Banjo Images                                                     wsbi

As the banjo's popularity skyrocketed, images of the instrument grew to be very common. These images were created for many different purposes and presented in numerous and varied forms. Included here are items from my collection of banjo ephemera that I hope will interest visitors to this web site. I have divided them into early photographs and other forms. Those not already familiar with the early processes of photography can read a very concise account on pages XV and XVI in the Gura & Bollman book, "America's Instrument".

A) Photographs:

Being interested in, and a casual collector of, early photographs in general and intrigued with "all things banjo", I am fascinated by their remarkably contemporaneous development. Invented in 1839 in France by Louis Daguerre, amazingly, commercial photography had reached our shores by 1840. At that time many banjos were still made from gourds but the birth of minstrel shows rapidly and tremendously spread the instrument's popularity and stimulated the need for sturdier and easier to produce construction. As a result of these parallel developments, the earliest photographs, called Daguerreotypes, were picturing some of the very earliest banjos ever manufactured. By the 1850s when photography was advancing to the Ambrotype process, makers of banjos were springing up in various northeastern cities. The next few decades led to several new and improved techniques to faithfully record the progressive development and eventual standardization of the instrument.

Shown below are some of the favorites of my banjo images captured by various early phases of photography.

B) Others:

As a result of its soaring popularity, the banjo began to show up everywhere and on nearly everything imaginable. Many widely divergent examples are shown below.


 A) Photographs:


Daguerreotype 1850s 1/4 plate
By Anson of NYC Pictured in
Ring the Banjar, page 10 Early
banjo w. large pot



Ambrotype 1860s 1/6 plate
Large early banjo w. 6 brackets,
shaped peghead, and large
wooden tailpiece


Ferrotype 1870s 1/6 plate
Neck of banjo is cut away at rim




Ferrotype 1870s 1/6 plate
Inverted banjo w. frets, spun
rim, and ebony tuners




Ferrotype 1880s 1/6 plate
Drab banjo Who can identify
the long white object in the
other man's hand?




Ferrotype 1880s 1/6 plate
Wish I had a recording of
their music!





Ferrotype 1870-80s 71/2"x53/4"
"Busy" outdoor scene w. banjoist
at center



Ferrotype 1880s 1/6 plate
Brackets galore !




Carte de visite 1860s Fas-
cinating banjo w. concave peghead,
ivory tuners, fancy tailpiece, and
a plaque at the end of the board




Stereo Card 1870-80s
Amateur view in music shop
Likely unique One half of a pair
shot in same site Note artistic

rendering of banjos on front
of cabinet at left

Stereo Card 1890s Banjo looks much earlier Black man w.

youngster in blackface




Cabinet Card 1880-90s Five
Stewart banjos w. mother's
fancier than others Well-known
entertainer family, the Shepards


Cabinet Card 1890s Banjo
is "Pony" size w. rim of about
9" Ivory or celluloid tuners
and tailpiece




Silver Print 1902 Stewart





Silver Print c.1900 "Banjo
Bill" Bowen at left w. a different banjo than prior photo





Silver Print c.1910 Banjo-
mandolin w. fancy metal tail-
piece Named on back as
"Jas. A. Meyer", 3 y. o.






B) Others:

Original oil painting 13 " x 27 "
By Carrie H. Jackson (signed)
Dated May, 1893 The frets stop
part way up the neck & the notch
cut out of the neck convince me the
banjo was an actual one seen by
the artist



Original pencil sketch 22" x 15 "
1990 By Willard Gayheart
Pegheads of 6 of my banjos




Chromolithograph print

10 " x 7 1/4"  1880s

"A Yachting Party"




Lithograph 7 3/4" x 4 15/16"
Dated 1889 "Perfectly Happy"
Banjo w. giant rim & plaque at
end of board








Newspaper print 13 1/4" x 9"
Dated 1882 "The Pastor's Visit"
1881 painting by Richard N. Brooke
Harper's Weekly, Vol. XXVI





Newspaper print 14 " x 10"
Dated 1888 "Reminiscence of White
Sulphur Springs" Drawn by C. S.
Reinhart Harper's Weekly,

Vol. XXXII                                       




Sheet Music Cover 13 " x 9 "
1840s British
Pictures R. Bishop Buckley






Sheet Music Cover

13 1/4" x 10 1/8"
1853 American
Pictures Earl H. Peirce








Book Cover 6 " x 4 3/4"
1888 The Banjo by S. S. Stewart
The classic treatise by the world's
prime promoter of the banjo








Mug 5"
c.1915 Warwick Pottery
Marked "10GA" (? Sept.1914)








Cigarette Card 2 3/4" x 1 "
1890s Pictures prominent
entertainer, Theresa Vaughn,
playing her Fairbanks No. 2







Trade Card 4 " x 2 3/4"
1880s Advertising product by
Fairbanks & Cole Co.



Calendar top 9" x 4 1/4"
c.1905 Advertising product by
Singer Sewing Machine Co.



Banjo string wrapper 2 7/8" x 2 5/8"
1890s Naples Banjo String Co.






Minstrel Black 4 3/4"








Snuff Tin 4 7/8"
Date uncertain
"Banjo Scotch Snuff" U. S. Tobacco
Co., Nashville, Tenn.







Tobacco Tag 1 " x 5/8"
Metal Date uncertain
"Schoolfield's Joe Bowers"
Danville, Va.


Tobacco Tag 1"
Metal Date uncertain
"Old Va. Reel"



Ambrotype 1857 1/6 plate
Great early banjo Sign on pot
states, "J. S. Little, 1857"
Hand tinted Very rare to find
dated Ambro.


Ferrotype 1870-80s 1/6 plate
Great social content w. White lad
pondering Black banjoist



Ferrotype 1880s 1/6 plate
Banjo is a Stewart w. No. 2
inlay pattern 5th tuner is
apparently metal, rest are ivory
or celluloid Note patch on knee
and neat wicker seat


Ferrotype 1880s 1/6 plate
Inverted fretless banjo w. 20
brackets, large rim, and
wooden tailpiece




Ferrotype 1870-80s 1/6 plate
Banjo frets extend only part
way up the neck





Ferrotype 1870-80s 1/6 plate
Banjo has neck cut away where
it joins the large rim, wooden
tailpiece Note the rocking horse




Ferrotype 1880s 1/6 plate
6 string fretted banjo w. ivory
tuners, large rim, and large
decorative inlays



Ferrotype 1870s 1/6 plate
A diverse quartet.




Carte de visite May 3, 1865
Fretless early banjo w. plaque at
end of the board and a large
wooden tailpiece Dated by
hand-cancelled revenue stamp on
back Name, "John Snograss"



Stereo Card 1890s
Banjo appears to be much
earlier and to have 6 strings

Cabinet Card 1890s Banjo
w. interesting peghead and
tailpiece Banjeaurine w. spun
rim, extended board, and
big rim as was typical early



Cabinet Card 1880-90s Now
five matching Stewart banjos
Same entertainer family, the
Shepards about 2-3 years later


Cabinet Card 1890s Same
banjo and same lovely lass
as prior photo




Silver Print c.1900 Stewart
Orchestra No. 3 banjo
Well-known entertainer,
"Banjo Bill" Bowen




Silver Print c.1900






Hand Tinted photograph
1890s 9" x 7" Lady w.
Fairbanks Electric No. 5 or 6







Minstrel show program 9" x6"
Dated Jan. 1908 Mass. Exact
same rendering Calculate the
odds on this: 11 months after I
got the painting, a banjo friend
saw this on ebay & bought it for
me !



Chromolithograph print 30" x 24"
Dated 1876 Eastman Johnson
painting, "The Old Kentucky Home"




Lithograph 10 1/4" x 6 3/4"
Dated 1891 Artist, A. B. Frost
Print by Goupil Co., Paris


Newspaper print 8" x 10 "
Dated May 1887 "The Whistler"
Drawn by J. H. Moser Front cover
of Harper's Young People Weekly




Newspaper print 13 1/8" x 8 7/8"
1880s "Echoes of Old Plantation
Melodies" Drawn by W. L. Sheppard Harper's Weekly,



Broadside 22" x 8"
1860s Skiff & Gaylord's Minstrels




Sheet Music Cover 13 " x 10 1/4"
1846 Ameican Pictures major
banjo pioneer, Wm. Whitlock



Booklet Cover 6 7/8" x 4 1/8"
c.1900 Morley's Wonderful
Eight Songster, 32 pages alternating
songs and medical claims




Stein 7 "
c. 1910 German, possibly by
Mettlach (1836-1921)
Florida motif




Postcard c.1915
Vega Co. product featuring a
lovely lady holding the "new"
Tubaphone No. 3 banjo




Trade Card 4 3/16" x 3 3/16"
1880s Advertising product by
Fairbanks & Cole Co. One of
a set of four




Die-cut pair 6 " tall


Banjo string wrapper & box lid
Wrapper 3" x 3" c.1900
John F. Stratton (1860-1914),
NYC music dealer


Tobacco Tin c.1900
3 3/4" x 3 3/4" x 2 1/4"
Pictures Polk Miller who was a
major stage entertainer
after the Civil War.


Tobacco Keg Label 12 5/8" x 6 5/8"
c.1900 These were inserted inside
the keg lid


Tobacco Tag 2 7/8" x 1"
Paper Date uncertain
"Banjo Club " Tobacco
Venable Co. Petersburg, Va.




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