I have been slowly adding scans of BMG magazines that have been kindly loaned to me since I created the John Field Memorial LIBRARY. 

Tony Bryan (and his friend Tapis d'Orient) sent John's collection that was originally posted and since then I have received BMG copies from all over the world, so big thanks you to all who have contributed.

Today I am pleased to announce a really special update to the LIBRARY that has come from a collection inherited some time ago by site member  Mike Redman and in turn loaned to our friend Richard Ineson.  Richard and I had discussed scanning some VERY early BMGs and over the last few weeks I have scanned and cleaned up many rather crispy and faded magazines, dating back to the Second monthly edition that was published in November 1903.

Many of the magazines uploaded were published in the run up to and during World War One. It is interesting to see all the references to banjoists in action with the Army and Navy around the world. You can tell that as the months and years of the War progressed the publishing materials were becoming more scarce. The quality of the paper used dropped and the number of pages reduced, but the worse problem is that the paper became tissue paper thin, almost transparent, which makes scanning a real nightmare! The other problem is that the paper, probably due to lack of additives, has turned brown and brittle, so handling these early mags is a delicate job. 

Fortunately, with the help of Photoshop, I have managed to clean up and de-dog ear the pages and the scanned editions are now online for FREE download as PDFs.

Enjoy them, as they are a very interesting insight to Classic Banjo at the time when the Banjo was KING!

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Wow. Thank you Ian and Richard.  This surely was a labor of love and took a good deal of time and effort. I look forward to perusing these ancient pages. 

yes yes ; THank you  , great  job

Thanks chaps, yes labour of love, yes tedious, yes mind numbing, but worth it.

These soldiers even took their BMG to war!

Thank you to Ian for your hard work, and to Mike and Richard!  And of course our departed friend, John.  That was a nice thing John did, thinking of perpetuating classic banjo this way.

This is INCREDIBLE.....

I hope we can fill in all the missing issues some day.

Lots of reading to do now.....

Thank you to everyone involved with this!!!!!!!!

Well done Ian, a very tedious and time consuming job, we are all in your debt. I understand that the similar work on the SS Stewart magazines was done by inmates of the USA prisons, I suppose that it would be quite a cushy little job if you are in prison, better than 'picking oakum' or the  treadmill. The contents of the magazines are of great interest and show how popular the banjo was at the time. It would be good to get Cammeyer's 'Banjo World' scanned as well, the paper that magazine was printed on was really poor quality, so time is running out for that publication. I've only got a few issues and never seen any for sale in the last 30 years, so if anybody has got any hidden away now is the time to share them with the banjo world.

I'm very much looking forward to the Banjo World scans if you make them available, Richard....

That is indeed an elusive publication, and much coveted.

Thank you again for your kindness to share, Richard.

This is fantastic work!!!!

BTW, I found that "Mr. Jollyboy" was indeed named for, and inspired by, the dancing toy (this was a previous discussion).

Thanks Chris, I am certainly going to make my few copies of the 'Banjo World' available for scanning, and I can also fill a few of the gaps in the B.M.G.s from the 20s and 30s. I'm a great believer in making everything accessible to all and of course we mustn't forget Ian who is doing all of the work and making it all possible.

The British Library has a good run of the 'Banjo World' which is currently in their premises in Leeds, it might be a good idea to contact them and see if they would loan us their copies for scanning as they re unlikely to be doing it themselves.

Chris Cioffi said:

I'm very much looking forward to the Banjo World scans if you make them available, Richard....

That is indeed an elusive publication, and much coveted.

Thank you again for your kindness to share, Richard.

I have this one :-)

Thanks, Richard.

I am battling with some demons (internal and external....enough said) about making my classic banjo recordings collection available....but I won't have time to do anything in that regard for at least a year....which gives me time to think.

The National Library also has all the BMG's.  I emailed them about this last week when i saw that John Field has posted about perusing them there in person in years past before he passed.

Their website says allow 2 business days for an answer...so far over a week and nothing heard back yet.

They seem to be concentrating on scanning all newspapers from UK from 1700's on, so as you say, banjo periodicals are likely at the bottom of their list.

Perhaps someone in the UK could make contact and offer some sort of service "for" them to make it attractive to them to have them scanned to a careful outsource person.  Being in TN, USA, this is obviously not a project for me.

Thank you again, deeply, Richard.

And yes, I try to thank Ian every chance I can.  I can't thank him enough for his comraderie, and all his efforts.  The thread a couple years ago about his scanning operation was very enlightening, and I know Joel has a similar fancy, albeit tedious, set up for same activities stateside.

And of course, THANK YOU to Joel....for just being Joel and for doing all he does.

I appreciate all of you.   Maybe I can show my appreciation at some point in a more concrete way after my big life change that is underway is all over....I can't wait, I'm worn out.

In the meantime....

Tally Ho!


Fantastic Ian,

What a great resource the John Field BMG Library has proved to be and cannot wait for the period 1903 -1910 to be filled. I so appreciate the time and effort in the scanning, cleaning and rebuilding of these issues as I have spent the last 25 years cleaning up manuscripts from the 15th cent on -- from manual photo/photocopy using Tippex to digitisation and Photoshop.

My Parslow Banjo Register (see links) has now grown to 42 pages when to my surprise browsing through the BMG November 1911 issue, page 22, a picture with not only one Parslow banjo but at least four!!

It would have been great to see more definition to be able to identify the particular banjos -- maybe I have one or two. Another thought was as to what happened to the players, as it was only three years before The Great War.

Also looking forward to seeing scans of ‘Banjo World’.


Hi Edward,

The scanning and processing has to be a compromise, as you will be aware. Original page scans files sizes can be massive so a full magazine of 32-40 pages will end up being enormous. At least the cleaning and compressing makes the magazines more legible as many have not aged well and many having text so faded and paper so browned that the words are not distinguishable from the tea cup stains :-)

Photoshop allows setting to grayscale, which drastically reduces the file size as colour information is discarded, and also allows black and white level settings that improves the contrast. I hope I have the balance just about correct as I am not re-scanning 500 magazines that has already consumed 6 months of my life ;-)

I have attached the original scan straight from the BMG to compare with your sepia toned and edited one. I agree that it would have been nice to identify the instruments, but the photograph clarity is just not good enough. (Click photo to enlarge)

ps. No Tippexing for me, thank goodness, but I do keep a few bottles handy to sniff when I need a lift ;-)))


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