Here's an interesting find from the LOC American Memory. Part of a "quadrille" collection of piano music, from 1852, a piece called "Banjo Melody." If anybody know a good sight reading pianist, you might video them playing this and slap it up on youtube.
Note the hint at the bottom for imitating the banjo on the piano.
A couple of the pianos in the Smithsonian collection have "stops" which engage different "effects". I believe one of them, attributed to Mozart (IIRC) has a vellum tube that drops across a section of strings, etc. IOW, I suspect such stuff was common then as adding effects to one's electric guitar today.
Hi, guys. I don't get in here much, but I was intrigued by the banjo imitation. I could see Dan Tucker in the left
hand and Juba. I'd be interested to add any other "Banjo Imitations" to my file (it's actually a paper file, not electronic) if you run into them. Most of them sounded more like Old Johnny Boker. These may be a window
to banjo music we can't get to from the (sometimes later) banjo books. The Imitation of Briggs' Power of Music
is a very accurate rendition, fancier than most of the tunes in his book, with the thumb string played be the
left hand reaching over the right (on the piano).
If you weave a paper strip through the strings of a guitar near the bridge you can get a sound close to plucking
a fretless, gut stringed banjo. I once saw an Orchestrion (sp?)(a large music box with a turning metal disc) that had a banjo effect with the same sound of a plucked fretless banjo.