Bill Michal         


Welcome! This site is dedicated to an extensive collection of high quality 5 string banjos, the vast majority of which were made between 1875 and 1915 in Boston. Basically, in lieu of a book, I am trying to provide the kind of information I wish had been available as a “primer” when I began collecting. Although it will help beginning students and collectors, it has also been designed for sophisticated banjo lovers. The written information is extensive and photos are numerous and can be enlarged (details in "Web Site Pointers") making it possible to scrutinize almost any feature of every banjo. The site also includes some banjo related collectibles. My major objectives are listed below under “Goals”. I hope the site will be fun, informative, and user-friendly. Input is solicited, especially to call my attention to errors. Enjoy !

Groups of Banjos     Web Site Goals     Carved Heels     Statues of Banjoists     Banjo Images     Collection Background

Mysteries: The information and images on this site will hopefully provide the answers to many basic questions about the banjos produced by the several Boston firms that I call the Fairbanks "family". Some questions will never be answered and others will be answerable only in the future. Preparing this site my curiosity was tantalized as I pondered what I consider a few of the more intriguing enigmas. If viewers have any theories I will be interested in hearing them. If you have actual answers I will be fascinated and most appreciative of your sharing them. Interesting information that relates to these matters (but not answers) will be found in the appropriate segments on this web site. Viewers are encouraged to submit other questions that I will attempt to answer or refer you to someone more knowledgeable. E-mail address is at the top of this page.

A) Fairbanks Electric No. 4 Model: Did such an apparently organized maker produce models using every number from 0 thru 6 except 4 or have we just failed to find a signed survivor or to recognize it if unsigned?

B) A true Fairbanks Company catalog: Surely one survives from one of the several Fairbanks firms doing business from 1890 until early 1904. Where is it hiding? What will it contain?

C) "VEGA" in an oval and a 2 digit number stamped on the dowel stick: What can be learned from these curiosities that were almost certainly made close to the time of the fire and Vega's purchase of the Fairbanks Company and its patents? Why don't these numbers parallel serial numbers? To what do they refer? Why do several banjos display the same numbers?

D) True fretless Fairbanks & Cole banjos: With the partnership in business from 1879 until 1890, why have so few examples been seen?   


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