Makers alphabetically

Soon after the end of American Civil War (1865) intensive development of the banjo started in both the USA and England. In London William Temlett (Snr) had established a workshop in 1864, and he patented the idea of a closed back banjo with a suspended sound box in 1869.

The biggest influence on the development of the banjo from the European side came from the Zither. The Morning Post London May 1849 records ... Max Homeier the celebrate Zither performer was resident in the Strand and available to be booked by Gentry and Nobility for Parties, Dejeuners and Concerts.

J W Sweeny, the 1st or perhaps the 3rd?

1842 .. John Tyler was US President, slavery was not going to be abolished in the USA for another 23 years . 7 years earlier was the battle of Alamo in the Texas War for Independence, Charles Dickens was writing his American Notes: and the banjo had arrived in England through Liverpool.

Earlier in 1834 reference to a banjo appeared in the Dublin Weekly Mail with the immortal line “ ‘ O! corn-stalks and Jews harps!” said Daemon after worrying on his seat during the .. overture by the orchestra; “Will they tune their banjos all night, and never get to playin?”

26th January 1839 The Leeds Times advertised The Royal Illusionists Address which included The Unequalled ANTI-FANDANGO-DANCE. Banjo jig and Jim Crow Jump Dance, by a "New Laid Egg". James Low had been performing this very same banjo/dance show in New York in March 1838.

26th February 1842 ER Harper, the American Comedian was performing at the Royal Amphitheatre, Liverpool in a production called The Court Jester, for 10 days. He is credited with writing “Jim Along Josey” in 1838, and later in his schedule he was on stage at the Queens Theatre Liverpool on the 22nd October 1842 playing his Louisiana Banjo Melodies, on his New- invented Banjo .. songs like Lucy Lucy Long and Jim along Josey .. as originally introduced by him on both sides of the Atlantic.

In March 1842 JW Sweeny made the crossing from New York to Liverpool with The American Circus. Their first performance was also in the Royal Amphitheatre, Liverpool on 28th March. The show was made up of horse riding skills and gymnastic exercises interspersed with other performers.

Sweeny’s role was to entertain the crowd during intervals and on Thursday 31st March 1842 “The Liverpool Mail” reported .. A company of equestrians arrived from the United States …. We have only space to notice the racy and original negro singing of Mr Sweeny, who accompanied himself on the banjo, or mandolin. His instrumentation is excellent and his self-possession, while the house was convulsed with laughter …, was irresistibly comic ... encored three times.

ER Harper was an established comedian who wrote for and played the banjo, and bought the banjo into the UK one month before Sweeny. However Sweeny was part of a major tour and was primarily a banjo performer and dancer and gained faster recognition on the instrument than Harper.

Clearly they got to see each other’s performances as they we both in Liverpool at the same time at the beginning and end of 1842, and played some of the same tunes.

The rhetoric in the advertisements for their subsequent performances grows through the year as they both try to claim to be “the first”, and they were by no means the only ones performing the music of the American Negro.

However, it now appears that James Low (Uncle Jim Lowe?) was 3 years ahead of them both.

"Zither banjos and ordinary banjos."

an instrument emanating from the Tyrol region (of the Alps) “appears to be a sort of guitar with metallic strings laid flat upon a table"

24th Nov 1883 in The Era, Alf Wood, Negro Comedian, banjo Soloist is sole agent for The Temlett Banjo. The Severn Oaks Chronical in December 1892 reported that Mr Arthur Doody received a well-earned encore for his zither banjo solo “Home Sweet Home”

The zither banjo created a totally different type of sound with its steel strings, closed back and geared tuners and in 9 years the description "zither banjo" had come into general use.

Having identified there was a clear difference in sound on 14th Sept 1897 W Covill Cheltenham advertised WE Temlett high class Zither and ordinary Banjos.
At its peak Arthur Wilmshurst was consistently producing the best quality zither banjos; his metal fretwork cover to the wooden pot kept the pot perfectly circular so the action never suffered, he still used the neck clamp (as used on ordinary banjos ..) on the internal perch pole (dowel stick), a thick ebony fret board and laminated peg head.

Wilked full front

recent research + updates

more Clamp research
more Strebe pictures
Lund pictures
New maker Sulley
Ball, Bevan research
Cubley pictures
Pelton Pictures
Strebe Pictures
CE Dobson pictures
Dayton pictures
Henning pictures
Butler pictures
Howe pictures
Etherington new maker
Parker research
Waldo pictures
Schall pictures
Spratt research
Kohler research
Skinner pictures
Matthew research
Skinner JW research
Winder research
Schmick pictures
Rickett pictures
Stratton pictures
Farris Pictures
Boosey research
Farris research
Tilley research
Luscomb pictures
Dallas Pony pictures
Taylor of Liverpool research Stromberg Voisinet
Chicago Music Company
Winder new pictures
Bostock new Pictures
Tonk Bros. Research
TW Bacon pictures
Duffin new maker
Winder pictures
Leedy Hollander research
New link
Deane research
Bruno research
Clamp pictures
Hudson research
Thomas Upcott
Favilla pictures
Clamp new research
Brewster pictures
Bruno Pictures
Noelsch maker
Spencer Pictures
Ditson pictures
National Banjos
Boosey pictures
Taylor of Liverpool Pics
Gretsch pictures
More Bree Pictures
Wallis research & pictures
Bree Pictures
Gretsch pictures
Wilkes pictures
Gibson TB pictures
Shevill pictures
MacCord picture links
Skinner pictures
Lion pictures & research
Dayton corrections and link
Gariepy pictures
Link to Bob Smakula
Jedson pictures
Wilmshurst research & pictures
Jas Morrison pictures
Goodman research
Keith, Prowse research & pictures
Coker pictures
Pidoux research
Dennis research & picture
Ebblewhite research
Coker research
Wurlitzer pictures
Wilkes research
TW Bacon research
Butler research
Bradbury research
Liberty Co. research
Douglas Co research
Houghton research
Butler research
Boosey research
van Allen research
Bertolle research
Barnes & Mullins research
R J Ward research
T Lyons pictures
Clerc pictures & research
Plumbridge research & pictures
Research TW Bacon
T Lyons research
Howard pictures
Henning pictures & research
Additional Wilmshurst pictures
Addition of Pictures Hardy, link to Williamson
Addition of Pictures Grimshaw
Addition of pictures of Ball, Beavon & Co
Research into Williamson
Addition of Jetel pictures
Addition of Tilley pictures
Research into Temlett’s
Addition of Houdlet pictures
Research into Ward & Jordan
Jordan Pictures
Wilkes Research
Kemp research & Pictures
Crosby research & Pictures
Merriman pictures & research

Vintage Banjo Maker
475,000 hits in 3 years from scratch ..
Thanks for your support.
if you want to be on our new LINKS page
please contact us

flag canada

Site Statistics

Launched 31st Dec 2012
As at 31st Dec 2015
Hits to date: 475,201
recent daily hits: 677

Copyright © 2012-15

german flag
French flag
union jack

You are viewing the text version of this site.

To view the full version please install the Adobe Flash Player and ensure your web browser has JavaScript enabled.

Need help? check the requirements page.

Get Flash Player