Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

Heres my Circa 1880s six string banjo that I bought of Ebay a couple of years back. It has flush fret markers and the pot is brass (I think) with no wood. half of the hooks are missing and someone did a Victorian floral style painting on the head. I haven't touched it partly because i don't know whether to strip it, sand it revarnish it a replace the head - or if i should simply get it in a working condition and enjoy its batteredness (keeping the painted head)... i think im edging towards the second option.

Views: 123

Albums: my other old banjos
Location: London

Comment by Bart McNeil on February 3, 2012 at 6:50pm

I would definitely not strip it... It will lose all the history in the dirt, varnish and crazing of the varnish. I would be interested in seeing some photos of the back and maybe some of the shoes and hooks.

Are the fret markers inlaid or are they simple scratched fret lines?

What an intersting instrument.

Comment by Sylvia on February 4, 2012 at 8:08am

Second option,  it seems to go with the deep skirting board and tiled floor of a  Victorian / Edwardian house.

Comment by flatfoot johnny on February 4, 2012 at 8:58am

Yeah i agree with both of you. The frets are inlaid wood markers... with evidnce of the neck shrinking slightly due them protruding slightly out of the sides. I'll get some photos shortly

Comment by Bart McNeil on February 4, 2012 at 9:33am

I don't know how familiar you are with fine art... But you certainly can make a round wood stretcher as an artist would use and Make another steel tension ring to display the painting as a work of art without doing any damage to the painting. I think the banjo is too nice as a player to lose as a decorater item, and the painting is too interesting to lose as a kind of folk decoration.


And yes, I agree with Syllvia. I owned a house of similar vintage years ago and still regret having had to sell it. Full of interesting hand crafted detail.

Comment by Bell Banjos on February 4, 2012 at 10:39am

I had one with a sexy cowgirl painted on it and autographs all over the skin. Probably the guys at the bar. I couldn't help but remove and frame that work of "folk art."


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