A friend has a banjo that they have inherited. It has 7 strings, is fretless, has a skin on both sides of the hoop secured by drawing pins. It appears to be quite old, with the remaining original tuners appearing to made of bone (ivory?). The tuning keys were recently replaced with classical guitar tuners. Attached are 2 photos I received from the owner. Any help in identifying it would be appreciated.

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It's nice old banjo probably from 1870 - 80 though I'm no expert.The idea of fitting a skin/head/vellum on both sides of the hoop is unusual but not unique. The name of the manufacturer may be inside the hoop, stamped on a usually, square pole, which is attached to the neck of the instrument and which prevents the tension of the strings from distorting the hoop. The banjo is well made and has a hint of what is known as 'Tunbridge Ware' on the fingerboard, close up photographs of this would be useful. Bear in mind that even if you remove the skin to gain access to the interior, there is no guarantee that the banjo will bear a makers mark.

Thanks, Richard. 

Richard William Ineson said:

It's nice old banjo probably from 1870 - 80 though I'm no expert.The idea of fitting a skin/head/vellum on both sides of the hoop is unusual but not unique. The name of the manufacturer may be inside the hoop, stamped on a usually, square pole, which is attached to the neck of the instrument and which prevents the tension of the strings from distorting the hoop. The banjo is well made and has a hint of what is known as 'Tunbridge Ware' on the fingerboard, close up photographs of this would be useful. Bear in mind that even if you remove the skin to gain access to the interior, there is no guarantee that the banjo will bear a makers mark.

Hello Edward, Your friend has a VERY rare and unusual TunbridgeWare Banjo. I have several in my collection but NOT one

like this. It may be more correct to call the inlay " Parquetry, " as the pattern is more Geometric.. The tacks used are 

furniture tacks, to hols the velum in place.

Keith

Hello Keith, thank you for the information. I see there are a few photos on the internet of TunbridgeWare banjos. I have not heard of them before.

Keith Wilson said:

Hello Edward, Your friend has a VERY rare and unusual TunbridgeWare Banjo. I have several in my collection but NOT one

like this. It may be more correct to call the inlay " Parquetry, " as the pattern is more Geometric.. The tacks used are 

furniture tacks, to hols the velum in place.

Keith

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