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Jul 14, 2020 - 8:57 AM
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1170 posts since 3/1/2012

I just purchased this banjo from a collector on the east coast. He is a member of the Hangout, so it is possible there is an archived Post I don’t know about.
Have not received the banjo yet, so the accompanying photos are from the seller.
The banjo has a 14 inch head, geared tuners, and a slotted peghead. There are decorative rivets In between the hooks. And federal shield shoes.
The seller bought it 6 years ago from Bernunzio, but it was found several decades ago in Montana, so possibly a traveling minstrel troupe disbanded when they got that far? Who can say.
This is the earliest banjo in my collection.




 

Jul 14, 2020 - 10:42:18 AM
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5614 posts since 9/21/2007

That is a great "tub" banjo! I've played it a few times.

There is some things about it that look as if they were done to make "trick playing" easier. The shape of the transition of the neck to the peghead allows for swinging it when playing "Church Bell Chimes" (plucking notes with the left hand while swinging back and forth).

The dowel stick is nice and large for grabbing.

Played with a thimble and a firm right hand near the bridge, that banjo is thunderous.

Jul 14, 2020 - 11:16:13 AM

1170 posts since 3/1/2012

quote:
Originally posted by Joel Hooks

That is a great "tub" banjo! I've played it a few times.

There is some things about it that look as if they were done to make "trick playing" easier. The shape of the transition of the neck to the peghead allows for swinging it when playing "Church Bell Chimes" (plucking notes with the left hand while swinging back and forth).

The dowel stick is nice and large for grabbing.

Played with a thimble and a firm right hand near the bridge, that banjo is thunderous.


Joel--is Church Bell Chimes an actual tune? Can't find anything on YouTube.

Jul 14, 2020 - 11:25:38 AM

Bill Rogers (Moderator)

USA

23975 posts since 6/25/2005

Would federal shield brackets have been in use as early as 1860? I thought they were used during the Civil War at the earliest.

Jul 14, 2020 - 11:27:37 AM
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5614 posts since 9/21/2007

This is from 2013...

youtube.com/watch?v=S4ZMyv9CWkY

I don't play it exactly like any of the published versions (and I am NOT playing your banjo).

There were many arrangements of this. One bit was to learn what a town's church rang and then work the local bells into the act. People loved it.

Edited by - Joel Hooks on 07/14/2020 11:28:03

Jul 14, 2020 - 11:30:19 AM
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5614 posts since 9/21/2007

quote:
Originally posted by Bill Rogers

Would federal shield brackets have been in use as early as 1860? I thought they were used during the Civil War at the earliest.


Yes, and stars too.  What we don't see are eagles.

The trouble is that the shields continued to be used with greater velocity after the war, up to and past 1900 on low end banjos. 

Jul 14, 2020 - 12:07:05 PM

Emiel

Austria

9586 posts since 1/22/2003

quote:
Originally posted by Joel Hooks

This is from 2013...

youtube.com/watch?v=S4ZMyv9CWkY

I don't play it exactly like any of the published versions (and I am NOT playing your banjo).

There were many arrangements of this. One bit was to learn what a town's church rang and then work the local bells into the act. People loved it.


This is wonderful… 

Jul 14, 2020 - 1:33:25 PM

755 posts since 5/31/2004

Ditto, Joel!

Jul 14, 2020 - 7:26:17 PM
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1097 posts since 5/19/2018
Online Now

Nice instrument!

Love early banjos with machine tuners on them.

When you have it in hand, please load up some detailed photos of the instrument.

Jul 16, 2020 - 7:43:02 PM
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4 posts since 12/2/2008

It’s always interesting to watch old banjos that I have owned or worked on make the rounds. Maybe 15 years ago, give or take, I won this banjo in an online antique auction that I literally stumbled upon while doing a web search. (Not eBay). My notes regarding it have disappeared but my recollection is that it originally came out of the southern east coast area. There was little if any provenance.
I did some restoration work, as it had been awhile since it had been played; nothing particularly major as I recall. Again, those missing notes.
I kept it for a few years giving it a home in Montana before putting it on consignment with my friend John Bernunzio.
Thus the Montana connection. Since then I believe it has passed through a few hands. A big old boomer of a banjo.
Norm Peterson
Helena, Montana

Jul 16, 2020 - 8:40:47 PM

1170 posts since 3/1/2012

quote:
Originally posted by REALLYoldbanjos

It’s always interesting to watch old banjos that I have owned or worked on make the rounds. Maybe 15 years ago, give or take, I won this banjo in an online antique auction that I literally stumbled upon while doing a web search. (Not eBay). My notes regarding it have disappeared but my recollection is that it originally came out of the southern east coast area. There was little if any provenance.
I did some restoration work, as it had been awhile since it had been played; nothing particularly major as I recall. Again, those missing notes.
I kept it for a few years giving it a home in Montana before putting it on consignment with my friend John Bernunzio.
Thus the Montana connection. Since then I believe it has passed through a few hands. A big old boomer of a banjo.
Norm Peterson
Helena, Montana


Hi Norm. Thank you for the history! The person I just bought it from bought it on Bernunzio's site in 2014, so I am apparently the second owner after you.

Do you know whether there is an archived post about this banjo?

There has been some discussion about whether the machine tuners are original to the instrument. What is your feeling about that. I know there was a patent for machine tuners in the 1850s. Since the banjo is still making it's way across country from Washington DC to Washington state, I haven't had a chance to examine it yet.

It certainly looks to be a beauty, from the photos!

Jul 17, 2020 - 1:16:23 PM
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1170 posts since 3/1/2012

Alrighty, then! Banjo just arrived! I am calling this The Wedding Banjo, since I am getting it the same week as me and my longtime (6 yrs) girlfriend got married.
To my eye, it appears that the mechanical tuners may have replaced earlier mechanical tuners--look at the 5th peg.
The decorative rivets in between the shield hooks appear original.
This is a BIG banjo: 14 inch head, and the neck measures 21 inches from nut to pot (29 inches from nut to bridge).
Here are some detailed photos:




 

Jul 17, 2020 - 1:18:36 PM

1170 posts since 3/1/2012

more photos:




Jul 17, 2020 - 7:24:17 PM
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1170 posts since 3/1/2012

Here is a quick video I made. Nice, big booming sound, and I love the low notes!


Jul 17, 2020 - 8:22:45 PM
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1097 posts since 5/19/2018
Online Now

As mentioned, very nice instrument.

I love the set up for the fifth string. Beautifully done.

Good solid sound on it. That would be very interesting to hear in an auditorium setting.

I Am always amazed at how many hands these things get passed through. My focus is banjos from the 20’s and 30’s, so sometimes I have knowledge of direct lineage of the previous owners. Most times, not. Your banjo pushes that back another 60-70 plus years. Another two generations and how many more owners. Obviously this is a special instrument or it would not have made it some 150 years and be still a powerhouse of a player.

Good to see it’s in the hands of someone who really can appreciate it and preserve it for the next hand-off to those who follow us.

Jul 17, 2020 - 8:34:55 PM
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4 posts since 12/2/2008

Jim: thank you for your note and email. I will respond Separately to your email.
I felt this banjo was an original slothead. Clearly it was not a “manufactured” banjo. As with all one of a kind banjos that are pre1900, it is hard to date when it was made. Just because it has features of an early banjo era, does not necessarily (in my opinion) put it in a particular 10 year period. But I’m pretty comfortable leaving others to put a date on any early Banjo. As for the tuners, my recollection is that one set of of the top ones had been replaced with some much later Non matching guitar tuners. As it turned out I had a stash of early slothead guitar tuners and hit the jackpot with a virtually identical replacement, including the bone buttons. Seems to me that other than Ashborn and Tilton and maybe a few others, there were not many slothead sets for five strings available for a guy that wanted to make a slothead banjo back in those days. The obvious solution was to cut down a set of slothead guitar tuners, which is, I think, apparently what happened here.
The rivets, to my eye, were original and pretty cool looking. Based on my recollection of the location of the shoe holes and drill marks, shoe impressions, etc., it originally had fewer shoes. The neck is industrial big, to say the least, but from the nut to the fifth peg, it is fairly slender. When I got it, it had a fairly large forward bow. I did a neck straighten on it and it went back to being flat. That’s about all I recall.
Norm

Jul 18, 2020 - 8:20:28 PM

csacwp

USA

2693 posts since 1/15/2014

quote:
Originally posted by Bill Rogers

Would federal shield brackets have been in use as early as 1860? I thought they were used during the Civil War at the earliest.


Shields were used in the 1850s. 

Jul 22, 2020 - 2:24:36 PM
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BelfastFiveString

Northern Ireland

105 posts since 7/22/2020

Beautiful. Congrats on the marriage and the new banjo. Be sure to love them equally!

Jul 22, 2020 - 4:03:52 PM
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225 posts since 8/11/2007

That's one fine tub. I'm terribly jealous, Jimbo!

Jul 22, 2020 - 6:20:34 PM
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1170 posts since 3/1/2012

quote:
Originally posted by Clifton Hicks

That's one fine tub. I'm terribly jealous, Jimbo!


Every now and again, it all works out!

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