Zither banjos and ordinary banjos
By nguiver, Nov 19 2020 04:21PM
Soon after the end of American Civil War (1865) intensive development of the banjo started in both the USA and England. In London William Temlett (Snr) had established a workshop in 1864, and he patented the idea of a closed back banjo with a suspended sound box in 1869.
The biggest influence on the development of the banjo from the European side came from the Zither. The Morning Post London May 1849 records ... Max Homeier the celebrate Zither performer was resident in the Strand and available to be booked by Gentry and Nobility for Parties, Dejeuners and Concerts.
an instrument emanating from the Tyrol region (of the Alps) “appears to be a sort of guitar with metallic strings laid flat upon a table"
24th Nov 1883 in The Era, Alf Wood, Negro Comedian, banjo Soloist is sole agent for The Temlett Banjo. The Severn Oaks Chronical in December 1892 reported that Mr Arthur Doody received a well-earned encore for his zither banjo solo “Home Sweet Home”
The zither banjo created a totally different type of sound with its steel strings, closed back and geared tuners and in 9 years the description "zither banjo" had come into general use.
Having identified there was a clear difference in sound on 14th Sept 1897 W Covill Cheltenham advertised WE Temlett high class Zither and ordinary Banjos.
At its peak Arthur Wilmshurst was consistently producing the best quality zither banjos; his metal fretwork cover to the wooden pot kept the pot perfectly circular so the action never suffered, he still used the neck clamp (as used on ordinary banjos ..) on the internal perch pole (dowel stick), a thick ebony fret board and laminated peg head.
For tailpieces: Michael Holmes article on Mugwumps
Antique/Vintage Banjos at auction Collectors Weekly
Banjoleles on David Sims Ukulele Corner
Hank Schwartz site on the history of Fairbanks