Friday, February 17, 2012

The Baldwin Banjo

Doug Hutchens with Baldwin Style D banjo #519
In the late summer of 1967, Cam Joyce decided to sell one of his banjos. He had a Gibson banjo he had gotten from Larry Richardson and a Style D Baldwin that he had ordered in September of 1966 and it had been delivered to Melody Haven Music in Roanoke in April of 1967.

The word got around that he would sell either for $600. Marshall Hall had said that he had it and might go ahead and buy the Baldwin. In thinking back, I think Cam probably had pawned it to Marshall for less than the $600.

Dad and I went up to Cam’s house and he said he would trade the Baldwin for my Bacon if I’d give him the $450 difference between them. I had been saving Kennedy half dollars in a microphone tube, so I took them to the old bank downtown in Stuart and turned $450 worth of half dollars in for cash and called Cam and told him I could do the deal.

This was the second Saturday in November when he brought the banjo down to our house and I gave him the Bacon and the cash and became the proud owner of a Baldwin Style D banjo.
Doug Hutchens with Style D Baldwin Serial number 519. Summer 1968. With a hand

tooled strap made for him by Troy Brammer...

During the summer of 1971, while I was working with Bill Monroe, I came home one weekend and Cam heard that I was home. He came down and asked if I ever sold the banjo, would I give him first refusal, to which I agreed. He said that his little boy, named Doug, too, always talked about that pretty banjo and if I ever sold it, he would like to buy it back.

The next summer Cam got killed in a truck wreck.

Years later, I was talking to Clarence Hall one night and he mentioned that Doug Joyce had asked about the banjo that I had bought from his Dad. He asked if I would be interested in selling it to him.

I had to think about this a little, but I decided that if Doug wanted it, I would sell it back to him for what his dad had wanted for it, $600. But if he ever sold it, I was to get first refusal at the same price. After a few years Doug Joyce called one day and said “I don’t guess you’d want this Baldwin banjo back, would you?” I said if you are going to sell it, I will buy it. The value had appreciated, but he sold it back to me at the same price. I still have it today, having hopefully done what Cam would have appreciated in letting his son have it until he was ready to move on.

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