Some time ago Shawn brought up the Ossman Special that was advertised but was unknown as to what they were.

There is currently a large number of banjos up for auction, many of which have bad or incomplete information listed about them.

One of the listings is for a “S. S. Stewart banjo”...

https://www.liveauctioneers.com/item/105852123_ss-samuel-swain-stew...

but it is actually an Ossman special.  While it looks like a very nice banjo, it does not look like anything special to me.  Still pretty cool to see one though.

Too bad about those wire strings, looks like it has the old shim cram to try and simulate steel string action.  No telling what it has done to the dowel and heel.







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I've bid on one of the banjos and my cousin has bid on 2 mandolins, a guitar and a banjo. If either one of us win, I sure hope the instrument(s) survive the trip to the west coast. The auction house has sone friendly people who are good communicators and diligent in a number of ways but they don't seem to know much about string instruments.  

There are some remarkable looking banjos in this collection including one with (what might be) an all-metal hoop and NO dowel stick ("perch pole"). It doesn't seem to have been lost, just never had one. (?). hmmm,.......

Arthur Tilley of Surbiton used to make banjos with all metal hoops, his signature and address was engraved in beautiful 'copper plate' writing on the inside of the hoop. The metal used was aluminium, which was quite an expensive metal in the 1890s. I haven't seen one of his banjos for some years and I cannot remember if they had a perch pole/dowel stick. The 'Ossman Special' is an interesting instrument, let us hope that not too much damage has been done to it by its previous owners, the filth on the vellum is not encouraging in this regard.

Jody Stecher said:

I've bid on one of the banjos and my cousin has bid on 2 mandolins, a guitar and a banjo. If either one of us win, I sure hope the instrument(s) survive the trip to the west coast. The auction house has sone friendly people who are good communicators and diligent in a number of ways but they don't seem to know much about string instruments.  

There are some remarkable looking banjos in this collection including one with (what might be) an all-metal hoop and NO dowel stick ("perch pole"). It doesn't seem to have been lost, just never had one. (?). hmmm,.......

Yah, I've been thru the collection (online at the auction house) and there are some very interesting instruments in there, rare makers, etc.

However, the two "Lion" banjos offered (which are interesting to me) are both 'parts banjos'. One has replaced brackets all 'round...and one appears "too good to be true", with fancy inlay and high condition.

The auction house knows nothing about banjos, the descriptive statements are from the seller. I requested more information on the fancy Lion banjo and received essentially "the neck is thought to be original" (I don't think it is...).

Even if it is a parts banjo, it is still interesting to me. The tailpiece appears to conform to Middlebrooke's patent (patent holder for Lion Banjos) and is the first I've seen that is even remotely close. Frankly, that's valuable to me...but not something I'd throw a lot of money at. I've been thinking about making a reproduction of it myself anyway.

The ball brackets on this banjo look pretty good but mine are engraved (and many I've seen are also engraved). The nuts have all been replaced with 'dress protector' nuts...which may have been done in the period. The neck, however, looks like it is new...and I can't get the auction house to photograph the scalloped neck from the side. The scallops on Lion banjos have a unique profile...different from Van Eps' scallops. Also, Lion banjos have bar frets and this one appears to have tang frets.

So, Caveat Emptor. It may go for good money because it is pretty...

Also remarkable is that on each banjo item's web page are apparently contradictory statements about shipping. On the right it says that won items are shipped from New York, NY. On the left it says that United Parcel Service  in Patterson NJ (where the collection is located) is recommended.  Shipping is supposed to be arranged by the winning bidder. Contact info is given for UPS but how does a winner tell UPS where to pick up the banjo when that  address is not given?  Or does the auction house or Collection Custodian or *someone* bring the banjo to UPS?  It's all muddy. I have written to the auction house a few minutes ago. I expect they will reply and clarify the situation. Or maybe they'll further muddy-fy it.  One thing for sure: the banjo cannot walk to UPS.

Usually the auction house has all the contacts. You win the auction and make contact, arrange shipping, etc. Auction houses do this sort of thing all the time...but they don't describe the process very well!

I bought a car from an auction house once..and after the fact, asked "now how to I get it to Alabama?" They had it all sorted out, all I had to do was authorize shipment (which was reasonably priced).

For well known auction houses, it is just normal business. In this case, the banjos are all held at the owner's residence (at the moment). This auction will be online only. Viewing can be scheduled at the owner's house...in New Jersey. Getting your instrument out of their house is a source of error/mixups. The auction house will have someone there to handle it...but they're probably not banjo people and wouldn't know a Gibson from a Stewart. Ya gotta trust the owner to properly communicate with the auction folks.

Thanks Marc. I probably have nothing to worry about because I probably won't win. :-)

Trapdoor2 said:

Usually the auction house has all the contacts. You win the auction and make contact, arrange shipping, etc. Auction houses do this sort of thing all the time...but they don't describe the process very well!

I bought a car from an auction house once..and after the fact, asked "now how to I get it to Alabama?" They had it all sorted out, all I had to do was authorize shipment (which was reasonably priced).

For well known auction houses, it is just normal business. In this case, the banjos are all held at the owner's residence (at the moment). This auction will be online only. Viewing can be scheduled at the owner's house...in New Jersey. Getting your instrument out of their house is a source of error/mixups. The auction house will have someone there to handle it...but they're probably not banjo people and wouldn't know a Gibson from a Stewart. Ya gotta trust the owner to properly communicate with the auction folks.

LOL, I'm in the same boat. If I win whatever I'm bidding on, I'm usually surprised...and then I have to break the 'news' to Miz Diane...=8^0

Jody Stecher said:

Thanks Marc. I probably have nothing to worry about because I probably won't win. :-)

I'm put off by the auction.  I find it strange that they went with an auction house.  Perhaps it was to move them all at once?

They (and the buyers) would have been much better served if this was handled by one of the bigger vintage instrument sellers.   Bernunzio would have sent a truck to pick them all up, had the knowledge to price them correctly, pack and ship them safely, not to mention handling clean up and repairs.  

I don't like the "premium" charges. I get it, that is the way auctions are handled, I just don't like it and would rather have no part in it.  Ebay takes out of the final selling price.  The buyer does not get stuck with a charge of 25% on top.

And frankly, this Ossman Special is the only one of the bunch that interests me at all... and I can say that chances are if I bought it I'd likely not even play it.  The two FVE 5 strings are cool... but bowl and holes are a bit tinny for me.  Don't get me wrong, I'd like to rescue them from wire strings, but I am not interested in paying the auction fees  (seeing how the starting bids are where I think they should sell).

All the other stuff, yeah it is "rare" but meh. 

Update: the auction house got back to me. It turns out that some of the collection is in New Jersey at the home of the collector, some is in New York with the auction people and some is at least one other place. Banjos in which I have  an interest are in New Jersey. UPS is all set up to go and pick up a truckload at the appropriate time, pack them, and send them in all directions (or as an Eastern European luggage service  is said to have proclaimed in English :"We take your luggage and send it in all directions".  (or as British Airways used to sing ... well nearly...."Fly The Flag/ Lose Your Bag". Anyway since I expect to be outbid it probably doesn't affect me.  

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