Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

Hello--I recently acquired an antique banjo with a smooth brass pot--no holes, no shoes, no brackets or hooks. Have been assuming it may have originally had an internal tension system, but several people think it could have had tension rings at the bottom and top, and been held together like a drum.

Have any of you fine folks seen similar banjos? Anyone have any photos that might help ID this?

I appreciate your help!

Jim Jacquet

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I don't see any indications of it ever having been finished and used.  Perhaps someone just never finished it and never drilled bracket holes?  That would be my guess considering there are no telltale signs of it ever having been played.   

Hmmm...have to admit that possibility never occurred to me. It is as good a theory as any, but I tend to assume these old banjos have all been used at some point. 

Thanks for answering!


Here's a carte de visite photo from my collection of a man in Ionia, Michigan playing a bracket-less banjo, with what also looks to be an internal tensioning system.  Anyone know anything about the maker?  (I've cross-posted this at Banjo Hangout, since Jim started the discussion over there.)  

Thanks for the wonderful photo, Bob!
The looks like a top-tensioning system, somewhat like the H.C. Dobson 1867 patent, although Dobson supported the whole thing inside a large wooden resonator.
Not sure if this is how an internal tension system would look from the outside...maybe.....

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