W. A. Cole Eclipse Model 2500 5 String Banjo (1895)
W. A. Cole Eclipse Model 2500 Model 5 String Banjo (1895), made in Boston, Mass., serial # 2375, black varnish finish, laminated maple half-spun rim, mahogany neck with ebony fingerboard. Item # 6291
This is a very nice example of an 1890's Cole's Eclipse model 2500, similar to but not quite as fancy as the model just above it in the line-the famous Model 3000 with the iconic man-in-the-moon headstock inlay. The Model 2500 was a bit less expensive but is built with most of the same construction features and crafted to the same exacting standard. When W.A. Cole split from the Fairbanks & Cole company in 1890, he immediately launched his own banjo making operation...across the street from his old partner! The Eclipse line created there rank among the most interesting and artistic banjos of the classic five-string era. Cole's Eclipse models are generally considered to be some of the finest 5-string open back banjos ever made, rivaling ex-partner Fairbanks' instruments in beauty and craftsmanship if not always in sound. These banjos have a number of distinctive and unusual design and construction features.
The laminated black finished maple rim is fitted with Cole's Eclipse tone ring, a fairly simple sheathed design compared to the scalloped-base Fairbanks' "Electric" of the same era. The unique "Boat Heel" neck and dowel are secured by the panted Cole's neck adjustor at the tailpiece end. The dowel itself is marked "Cole's Eclipse" "W.A.Cole Maker Boston Mass" and Patented Jan-30-1894". The headstock inlay is a delicately engraved pearl star, executed with the distinctive Cole artistry. The fingerboard inlay is varied shaped engraved pearl executed in an extremely crisp manner, typical of the work of Boston's artisans in the 1890's. This is a delightful plater's banjo, a lovely example from one of the late 19th century's most elegant and distinctive builders.
Overall length is 36 in. (91.4 cm.), 10 1/2 in. (26.7 cm.) diameter head, and 2 1/4 in. (5.7 cm.) in depth, measured at side of rim. Scale length is 27 in. (686 mm.). Width of nut is 1 5/16 in. (33 mm.). A very nicely original banjo including the Champion friction tuners, the Elite tailpiece and all but a few of the hooks and nuts. There is overall play and handling wear commensurate with 120+ years of use but overall for its era this is a well preserved instrument. Set up with a nicely antique looking real skin head and steel strings, a fine sounding and playing survivor from the golden age of Boston banjomaking. Overall Excellent - Condition.
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