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
banjo

 

 

 

 

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
Electric

 

 

 

 

 

 

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"
c.1930

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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
banjo

 

 

 

 

 

 

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,

Vol. XXVII

 

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
1890s
 

 

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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