Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

Whew -  long day in the shop. Rubbing down 3 'curlies' and cutting and banging and bending brass. I send a drawstring bag (handmade) with my banjos. Lately folks are inquiring about wood cases. I'm going to saw planks thin for the box and use old time wallpaper inside. But other that those 2 ideas, since any pictures of originals or even modern 'rustic' minstrel cases seem to be rare, what would be the best all around look, shape, etc... I want to have one style. I want it to be a good one - right down to the handle and hinges. I guess I'm asking for pictures and ideas.

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Are "coffin cases" historically appropriate? 

I just purchased an 1890's J.F. Stratton "Monarch" banjo complete with its octagonal wooden case (much like the one pictured). If I can't rebuild it, it will serve as a pattern for a reproduction. Basically thin pine boards, splined together at the corner joints. Mine has a red felt interior.

I haven't run across any advertisements for "coffin" cases for banjos in the early period (not that I've been looking esp. for any). Most of the banjo cases I've seen are either fancy leather or stiff-canvas, end opening. As is usual, leather, canvas and other textiles just don't survive all that well so original cases are scarce.

Is this thread still open?  I saw one today at a flea market.  Looks to be made for a 13" head and overall length (including perch pole, if any) of no more than 38".  The neck part gets progressively deeper (and wider) toward the tuners, suggesting it was made for friction pegs that stuck out in back.  Round part was a bent hoop, not an octagon.  There was a small genre painting on the lid (lady's banjo?), and the lining was a sort of pale olive green plush.  The dealer said he found it near Columbus OH.  I got him down to $200, but the wife made me leave it anyhow.  (We have too much old junk we can't use, and yada yada, you know how they get.)

Anybody want me to run back out there and snap it up?  You have about an hour and a half... go!

I realize that folks are asking you for a wooden case, but these instructions for a couple leather cases look pretty neat.

http://www.scribd.com/doc/76746097/Leather-Working
Skip ahead to page 55 in the book. (59 on scribd's reader)

Here's a coffin case I built some time back.

Steve

That's a great case. Thanks for the pic.

Steve ,  that is a very impressive case!  I want to build a case, but it would be just simple,,, yours is beautiful.

It's not an authentic minstrel banjo case, but maybe you can get some ideas from my jouhikko/tagelharpa case I had Michael King build to my specs:

I requested it be made from all scrap/recycled wood and plywood.  Michael sand-cast the latches himself, and they latch into old fence staples.  I asked him to make the handle from an old leather belt.  I also asked him to line it with thick wool rather than paper, to protect the tagelharpa from knocking around inside.  He used an old Norwegian sweater, which was in keeping with the Swedish folk instrument.  Yuou might consider using an old wool blanket, quilt piece, or felt if you want to protect an instrument a bit more than wallpaper.  It also has a lovely fitted built in cardboard/paper box in which to keep strings and such.

It's a thing of beauty in itself!   :)

Nice, especially the blankie.

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