The museum will be open Fridays through Tuesdays 11:00 a.m.–4 p.m. beginning Sept. 25. Reserve your free timed-entry pass and review our latest visitor safety guidelines.

Mather Five-String Fretless Banjo

Mather Five-String Fretless Banjo

<< >>
Usage conditions apply
Description (Brief)
This banjo is marked "F. P. Mather 1860." It is a five-string banjo with a bird’s-eye maple hoop, twenty brackets, brass-plated fingerboard, and machine tuners.

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 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 as well as the present arrangement of 20 head-tightening brackets are probably later 19th century additions.
Currently not on view
Object Name
date made
Mather, Fred P.
place made
United States: New York, New York City
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
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
Gift of Estate of Fred P. Mather through Adelaide Mather
See more items in
Cultural and Community Life: Musical Instruments
Music & Musical Instruments
Data Source
National Museum of American History
Nominate this object for photography.   

Our collection database is a work in progress. We may update this record based on further research and review. Learn more about our approach to sharing our collection online.

If you would like to know how you can use content on this page, see the Smithsonian's Terms of Use. If you need to request an image for publication or other use, please visit Rights and Reproductions.


Add a comment about this object