Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

Just got this old banjo on eBay. It was listed as homemade or folk art, which is why there were no serious bidders.

I think it is an 1870s  H.C. Dobson, before he went to the more conventional design in the 1880s.

Any thoughts, pro or con about that I.D.? Haven't taken it apart yet, so don't know if it says  Dobson inside the pot.

Jim Jacquet

​Olympia, WA

Views: 525

Comment by Jim Jacquet on October 28, 2013 at 8:30pm

Just took off the head. No identifying marks inside the pot whatsoever--which makes me wonder if it is a HC Dobson afterall. Very curious...

Comment by Strumelia on October 28, 2013 at 8:51pm

Kind of a Halloween-y banjo if you ask me!   Dig the crazy red alien vine coming out from behind there, too!   =8-0

Comment by Jim Jacquet on October 28, 2013 at 8:58pm

Jim Bollman just emailed me these thoughts:

 

Today at 6:47 PM
Many Buckbee products from this era were unmarked. I have had identical  banjos in the past – some marked Dobson, some unmarked. I’ve never however seen  early ( 1860s-1870s ) banjos with any kind of Buckbee stamp. The “ JHB “ and  other Buckbee marks and tags  seem to have occurred in the later 1880s and  1890s. The only way to identify many of these instruments is by overall design,  type of hardware, neck, peghead, heel profiles, etc. Best, Jim  ( try  sending me better photos if / when you take them )
Comment by Valerie Díaz Leroy on October 28, 2013 at 9:07pm

What an adventure! We can't wait to hear (and see) more.

Comment by James Pentecost on October 28, 2013 at 9:21pm
Comment by Jim Jacquet on October 28, 2013 at 9:26pm

Yes, Saw that. Different peghead shape.

Comment by Ian Bell on October 29, 2013 at 6:52am
Interesting that the maker put the fifth fret on both sides of the fifth string slot. An aesthetic decision I guess.
Comment by Jim Jacquet on October 29, 2013 at 12:50pm

Sent Jim Bollman a few more pics, and he feels it is probably not an HC Dobson, but also doesn't think the neck was added later. Heres his email:
Today at 10:17 AM 
Hi Jim- I've seen the HBO threads about the rim looking like an early top tension  ( Buckbee-Dobson ) and the neck perhaps made by someone else. While a possibility I think it more likely that the banjo is original, not necessarily made to a Dobson pattern by Buckbee, perhaps done for another vendor which might account for a peghead shape , lack of heel cutout, lack of the characteristic cut at the fifth peg area, etc. I've seen other early Buckbee products with the odd fifth peg area treatment. Since you've started to disassemble the banjo you might look for telltale signs around the rim-heel joint that another neck was affixed to the banjo at some point. Again it looks right to me from the photos but a close examination would be necessary to talk with authority. Best, jim

Comment by Jim Jacquet on October 29, 2013 at 12:51pm

Whoever made it, I want to fix it up and play it! Always fun bringing these old banjos back to life!

Jim Jacquet

Comment by Bell Banjos on October 29, 2013 at 2:46pm

The crooked frets say a mouthful. I have a feeling it's the first attempt of a skilled woodworker, not banjo maker. Or the frets may have been put on later. My reasoning is this - Why would anyone go to all that work and not set up a simple jig to saw the fret grooves?

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