More photos will help.
Up close and personal.
My bet: Clifford Essex.
Edited by - Peg Leg on 05/21/2022 12:38:43
It is likely a Chicago made Regal banjo from the 1920's, but we do need more pictures to see subtle details that help identify the maker and approximately when.
90+ year old banjos are hard to pinpoint the value with just pictures. there are often necessary repairs that are not apparent until the instrument is examined by a craftsman that specializes in banjos from this era. What might appear to be a "put on a new set of strings and you're good" job to one person might actually need a complete rebuild because of deteriorating original materials.
Thank you Bob for the reply. This banjo is in perfect working order and is the one my dad prefers to play because of the great sound. What other pictures would be needed?
I glanced at Bob Carlin's book "Regal Musical Instruments 1895 - 1955". In the book Bob Carlin states that the first Regal banjos were marketed by Emil Wulschner & Son (Indianapolis). In the book Carlin reproduced an 1896-1897 Wulschner catalog courtesy of Jim Bollman. Jim Bollman opined that the banjos in this catalog were in whole or part made by Lyon & Healy (Chicago) or Cole of Boston. The banjo images in the catalog do not match the OP banjo but all are consistent with having a first fret fancy inlay (a la Morrison, etc.). The OP banjo has 30 brackets and the catalog has inexplicably banjos described as having 29 brackets and 31 brackets respectively. All the catalog banjos consistently have the spun rim top and bottom. So, as we look at the OP banjo maybe some Lyon & Healy and Cole folks will offer their views.
One of the brackets is missing so it originally had 31. One just needs to be replaced.
One of the brackets is missing. It just needs to be replaced.
Originally posted by Jennifer1962
This banjo is in perfect working order and is the one my dad prefers to play because of the great sound.
It may suit the needs of your dad's playing, but the back side of the rim picture shows a home-made dowelstick attachment that was used to lower the string height. That non-professional modification lowers the value, even it the banjo is a good playing and sounding instrument.
That illustrates my point that an instrument like yours can not really be appraised by photos alone. There are too many details that need to be evaluated by a knowledgeable professional.
Hopefully there is exactly that person near Olympia Washington that can give it a good look over.
Is that a slice of crown molding?
I can rule out Cole as the possible manufacturer.
I can't tell you about your banjo but what I can tell you is that you have 3 of the most knowledgeable banjo people in the US commenting here. I only comment to let you know this isn't just internet forum who you don't who's word it good.
It might be a slice of crown molding. It is removable and can be restored to its original condition.
Thank you all so much. I really appreciate your input.
jennifer 1962 - You may have pulled out of this thread but I think your Regal is mighty rare. So here is some more info.
Seems like info about Regal banjos in the late 1890s and the nineteen aughts is scarce but there appears to be a close tie-in to Lyon & Healy of chicago during this era.
It has been reported that in 1905 Lyon & Healy purchased the Regal assets.
Likewise, it has been reported that in 1906 Lyon & Healy registered the Regal trademark which I believe to be the Crown on your headstock which is pretty distinctive. To my knowledge there is only one other Crown logo in banjodom.
In about 1906/1907 Healy died and in 1908 a new Regal Musical Instrument Co. was incorporated by some new owners (attached from trade publication 1911). I don't know if this new company bought the intellectual property from Lyon & Healy but the crown logo appears to have gone to the new Regal and was still there in 1926 (attached) Originally, the new Regal Musical Instrument Co. made guitars. mandolins and zithers - no mention of banjos. Ergo, I would guess that your banjo was made before the new outfit was formed and is an "original" Regal banjo ca. 1897 - 1905. In 1911 this new Regal company purchased a lot on West Grand in Chicago and built a factory and were still concentrating on guitars and mandolins in 1912 - no mention of banjos.
In summary I think your banjo is a scarce example and was made 1897-1905 by whom I don't know but Lyon & Healy seems to be a manufacturer of interest.
As always, I (and I am sure many others) appreciate John Hoft's solid research. Even when there are few resources to draw from, he usually comes up with appropriate information buried in old trade magazines and the like. With his new post I now have a new, accurate view of the manufacturing time line of Regal 5-string banjos.
Edited by - Bob Smakula on 05/22/2022 07:25:14
If you're looking for a insurance quote or assessment you might try Dusty Strings in Seattle, they are a reputable shop and probably more familiar with folk-type instruments than a "Guitar Center" type outlet. As previously stated by others, you're getting some pretty valuable and specialized information right here on the hangout...
'Able to Upgrade Parts?' 2 hrs
'Red Wing' 4 hrs
'Unknown Watson Banjo' 5 hrs
'RK- R80 banjo' 6 hrs