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Williams and Son 5-String Banjo

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May 17, 2022 - 12:56:43 PM
5 posts since 12/10/2021

I've had this banjo knocking around for at least 40 years. There are multiple things wrong with it, so feel free to fire away after you've had a chance to look through the attached images. My primary interest is in finding out approximately what year it was built. Here's what I know so far:
1. On the top of the dowel stick I can faintly make out ...... & Son Banjo Makers Toronto. A little research led me to conclude that the ..... is Williams.
2. On the side of the dowel stick, stamped into the wood it says "Echo Style 26 5554"--the latter numbers I take to be the serial number.
3. The inside dimension of the rim is 10".
4. The neck, from nut to rim, is approximately 17.5"
5. The peg head is approximately 5"
6. I'm certain these are not the original tuning pegs, and I know for sure that the 5th string tuner was put on it shortly after I got it.
7. I'm sure the abalone shell inlay on the head is a later addition, thought I don't know when it was done.


Edited by - dpstrauss on 05/17/2022 13:01:35

May 17, 2022 - 1:08:44 PM

5 posts since 12/10/2021

And three more images. Please let me know if there are any other parts of the banjo you want to see.

Thanks in advance for any information you can provide!


Edited by - dpstrauss on 05/17/2022 13:09:39

May 17, 2022 - 3:51:35 PM

staceyz

Canada

154 posts since 5/30/2010

R.S. Williams and Sons.

Some one has a catalog of the various styles, but no records were kept that you can date it with the serial number, it is probably from the teens, so at least a 100 years old.

May 18, 2022 - 2:24:24 PM

flailing

Canada

275 posts since 2/4/2011

I think yours might be an Echo ladies banjo. I have attached a page I have of Williams lady banjos. As for the date of manufacture, that is hard to determine but yours is an early serial number. Here is a link to an R.S. Williams document about his factory in Toronto and Oshawa.

thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/...-sons-emc


 

May 18, 2022 - 5:56:36 PM

5 posts since 12/10/2021

quote:
Originally posted by flailing

I think yours might be an Echo ladies banjo. I have attached a page I have of Williams lady banjos. As for the date of manufacture, that is hard to determine but yours is an early serial number. Here is a link to an R.S. Williams document about his factory in Toronto and Oshawa.

thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/...-sons-emc

@flailing, Thanks so much for the information.  When I got the banjo decades ago, I took it to McCabe's in Los Angeles, where the late great John Zehnder looked it over and pronounced it a Ladies' Banjo as well.    He did not know for sure who the maker was, but his guess was S.S. Stewart, which technically is half right, if it is true that Stewart made the rims for Williams--something I stumbled across in my travels yesterday.  The linked article was helpful, in that it gave me some insight into some of the company's history.  They seem to have been Williams, Williams and Son, and eventually Williams and Sons.  My banjo definitely has "Williams & Son" stamped into the top side of the dowel stick.  Now I just have to unearth obscure information about when the transition from "Williams & Son" to "Williams & Sons" occurred.  That might at least get me in the ballpark as to when it was made.


May 18, 2022 - 7:36:40 PM

6912 posts since 9/21/2007
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No part of these banjos look like they came from the Stewart factory in any form.

Clearly these banjos were… ahem.. inspired by Stewart designs (aka, they were knockoffs).

Stewart was strongly against the idea of making private label banjos. He seems to have held fast to not doing that. After he died his nasty business partner started making private label “acme” banjos for Sears.

This is not one of those.

May 20, 2022 - 8:34:09 AM

5 posts since 12/10/2021

Maybe not this banjo, but according to Grant MacNeil 12fret.com/instruments/william...njo-1895/ "Williams bought their pots and hardware from S.S. Stewart then built their own necks." At least this seems to have been the case with other Echo Styles, if not this one.

Edited by - dpstrauss on 05/20/2022 08:35:18

May 20, 2022 - 8:45:55 AM

6912 posts since 9/21/2007
Online Now

quote:
Originally posted by dpstrauss

Maybe not this banjo, but according to Grant MacNeil 12fret.com/instruments/william...njo-1895/ "Williams bought their pots and hardware from S.S. Stewart then built their own necks." At least this seems to have been the case with other Echo Styles, if not this one.


Sadly, we are in an age where the dealers are no longer the experts. 

May 23, 2022 - 6:24:17 PM

5 posts since 12/10/2021

So, who would you say are the current experts? By the way, I really like your banjo thimbles. I got one a couple of weeks ago, it seems to be working out great.

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