On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 681

This homemade banjo is of the simplest possible construction. The whittled walnut neck has a fretless fingerboard and rectangular peghead. Whereas the tuning peg for the short 5th string is virtually always located adjacent to the 5th fret on fretted banjos, the 5th string tuning peg of this banjo is mounted approximately at the midpoint of the neck. The skin head is stretched over the steam-bent wooden rim and held permanently in place with tacks mounted through a narrow wood hoop. This assembly is similar in construction to common contemporary household containers such as round sieves and cheese boxes. According to nineteenth-century correspondence, this example was made by an African American in Georgia, which is significant because there are very few existing banjos that are documented to have been produced by an African American in the nineteenth century. (Peter Szego, 2020)

Banjo, Wood, goatskin, American

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