Four-String Fretless Banjo

Description (Brief)
This banjo was made by an unknown maker in Marengo County, Alabama around 1850-1884. It was collected in in 1884 in Marengo County, Alabama by Dr. Edward Palmer for the Smithsonian's "frontier collection.” Although roughly made, with whittled tuning pegs and a tacked-on untanned animal skin head, the grooves worn into the fretless neck show that it was well used. The banjo is a typical example of many homemade instruments that used locally available materials to make instruments which could produce powerful results in the hands of a skilled musician.
Currently not on view
Object Name
date made
overall: 35 in x 11 1/2 in x 2 3/4 in; 88.9 cm x 29.21 cm x 6.985 cm
overall: 34 1/2 in x 11 3/8 in x 2 1/2 in; 87.63 cm x 28.8925 cm x 6.35 cm
place made
United States: Alabama, Marengo county
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
See more items in
Culture and the Arts: Musical Instruments
Music & Musical Instruments
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
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