I picked this up a few years ago and have been stalling to scan it based on the way it was bound and printed.  There has been some zither banjo talk lately over on BHO and Facebook.  Somehow the idea that Temlett "invented" the zither banjo in the late 1860s is now a thing that is being kicked around.

With that nonsense floating around, I figured it was time to make this available.  The scan is quick and dirty but readable (if you consider Cammeyer's self aggrandizing readable). 


I also got my hands on a photo copy of Cammeyer's "Cultivation of the Hands" which people might find useful.


Views: 265

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion


This is a brief article from 1884 referring to a patent for some form of suspended pot.     

Temlett's knockoff of the Henry Dobson closed back banjo is not in dispute.

nick langton said:


This is a brief article from 1884 referring to a patent for some form of suspended pot.     

Yes, although it would be interesting to see the original Temlett patent if it still exists somewhere and to what extent it may have differed from Dobson's design and the typical later zither banjos.     


The problem of burden of proof arises as there is never any mention to the magic combination of wire/gut strings, tunneled string, or machine pegs in any of the pre Cammeyer Temlett claims. 

Thus- not a "zither banjo".

Even in Temlett's version of S. S. Stewart's "The Banjo" book, published in 1888, Temlett mentions nothing that could be interpreted as the zither banjo, kind of a big oversight considering how unique and specific the zither banjo is.

To recap, yes, Temlett made closed back banjos based on the Dobson patent.  Cammeyer developed the zither banjo.  Those two things might be related when it comes to post Cammeyer production zither banjos but the claim that Temlett was the originator of the zither banjo does not stand scrutiny. 

When this claim is made, and I ask for supporting documentation, I am either directed to some website called "Creek Don't Rise" or I am provided with the Temlett knockoff of the Dobson closed back patent. 

Could you please be more specific? What is it that is denied? What exactly is the class distinction you are referring to? Perhaps there is some coded language in both the article and your comment on it  that the British members of this forum will understand but the rest of us may not (?) The article implies that banjo performers cannot be from the middle or upper classes. Based on what I read in your other posts I'm guessing that you are saying that there is a stubborn opinion that in the earliest days of banjo in England  there was no interest in banjo in any social class except amongst those who were professional players. And the article implies that there are 4 classes in England: upper, middle, working class, and banjo players.  I must have that wrong.
Mike Bostock said:

Personally I think the gold nugget in the article Nick posted doesn’t relate to patents. It is the contemporary writer’s anecdotal identification of a specific social class distinction in regard to the predominant pattern of uptake of the early banjo in England. It is an association that even the most cursory study reveals is shot through the historical record like a stick of Brighton rock. Yet the overwhelming evidence for this key social context for the early English banjo is peculiarly still denied by some. When in fact social context is absolutely fundamental to any understanding of early banjo playing in England; far more so than an obsessively singular focus on the technology of the instrument.

Mike, thanks for taking the time and effort to answer my questions, which have been answered, partially indirectly, through my remembering that England and the USA are "divided by a common language" . I understood neither what was being said in the article, nor your response to the article until I read both again through a different lens. The writer of the article does not actually mention the working class by name. He mentions the class that had been the almost exclusive players of the banjo without actually naming  or otherwise identifying the class. Now I realize the context:  at the time at which that sentence was written it was widely understood that the banjo was played by working class people in England. 

But on first reading I thought that since he had already made a statement revealing himself to be a snob, having said that the banjo had only a small claim to being a musical instrument, he was being facetious and was postulating a fourth class: banjo players.  It didn't seem clever to me nor did it make sense.  

You in turn, may possibly have not understood my main American question. Your detailed answers are about the importance and significance of social context in discussing music and provide a synopsis of class in England. That's well and good but not what I was asking about. My main question was and still is :  "what are you saying has been denied by some? "   I THINK that maybe you are saying that there was an early working class participation in making banjo music in England and that some people resist that idea.  Have I got that right?    And if so, why would there be resistance? Pretend I'm from another planet, not just another culture. By the way I have visited England many times and have directy experienced the class system as well as viewed it as an outsider.  My family history is part working class, part peasant, part total outsider, depending on the country and time period.

You are right that he doesn't infer that there was previously a class to which banjo playing was largely restricted,


What he does infer is that the class that had played banjo previously was the working class. He doesn't actually say so.  

Mike Bostock said:

Jody, to be even more specific in replying to your question the writer of the article does not infer, he actually states that the engagement with the early banjo in England was (in his words) 'almost exclusive' to the working class. 

Reply to Discussion


© 2024   Created by thereallyniceman.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service