This is an 1890s "factory banjo" I just finished restoring.
There is no 'before' picture because there wasn't really a banjo before this. When I found it, the instrument was basically a bucket of parts. The wooden/metal rim was not attached to the neck. There were no tuners to be found. Many of the hooks and shoes were loose, some were missing. In the basement and looking at all these pieces was almost like being in the Utah desert looking at animal bones. I had to figure out what I had, how they fit together, and what parts I needed to make the thing whole again.
The banjo I worked on does not have any marking that it was from the Buckbee factory, but it has characteristics that are very similar to banjos that do. But, Buckbee also sold parts to other makers and dealers, who could easily put it together and sell it as their own.
C. Bruno and Son dealt in all kinds of instruments. I looked through their catalog from the 1890s to see if I could find one similar to mine. The one above has a similar peg-head shape, the heel (where the neck meets the rim) is the right 'boat' shape, the shoes and hooks that hold the skin head on are the same, and the decorative pieces on the fingerboard (inlay) are the same. The only thing that doesn't quite match is that these banjos have 38 shoes, while the one I have only has 32. But, these banjos would have been similar in price to mine when new. Which means that you could get a brand-new banjo of decent quality for about $250.
Check out all of Bruno's offerings in his catalog and Philip Gura and James Bollman's book on the history of the banjo.
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