William L. Lange is probably best known to the music world for his line of Paramount banjos, and if that were his only accomplishment it would be a significant one. However, his company was responsible for the manufacture and distribution of several lines in addition to the Paramount brand. He was a partner in the firm of Rettberg & Lange, and in the late 1890s they purchased the Buckbee banjo company. By the 1920s William Rettberg had left the firm, and the name had changed to the William L. Lange Company. A 1931 directory lists the company as a manufacturer of banjos at 225 E. 24th Street, New York City.
In the 1920s Lange advertised his Paramount banjos as having "piano volume and harp quality tone." He also describes himself as "the pioneer in fine banjo manufacture."
Orpheum was another well known brand manufactured by the firm. Many Orpheum banjos have, in addition to the Rettberg & Lange label, a second label saying "C. BRUNO & SON, INC. DISTRIBUTORS NEW YORK.
A number of interesting and high quality banjo ukuleles were produced during the 1920s and 1930s by the Lange factory. The company also manufactured lower priced instruments for other distributors.
Click Here to see an Avalon Banjo Uke, produced for the Henry Stadlmair Company
Click Here to see a Banner Blue Banjo Uke
Click Here to see a Langstile Banjo Uke ad
Click Here to see a White Swan Banjo Uke
This picture of the company's building in New York City was taken from a 1920s catalog. The establishment is described as "the modern daylight factory of William L. Lange, situated in the heart of New York, has five spacious floors exclusively given to the construction of banjo instruments. Here is gathered a group of expert banjo makers who have devoted their lives to the business of making superior banjos."
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