In 1926 the Liberty Rawhide Company of Chicago combined with two Massachusetts companies - banjo and drum makers Nokes & Nicolai of Boston and Joseph Pacheco of Malden, a maker of stringed instruments - to form the Liberty Musical Instrument Company. Pacheco remained with the new company, manufacturing instruments. The new venture, which was located at 1431-35 West Austin Avenue in Chicago, was not a success, and in August, 1927 the company's assets were purchased by Slingerland.
There was definitely a relationship between Liberty and Slingerland. Mark Cooper, in his Vintage Drums web site, devotes a page to Slingerland and mentions that "Slingerland also made drums for other companies at times." He pictures a drum and writes, "here is an example of a Sea Green Pearl Tone Flange model made for the Liberty Musical Instrument Company of Chicago around 1928."
The exact role Joseph Pacheco played in the business relationship between the companies is not known. However, a 1929 Chicago lists the firm of Pacheco & Klemm as manufacturers of musical instruments, and I've seen banjo ukes marked "P & K."
During its short time in existence the company produced some high quality banjo ukes under the names "Liberty" and "Premier." I've seen banjo ukes with the name "LIBERTY" inlaid on the peghead, and "J. PACHECO" stamped on the dowel stick, and others with just the "LIBERTY" name. I assume the "Premier" name was used on the more expensive instruments since they have a full flange while the others don't.
An ad in a 1927 issue of The Music Trade Review pictures a tenor banjo and reads as follows:
You owe it to yourself to investigate the Premier- UNQUESTIONABLY one of the greatest values in the banjo world. Tonal quality of sheer beauty. Mahogany throughout, three-piece selected neck, rich pearl inlay, elaborately engraved pearloid head, geared pegs, ivory buttons, finger-board of the finest aged wood available. Absolutely guaranteed not to warp. Kiln-dried and seasoned. Seven-ply laminated shell. Heavily nickel-plated metal parts throughout.
Tenor or Plectrum No. 201, with case.
"Ask about our dealer proposition" Liberty Musical Instrument Company
1431 West Austin Avenue
CLICK HERE to see a fancy Liberty banjo uke
CLICK HERE to see a second fancy Liberty banjo uke
CLICK HERE to see a fancy "Premier" banjo uke with the May Bell name
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