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May 16, 2019 - 12:28:45 PM
249 posts since 8/17/2010

A year ago I bought a banjo as a restoration project. The only markings were an adhesive label attached to the dowel stick, "Manufactured for Keith, Prowse & Co., London", along with the number 627 stamped into both ends of the dowel stick, into the metal heel cap and also written in pencil on the inner surface of the broken skin head. I completed the restoration but always wondered about the maker of this instrument. Last night, I yielded to temptation and carefully scraped the Keith, Prowse label off, revealing "Universal Favorite 932" stamped into the dowel stick. As you can see, the banjo is unusual as it displays MOP side dot markers at every fret. Also, it has a maple underlayment between the fret board and the neck. Curiously, the frets pass through the MOP fret board inlays. What do you make of this?

May 16, 2019 - 12:34:50 PM

249 posts since 8/17/2010

May 16, 2019 - 12:38:50 PM

249 posts since 8/17/2010

May 16, 2019 - 12:41:58 PM

638 posts since 6/9/2009

I get the feeling it might have originally been fretless.

May 16, 2019 - 12:44:46 PM

851 posts since 11/22/2007

probably originally a fretless with frets added later. The fret board was probably dyed rather than real ebony.

May 16, 2019 - 12:45:02 PM

110 posts since 3/7/2019

Ss Stewart?

May 16, 2019 - 1:12:48 PM

1485 posts since 1/13/2012

It looks to be of English manufacture. I do not know English banjos well, but there are a few members here who do and who will hopefully chime in.

"Universal Favorite" was a model name that S. S. Stewart used, but it was copied by an English banjo manufacturer (I can't remember which one).

The fingerboard appears to be Ebony. English builders don't seem to have used "ebonized" wood for their instruments nearly as much as American builders did.

Andy

May 16, 2019 - 1:24:20 PM

Emiel

Austria

9160 posts since 1/22/2003

Yes, it does look English. The many side dots on the neck; compare e.g. Temlett banjos, not saying it's Temlett, but it makes it look English.

May 16, 2019 - 2:36:27 PM

233 posts since 2/21/2012

Hello Steve, WElcome to the BHO site, you have a fairly early John Edward Dallas,
Universal favourite Banjo, plenty of info available on the tinternet.
Keith

May 16, 2019 - 3:02:27 PM

249 posts since 8/17/2010

Thanks everyone. My guess was S.S. Stewart but the construction didn't match. The J.E. Dallas origin explains the unusual features. Thanks again for solving another banjo mystery!

May 16, 2019 - 3:05:33 PM
likes this

51980 posts since 12/14/2005

"To be strictly logical about this item: It's not the favorite in MY part of the universe, but it is a very nice banjo, especially suitable for Class M planets."

-Cdr. Spock-

May 16, 2019 - 6:38:06 PM

3639 posts since 10/13/2005
Online Now

I am not familier with Class M planets, Mike. Is that the kind that end up blowing themselves up? Maybe we can have a party first with lots of banjo music! banjered

May 16, 2019 - 7:03:42 PM

John Firth-Smith

Australia

66 posts since 3/13/2010

Looking at the peg head shape its a Dallas banjo made in England I have a fretless one - interesting that he used SS Stewart name "Universal Favorite"

May 16, 2019 - 11:55:49 PM

19 posts since 2/18/2004

Dallas worked with J E Brewster at the same time Brewster was selling Stewart banjos in England (early 1880s). Stewart probably stopped supplying after Brewster won a medal for banjos exhibited in London which Stewart believed to be his own with the name removed.

May 17, 2019 - 3:02:14 AM

4507 posts since 9/21/2007

quote:
Originally posted by nickll

Dallas worked with J E Brewster at the same time Brewster was selling Stewart banjos in England (early 1880s). Stewart probably stopped supplying after Brewster won a medal for banjos exhibited in London which Stewart believed to be his own with the name removed.


Stewart did not just “believe,” he was right.  It happened.  Brewster pulled a con job.  One of those banjos that was built by SSS and was over-stamped by Brewster exists. 

Edited by - Joel Hooks on 05/17/2019 03:02:41

May 17, 2019 - 5:13:35 AM

1187 posts since 4/25/2007

Keith Prowse labelled Dallas built banjos turn up quite frequently. Dallas stamped many of his banjos Universal Favorite.
I bought a Stewart Professional from a UK dealer that had J E Brewster Grand Concert stamps. Brewster had tried, with some success, to obliterate the original Stewart stamps. I have since sold it on to another Hangout member. I've no idea what became of Brewster but J E Dallas was a prolific UK maker of good quality banjos.

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