Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

Anybody have any idea who made it and a time period?  Seller thinks its from the 1870s.

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I'm primarily interested in the Civil War period, so 1860s, although I'm also interested in the earlier minstrel era.  The seller says the neck is slightly warped but not in such a way that it affects play-ability.  It sounds nice to my ears- light and plunky 

I've already got a bell and I have a hartel on order. This banjo wouldn't be used for reenacting due to its age. All I'm curious about is how old it is- whether it is from the 1860s or 1870s.

Probably mid to late 1865 or 1866. Just kidding.

No way to tell.  These were still listed and sold through jobber catalogs well into the 1890s.

The round dowel was used as a labor saving method during mass production.  Mass production being a response to major demand.  Major demand started in the late 1870s and peaked in the 1890s.

While a cool banjo, it does not have some of the features (like a square dowel) that are attributed to higher quality banjos--it is certainly not a museum show piece.

Despite the opinions of some, low quality trade goods from a past era are still low quality trade goods.

Is it worth the asking price of $1100?  Absolutely not... that is unless you pay that.  Then it was worth it only for the exact moment that you put cash on the barrel.

$600 is very high, $300 is reasonable, $200-- it would have already sold.

Here is a jobber's page from 1893 with this banjo.  Notice that the price is $7.50  That is about $200 dollars today (take that with a grain of salt). Compare that to other Buckbee banjos of the era at $30 (still not pro level banjos, but made with better parts).  Stamp "Dobson" on the inside, that adds +/- $10.

But I digress.  $400 max on this one.  Not ACW vintage, age--1870-1900 (likely 1890s, how's that for narrowing it down).

Here'e a really similar pot that is stamped 1867 per Bill. He may have some more information if you email him, I believe his contact info is on his site.


Hi Wes, look again.  Completely different banjo with entirely different construction.  The referenced banjo from Bill's site has a solid brass rim, not to mention that everything else is shaped differently.

The above referenced banjo has a metal clad over wood rim.

Clad rims date from at least 1855, but we are not discussing when construction styles began.  The question here is dating and providing a free appraisal surface.

The catalog page posted above is from 1893, and pictures the exact model of banjo with consistent description.  That is a pretty good case that this banjo was built/sold in the 1890s.

 This style of banjo answered the call of store stock.  "Trade goods" to fill shelves with affordable popular items.

Yes, I see that now, at first look I thought it solid brass, my eyes aren't what they used to be.

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