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Nov 28, 2023 - 1:08:29 PM
6 posts since 11/28/2023

My name is Victor Rosenberg. I am not selling or buying anything.

All my life I have owned a unique Steinway banjo
Steinway was a piano company in Philadelphia - the banjo was made around 1880.
The medallion on the back says "the Windsor" and may say "Birmingham Ohio."
Frankly I never noticed the medallion before, but i did visit Steinway and they confirmed they sold it.
It HAD a lambskin head, a resonator.
and the 5th sting tuning peg was at the top with the other 4.
The 5th string was strung through the inside of the neck to its proper place.
It had medium inlay.

I say HAD because our house was destroyed in Hurricane IAN, and I am still negotiating with insurance.
I do still have it but doubt it is salvageable.

I am trying to decide what a reasonable price would be for insurance purposes.

I paid 1,000 for it at a Pawn shop around in 1960.
I was offered $5,000 for it by Boston Music shops several times in the 80's.
That always seemed a high price tome, but I was not interested in selling anyway.
However, while that number seemed high to me,
I was shocked to find what the insurance people offered for my non-unique Gibso guitar.
I guess prices really have climbed over the last 60 years.

But, what I want now is to claim a reasonable amount for insurance recovery.
I do not need a formal appraisal, just some reasonable estimate.

BTW -- after I finish the insurance, I might be interested in selling the damage item to someone who feels they can repair it.
But that is a future issues -- not this year.

any advice would be appreciated.

Nov 28, 2023 - 1:48:40 PM

6 posts since 11/28/2023

finally figured out your photo system

Nov 28, 2023 - 2:19:24 PM



1316 posts since 5/19/2007

I'm far from an expert, but you have a zither banjo. The medallion on the back says Birmingham England. While old, they aren't particularly rare. I'm not sure where Steinway came into the story, but I don't believe this was made by Steinway.

Nov 28, 2023 - 2:31:24 PM

11296 posts since 4/23/2004

#1. That is Birmingham ENGLAND.

#2. Windsor was a major maker of Zither-Banjos around the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. I'd SWAG it at 1900.

#3. If it were in 100% new today, you'd be hard pressed to get $300 for it. There isn't much of a collector's market. I have its brother, same model, etc.

There are tens of players worldwide. They can't sell them, nobody wants them.

Nov 28, 2023 - 2:59:28 PM

14827 posts since 1/15/2005

Victor ..... surely you must have the purchase price and music store offer of $5,000 confused with another instrument. This British zither banjo would have never approached those prices at any period of time, even in mint condition. As Marc said, there is just zero market for these banjos and obviously the condition it is in makes it worthless. The cost to restore it would be more than many times its value when completed. I hate to disappoint you, but it is what it is.

Nov 28, 2023 - 6:03:53 PM

6 posts since 11/28/2023

I appreciate the feedback.


I had no idea what the value was (or was not) , and I now have a few answers.

                                      I do not LOVE these answers, but they help me file the claim.

I never thought it could be repaired -- not even sure it was worth restoring my Florida home, but the wife wanted that.

Nov 29, 2023 - 6:22:05 AM



2859 posts since 8/30/2012

My inflation calculator says that in $1000 in 1960 is equal to $10,000 in 2023.

I hope for your sake that you're mis-remembering how much you paid for it in 1960.

Nov 29, 2023 - 7:10:03 AM

8072 posts since 9/21/2007

Watching eBay UK, if you could get someone to ship one, you might be able to replace it all in (including shipping) under $300.

They sell at the $150-$200 sometimes, rarely for $300 or more, but mostly they just sit unsold.

Sold for £110.00

This one sold for £37.00

For £81.99

They basically have no real value and they pretty much all need work. They get stored in "lofts" which is pretty much the worst place to keep them. Due to the construction of wood with laminates they tend to fall apart in that hot and humid/extremely cold place.

Those above look serviceable and give a good idea of actual value.

Nov 29, 2023 - 7:20:41 AM

6 posts since 11/28/2023

Thanks to all of you. Your answers helped a lot,
some of you thought I was looking for an inflated value, I was not. Just wanted to know what to put on the claim form.

Inflated value misunderstands the purpose of insurance. If I can replace it for a reasonable price, then that is wonderful.

and your answers have pointed me to a wide range of merchants who offer replacement at around $900.00.

as to whether I overpaid in 1960 -- That was over 60 years go and I really loved the banjo; so no, I did not overpay.
I paid a price I could afford for 60 years of personal enjoyment.

As to whether I mis-remember anything -- I found that thread slightly offensive and unnecessary, but I am 80.
I am positive on most of the basic facts.
I know what I paid, and what I was offered.
I am now thinking that my association of it with Steinway may have been a different Banjo.

That leaves only 1 open question. Does anyone want to salvage the pieces for their own use?
I will even pay for postage, just because I did love that instrument.

Nov 29, 2023 - 8:37:22 AM

4736 posts since 4/29/2012

I was se?ling zither banjos in London's Portobello rd. 50 odd years ago. Good condition fancy ones sold for about £5 (about $10 then). If only I'd known I could have shipped them to the States and got 100 times as much.

Edited by - AndrewD on 11/29/2023 08:37:54

Nov 29, 2023 - 10:41:07 AM

2749 posts since 1/4/2009

im not trying to question youre mental fortitude by asking this, because it just happened to me with a banjo I purchased 15 years ago and confused it with another I used to have. Is it possible that you had a different banjo for that price? Because this one doesnt seem to say stienway at all, and its possible that banjo could have been something more valuable.

Nov 29, 2023 - 11:37:05 AM
likes this

6 posts since 11/28/2023

yea -- it might have been more valuable, but it was broken in a car crash back in 1960 and I have not seen it for the last 60 years. I think my brother had it, but he is gone also.

The insurance payout on that was about $750.00, I had it repaired but was not happy with the result. The repaired banjo was OK but lacked the character of the original.

I have found over the years that banjo repair techs often want to make the banjo sound like all other banjos. Both of mine had mellow sounds and by my perspective, both suffered when repaired.

Nov 30, 2023 - 10:14:08 AM

15928 posts since 12/2/2005

Originally posted by Victor Rosenberg

I have found over the years that banjo repair techs often want to make the banjo sound like all other banjos. Both of mine had mellow sounds and by my perspective, both suffered when repaired.


One of the interesting things about banjos, Victor, is how their tone can change depending upon the setup. Head tension, type of head, tailpiece angle, specifics of bridge (woods used, mass, shaping), tone-ring-to-rim fit... all of these and other factors can have a significant impact on the sound. Assuming you move forward in banjo world, don't just drop off an instrument with a repair shop. Be there during setup and tell the setup person exactly how you want it to sound. Dunno if there's anyone in your area who really knows how to set up a banjo, but being there while someone who knows their stuff is working on it can make all the difference.

Edited by - eagleisland on 11/30/2023 10:15:13

Nov 30, 2023 - 5:31:51 PM

70 posts since 12/8/2011

Bernuzio (in New York) currently has a zither banjo right here for $200 (marked down from $300).  Apparently it actually sounds really good. 

Victor, I'm not surprised that you loved yours.  I saw them pooh-pooh'ed online so much when I was looking to buy my first 5-string that I didn't really ever consider one even though they're on eBay fairly regularly for low-ish prices.  When I finally heard one being played, it sounded quite lovely and perfect for playing late at night when others in the house (or next door) would be sleeping.  Not unlike a nylon/nylgut strung banjola in terms of mellow-ness.

Nov 30, 2023 - 6:15:17 PM

6 posts since 11/28/2023


I will buy that.

now if I can just find a reasonable offer to replace my Holzapfel 12 string Guitar.


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