For enthusiasts of early banjo
Place of origin:
United States (made)
ca. 1840 (made)
Materials and Techniques:
Vellum soundboard nailed to beech sides, pine back and bone soundhole
Link to the page.
Wonderful! Surely they must mean bone tailpiece or bridge. Wish we could see the other sides of it!
Yes, the description is chock full of errors, and I doubt seriously a provenance of 1840, given the peghead style and the strange wedding of 5 strings with a non-gourd wooden lute like body. The word "circa" is unfortunately marvelously inaccurate considering how important a few years is in the physical development of the early banjo. Cool looking thing though. Now just where is that soundhole?
Yeah the description is kind of sketchy.It looks like there may be a bone inset on the bridge. Dod you notice how the mount the 5th string is dovetailed into the neck, it's almost like an afterthought.
I have a little more information. I thought this picture looked familiar and it turns out it's in a published collection of musical instruments that I picked up in a discount rack 40+ years ago. The book describes it as " Banjo,c.1840 London, Victoria and Albert Museum, Pear-shaped hoop of pine with a closed back in which is a small ivory-bushed soundhole. Tacked vellum. Figure-of-eight head. Five strings including the short thumb string, this tuned at a small peg box dovetailed into the right side of the neck. Length 99 cm Diameter of hoop34. Depth 9 cm."
I took a good look at this banjo in 2003. I wasn't allowed to photograph it, but made some drawings. It seemed to me to be a English 18th century guitar that had been converted into a banjo. In addition to the 5th being dovetailed into the side of the neck, the 4 string peg head was also joined onto the neck, somewhat awkwardly, if I remember correctly. My guess was that it was made soon after one of the early American professional banjoists toured England, and before banjos were commercially available, this was someones solution to getting an instrument like what they'd seen on stage
Thanks Pete, that makes a lot of sense.
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