Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

Bob Sayers
  • Male
  • Arlington, VA
  • United States
  • Since the 1960s
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Bob Sayers's Discussions

Not Minstrel Banjo, but Worth Noting

Started this discussion. Last reply by Mark Weems May 20, 2014. 3 Replies

Ralph Stanley, 2014 Yale Honorary Doctor of Music…Continue

W. Boucher, Jr., Composer

Started Feb 22, 2014 0 Replies

I recently acquired a ratty piece of sheet music for a melody called the "Verbena Waltz."  It was published by G. Willig in Baltimore in 1857.  It is dedicated to "Miss Magdalena A. O'Brien."  Its…Continue

Look to the Tambourine

Started this discussion. Last reply by Richard Graham Nov 6. 7 Replies

I've spent the last couple of months downloading antebellum newspaper advertisements for sellers of banjos during the period stretching from roughly 1845 through 1865.   It's turned into a gargantuan…Continue

Banjo Poem (1867)

Started this discussion. Last reply by Paul Draper Aug 8, 2013. 2 Replies

Here's a poem that I found today in an 1867 New Orleans newspaper.   It was written in jest as an example of "bad poetry," but after 150 years it has a certain charm.  I've also attached the original…Continue

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Latest Activity

Richard Graham replied to Bob Sayers's discussion Look to the Tambourine
"Tuning keys on tambourines date back to around 1500 in Europe, although they weren't common until the late 18th century when a number of London makers responded to a growing demand there. Now I've heard that Boucher also made tambourines…"
Nov 6
Joel Hooks commented on Bob Sayers's photo

Katie Partington as "Topsy"

""shearing" HA!  I meant sharing"
Apr 3
Bob Sayers commented on Bob Sayers's photo

Katie Partington as "Topsy"

"Thanks, Joel, for adding more context to the photo.  It's a striking image, though disturbing in many ways"
Apr 3
Joel Hooks commented on Bob Sayers's photo

Katie Partington as "Topsy"

"Very cool image and the best scan that I have seen of it!  Thanks for shearing!!! She was a minstrel.  Let me explain. By 1870 Uncle Tom Cabin shows were just themed minstrel shows.  Same acts, jokes, songs and routines but themed and…"
Apr 3
Chris Prieto liked Bob Sayers's photo
Apr 3
Bob Sayers posted a photo

Katie Partington as "Topsy"

Here's an interesting cabinet card that I recently acquired. I thought initially that Katie Partington might be a minstrel performer. It turns out, however, that she appeared in a production of Uncle Tom's Cabin the 1870s and later toured as "Topsy"…
Apr 3
Al Smitley commented on Bob Sayers's photo

Tommy Polka (1860) p. 1

"Tommy Polka is among my favorites.  I've struggled with the higher octave "C' part but am starting to get it.  There are several YouTube versions.  I like them all!"
Mar 21
Samurai banjo commented on Bob Sayers's photo
Mar 21
Samurai banjo commented on Bob Sayers's photo
Mar 21
Samurai banjo commented on Bob Sayers's photo

Tommy Polka (1860) p. 1

"Tommy is 'Tateishi Onoziro'. His descendants held a concert in Japan honoring his achievements. This is Tommy Polka played then. https://youtu.be/Om4V86KppCQ"
Mar 21

Profile Information

How did you find out about Ning Minstrel Banjo?
Google search
How long have you played banjo?
Since the 1960s
What kind of banjo(s) do you own?
(1) James Hartel Ashborn banjo #145; (2) custom William Seeders Mosheim frailing banjo; (3) Thomas Bostock English fretless banjo

Bob Sayers's Photos

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Comment Wall (4 comments)

At 7:00pm on March 28, 2010, John Masciale said…
welcome to this site
At 7:54pm on March 28, 2010, John Masciale said…
We are looking forward to what you post. You may want to contact Satoshi (Samurai Banjo). He has posted some great stuff from Japan (check out the photos), and is a delight to correspond witn.

My wife Elaine and I love haunting libraries of sheet music looking for old gems. Since my daughter Elise is a student at Indiana University, we have photgraphed most of the Star collection of Minstrel banjo music.

Thereare some fabulous researchers signed onto this forum. Feel free to start discussions, or contact people.
At 6:51am on April 3, 2010, Greg Adams said…
Hello Bob! Glad you are here.
At 1:02pm on January 11, 2011, John Masciale said…



I'm really glad you signed on.  I'm looking forward to seeing some of your music, etc.  My wife Elaine and I have a daughter at Indiana University, and we've photographed just about their entire collection of Minstrel music (in their Star Collection).  We really enjoy researching the old tunes.


I am giving a presentation at the end of this month at the Midwest Civilian's Conference.


It is a history of the banjo for civilian reenactors.  I've been doing research for this for the past year.  What an amazing history we have.


FYI, we have a banjo gathering almost every year at Antietam, which will be the last weekend in June this year.  It would be great if you can make it, there are usually 20-30 banjoists from around the country who show up, along with a few fiddlers, etc.

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