Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

Is there any evidence that the early tutor books were available in Great Britain, when or shortly after, each title was first published in America? 

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It wouldn't surprise if the tutors made their way there with the proliferation of the banjo and American acts. Now, did they set up a table and sell merchandise? I highly doubt that. Lol...The way these things go, I imagine the tutors were sort of sprinkled in, given to other English players by some American players. But I'd guess the mass publication for distribution in England took quite some time, due to modes of travel and communications then...

Hi Rob,

That is what I was thinking.

I'm just making a start on the 1860 'Buckley's New Banjo Method' on my flush fret banjo, probably English and possibly made in the 1870s. I like the thought that it was used to play those tunes back then.

From what I understand, Sweeny was in England around 1848-ish. So, I'd guess it may have started around then, though it's well known he basically learned "by ear" from Uncle Eph. But I'd guess it was the groups that came not too much later that the tutors started to make their appearance. But, those groups had to be willing to get away from the "minstrel" costumes and such, as the English crowd couldn't identify with that portion of American culture at the time.

Sweeney was in the UK starting in 1843. Sheet music of tunes from the Virginia Minstrels was available very soon after they started up...but it was vocal music, songs. I would hazard to guess that copies of The Howe Preceptor and The Briggs Banjo Book (and all the rest) made it across within weeks of their publication. Sheet music sales was a hot prospect on both sides of the pond and there were no restrictions (or copyright agreements). Shipping across the pond via sailing ship might have been faster than current USPS...

If we set 1843 for the onset of the Minstrel fad in the UK, banjo music would have been a very hot seller 8 yrs later when the Briggs book came out.

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