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This picture is of four banjos that came from the workbench of the master craftsman, Alfred Weaver. They are in the collection of Tony Bryan and John Field.
From left to right:
1. Nominal 12 inch diameter, 2¾ inch deep hoop, 19 frets, 24 brackets, mahogany and ebony arm, stamped 'A. Weaver Maker London WC' on the front and back of the dowel stick. It has a floating ebony tailpiece.
2. Nominal 11 inch diameter, 2¾ inch deep hoop, 22 frets, 22 brackets, mahogany and ebony arm, is stamped 'CE SPECIAL' and has a 'Clifford Essex Co 15A Grafton St Bond Street London W' label on the front of the dowel stick. It came with a 'Reliance' tooled leather case.
3. Nominal 10½ inch diameter, 2½ inch deep hoop, 22 frets, 22 brackets, walnut and ebony arm with a contrasting wood veneer between the walnut and the ebony, stamped 'CLIFFORD ESSEX 15A GRAFTON STREET W' on the front of the dowel stick. It has a plated CE lyre tailpiece.
4. Nominal 10½ inch diameter, 2½ inch deep hoop, 22 frets, 22 brackets, mahogany and ebony arm, stamped ESSEX & CAMMEYER 59.PICCADILLY LONDON. W 1862' on the front of the dowel stick. The stamping appears to be over a previous stamp of 'CAMMEYER'. It has a floating ebony tailpiece.
The diameters have been given as 'nominal' because they are never exactly the round number but are commonly referred to by these dimensions.
All four have the characteristic square nuts of a Weaver throughout, though the 12 inch model has closed nuts over the brackets on the inside of the hoop.
They all date from the late 19th to early 20th century, and possibly appeared together in the CE shop window arranged as shown (no harm in dreaming!).
All four are in excellent playing condition and can be heard when John and Tony give their (rare as hen's teeth) public performances.
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