Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

Hi. Just won this old minstrel banjo on ebay. Anyone have an idea who the maker might be? I am assuming this is an 1860s banjo, based on the position of the 5th peg, and the eagles on the rim.
Thanks--Jim Jacquet, Olympia, WA

Views: 389

Comment by Strumelia on September 27, 2013 at 3:07pm

Jim, if you remove them, be sure to take closeup photos first of how they are wound on, then keep and label the twisted string remnants- clearly label which string they were from- 5th, 1st string, etc..  This is great info to have for the future, or for future owners to have.  (Always keep anything very old that you ever remove from a banjo and label it clearly and be sure it's kept with the banjo, for the benefit of those who come after you.)  

Congrats on a wonderful instrument!

Comment by Jim Jacquet on September 27, 2013 at 6:27pm

Strumelia--good comments! I will be removing the old strings, since I would like to string her with nygut, tune low, and play. I will save everything.

I already own a eagle bracket banjo from the mid 1870s, but the 5th peg sticks out to the side, like on a modern banjo. So I am very excited to have won this one, as it is clearly older.


Comment by Gil Sayre on September 27, 2013 at 7:17pm

Jim,good find! Go over it with a magnifying glass as you never know what's to be seen. The shield brackett can be traced to the late 185o's.How wide is the pot? Is the dowel stick round or square? These are important to help date it.

Comment by James Pentecost on September 27, 2013 at 8:26pm

Congratulations Jim. I was the next highest bidder. Hope you can make a video so that we can hear how it sounds. Beautiful banjo!

Comment by Bob Sayers on September 27, 2013 at 8:52pm

Jim, congratulations.   I was a bit behind you in the bidding.  (My wife is already complaining "You bid WHAT on that old thing?!?")   I was hoping that the winner would be someone here on this website and I could see who got it.  I'm no expert in the finer points of dating early banjos.  But my gut instinct says 1860s, judging by the the very Civil War-ish looking eagles.  On the other hand, the peghead shape, the vertical fifth string peg, and the deep scoop could put it a little earlier.  There are half-a-dozen carte-de-visite images of similar banjos in Gura and Bollman's book.  Card photos of that sort were popular in the 1860s and early 1870s, but of course the banjos in the images could be older.   I guess I'd want to string it with genuine gut strings and do everything that I could to preserve that beautiful old skin head.   But that's your call.   Again, congrats on a really neat catch!   Bob           

Comment by Jim Jacquet on September 27, 2013 at 8:59pm
Thanks for the congrats! I will cherish it once it arrives. By far the most I've ever spent on a banjo, but worth it.
Of course groceries are out for the next year...
Comment by Jim Jacquet on September 28, 2013 at 9:18am

Bob--my girlfriend just spent almost the same amount on a 1925 Ludwig plectrum, so she could hardly give me a bad time about this purchase. lol

Comment by Strumelia on September 28, 2013 at 11:09am

Jim J.- you better marry that gal quick before someone else here snatches her up!

Comment by Jim Jacquet on September 28, 2013 at 11:11am

Oh I wish! And she's beautiful, too!

Comment by Joel Hooks on September 28, 2013 at 12:10pm

Hi Jim, nice banjo! 

The thing about these is that they were produced early--but also still for sale in the 1890s.  It is more likely that it is earlier.  But not definite.

I would love to see more photos.  That could give clues, not to the maker but rather early make or late tub.

From the one you posted it looks like a substantial banjo (can't wait to hear it).

Those brackets are likely later, again more pictures.  The fifth peg says pre 70s, but again (redundant) still made and sold in the 90s.

The mfg of these types of banjos was dominated by one factory post war-- J. H. Buckbee.

Pre war... who knows? 

What size is rim? Is it clad?  Clad rims are documented (several accounts) as early as 1855.


You need to be a member of Minstrel Banjo to add comments!

Join Minstrel Banjo


John Masciale created this Ning Network.

© 2021   Created by John Masciale.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service