Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

A guy came into the museum where I work (Port Dover, Ontario) the other day with this banjo. It's a flush-fret, drilled for friction pegs (all missing) and 21 brackets. No marks on the dowel stick excelp "588" stamped in near the tail end. The pictures were taken in low light with an i-pod so they ain't the best. Any ideas?

Views: 105

Comment by Ian Bell on August 12, 2012 at 12:15pm

Hey Rob. This banjo made me think of some of the instruments in your collection.

Comment by Rob Morrison on August 13, 2012 at 11:10am

Hey Ian.  With the spun metal rim and 21 brackets, it's a step above the most humble of the store tubs.  Most likely 1880's or 1890's, judging from the lack of frets.  Buckbee low end banjos tended to have itty-bitty dots or nothing at all for position markers, so I'd guess it's not from that factory.  In short, I have no idea.--Rob

P.S. I hope I'm the right Rob

Comment by Ian Bell on August 13, 2012 at 1:22pm

Thanks Rob. I only wish I could get the owner to sell it. (He also has an 1880s Fairbanks-Cole which he doesn't play either.)

Comment by Rob Morrison on August 14, 2012 at 9:15am


It's a shame it's not being played.  Simple, early mass-produced banjos are relatively inexpensive, cool, and can sound great as well.  It's the closest we'll ever get to period sound.--Rob

Comment by Rob Morrison on August 28, 2012 at 12:50pm


A banjo similar in style and vintage to your friend's mystery banjo just showed up on the Bernunzio site.  It's circa 1880s flush fret markers, 25 inch scale length.  I t appears to be in wonderful condition.  The price is probably fair, no more, no less.  Don't know if you're interested, but give it a looksee.--Rob Morrison 

Comment by Ian Bell on August 29, 2012 at 7:28am

Thanks Rob. I know you can't really have too many banjos, but.... At least with the one that walked into the museum I could have said "It followed me home".


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