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I won’t go into the origins of (Fairbanks-) Vega’s Tu-ba-phone here — it’s been well-documented on many other web sites — other than to say that around 1909, likely the result of, at least in part, David L.
Day’s involvement, the tubaphone first went into production with serial number 25052.
What I will go into are some of the finer differences between the various Fairbanks – Vega and Vega tubaphones, and specifically Style M versions.
Specifically, the version that I have appears to be ‘relatively rare’ and somewhat undocumented; it is not in any catalogue, all have serial numbers from around 1922, and all generally come with an 11 1/2 inch pot.
Given that the end of World War I was 1918 the date of this catalogue might be later than 1912 or a catalogue supplement or earlier catalogue documented Vega tenors.
Excerpt of a testimonial from the ‘1912’ Vega catalogue mentioning Vega Tubaphone tenor banjos.
Tenor banjos were not included in this catalogue and either the date of 1912 is incorrect or tenors were listed in a previous catalogue.
There is a catalogue listed as 1923 (but very likely any date from 1917 to 1924) that lists three tubaphone tenor styles: Style M, Style X No. This is the first documentation that I am aware of of Vega Tubaphone tenors.
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Thus, Vega tubaphone tenors were produced in roughly two periods: The David Day – Imperial Torch period, 1918 – 1922, and the post-David Day – Vega and Vines period, 1923 . Vega Tubaphone tenor banjos likely first came about at the end of World War I.