Paul - No doubt R&L began making and selling Orpheum banjos in 1903.
From what I can fathom there was only one model in the beginning -- the Orpheum. Many may have had "Bruno" inscribed on them somewhere. Richard Orpheuman - Congrats on receiving your "new" Orpheum.
It has a white R&L tag (Orpheum in red) and a Bruno and Sons tag on the dowel.
Unfortunately, there's no sign of the original sales slip.
Our goal was to document Rettberg & Lange Orpheum banjos and distinguish them from Lange made Orpheums because the change in ownership from R&L to Lange on January 1, 1921 gave us our initial benchmark date.
Thereafter, we developed additional benchmarks from Rettberg & Lange history.
In fact, look how few 5-string Orpheums with low serial numbers that we have in our list. The darn banjos from the aughts seem to have disappeared from the face of the earth. one thing for sure is that I have 17 fret Orpheum tenor banjo #2040 in my closet. The pot is in good shape, though someone put a plastic head on it and I prefer natural skin...
Notably, the upcoming flick, which will mark the Bollywood debut of famous Marathi director Ravi Jadhav, is based on the banjo players from Maharashtra.
Happy New Year 2014 to our Orpheum owners and fellow William Rettberg and William L. We have been working on trying to date Orpheum banjos by serial number since about 2010. It has been a Banjo Hangout project from the very beginning and together we have collected almost 230 Orpheum serial numbers with maker's tags.
Unfortunately, we have not yet found that elusive dated sales receipt with an Orpheum banjo description and serial number. Meanwhile, attached is a thumbnail history for Rettberg & Lange together with the current annotated Orpheum serial number list.
And finally, a hypothetical Orpheum serial number date chart from yours truly based on our accumulated serial numbers, historical benchmarks and counting Saturn's rings. As an FYI, I just acquired an Orpheum #2 5 string, serial number 8765, from a BHO member that I don't find on your list.
Thanks for accumulating and sharing this information. I recall when you started this, those many years ago.
Thank you for all the effort you've put into this, and all the speculation, detective work, and just plain adding up the numbers (and Saturn's rings). The mystery to me is what happened between the issuing of the patent (1903) and the production of "regular" Orpheum banjos.