservatory mandolin-banjo but there is a similar looking one with the same headstock shape labelled Style D mandolin banjo (1923)—see page 200 in above book.

AC was the middle grade line for L&H (Washburn the upper line). The company also liked to confuse us in the next century but constantly changing model names, restarting serial numbers and changing catalog specs for their instruments. So the definitive answe4r as to when your banjo was made is that there is no definitive answer.

BTW I have a feeling that the serial number was not those eight digits but that one of the numbers is the serial number and the other the style or model number. Could be that one number was even the manufacturing batch number.

Also, since this is a hybrid instrument, I am not even sure if they followed the banjo serial numbers or the mandolin serial numbers.

I can definitively say, though, that this banjo was made in the the last decade of the 19th century or the first two decades or so of the 20th century.

Mar-22-2018, 8:28pm
My bet is the first two decades of the 20th century. America Conservatory is listed as a Lyon and Healy brand name in the Mugwumps Encyclopedia.


The book Jim has listed above has probably the best information available about Lyon and Healy.

Mar-22-2018, 10:37pm
Thank you!! That was VERY informative!!

Drew Barton
Mar-23-2018, 2:32pm
and here I was going to say,

"Well, bring a dozen flowers, possibly with a batch of finger picks. Go for a picnic by the lake and soon the instrument will be all yours" but apparently that is not the date you were looking for.