Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

I'm in LA at the moment and thought I'd take a detour to see the original Sweeney banjo.  Does anybody know if it is still at the LA County Museum?  Someone told me today that it had been moved to the LA Museum of Natural History, but it isn't listed on their website (only some photographs and letters associated with the banjo are mentioned).  

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Is that the place by the tar pits?

I'm not sure.  Both museum websites mention tar pits but don't list them as an exhibit.

From what someone has told me the banjo was "lost."  I hope that isn't true.  The curator of the LA County Museum should for sure.  Please let us know what you find.

I did see the photos John mentioned along with a reference to this being a left handed banjo that Sweeney had made for his niece, but nothing about it being on display.

I've sent out some emails... hopefully I'll get to the bottom of this.

Museums, of course, don't display all that they have.  It could be in "storage".

Off hand, I don't know if museums are reluctant to acknowledge all that they have in their non-public stacks.

Someone here can probably offer insights.

My banjo is a copy of that banjo.  Jim Hartel actually got to make some rubbings off of the original. 

Seems as though I've seen a photo of Jim inspecting the original.

Is that merely in my imagination?

The original exists. I've seen multiple images of it, and Bob Flesher had access to it as well, I believe. Some of the collections that aren't on display are searchable on the museum websites- that is where I found mention of the photographs and correspondences.

That was, indeed, my imagination.  The photo is of him and Greg Adams comparing necks of a Boucher at Smithsonian Museum.

Is that the original on the cover of Bob Carlin's book?  On the verso page, he gives credit as, "Joe Sweeney's banjo, (Los Angeles County Museum)"

Please pardon my redundant non-insights.  I'll refrain from further blather on this discussion and hope you let us know your findings.

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