Mather Five-String Fretless Banjo

Mather Five-String Fretless Banjo

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Description (Brief)

This banjo is marked "F. P. Mather 1860." It is a Five-String Fretless Banjo, with a bird’s-eye maple shell, metal hoop, twenty brackets, brass-plated fingerboard, and machine tuners. Hand-written inscription on dowel stick:

F. MATHER MAKER 1860

Fred Mather was a well-known minstrel banjoist of the mid-19th century.

Like banjos marketed under the name of other well-known performers such as the Dobsons, this instrument was likely actually made in the New York factory of the Buckbee company. It is typical of mid-century commercial instruments in having a fretless neck, gut strings and a bentwood rim. The machine tuners and inlaid brass plate are probably later 19th century additions, along with the present arrangement of head-tightening brackets.

Location
Currently not on view
Object Name
banjo
date made
1860
maker
Mather, Fred P.
place made
United States: New York, New York City
Physical Description
wood (overall material)
metal (overall material)
animal skin (overall material)
Measurements
overall: 34 in x 12 1/4 in x 3 1/2 in; 86.36 cm x 31.115 cm x 8.89 cm
ID Number
MI.207888
catalog number
207888
accession number
37279
Credit Line
Gift of Estate of Fred P. Mather through Adelaide Mather
subject
Music
See more items in
Cultural and Community Life: Musical Instruments
Music & Musical Instruments
Banjos
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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