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.. was born in Bethnal Green, London to a father who was a mason living in Emma Street.  Emma Street was redevloped and the familly moved away and by age 21 (1881) he was just married and was registered as a screw turner.   He was known as George Coker and within 10 years had 3 children and was registered as a banjo maker.  

 

Again his work changed and he became a French polisher and subsequently by 1910, living in Islington, N London and was registered as a celluloid case maker, and had started using William again as his first name.

 

The banjo-making firm of W. G. Coker & Co. of London was, in the beginning, a partnership between W. G. Coker and G. H. Young;  sometime prior to 1886 for in that year they took out a patent for "doing away with the necessity of drilling holes in the banjo hoop for the shoes" by using a "ring, angular in section something like the figure 7", this being either "hooked on to the hoop or attached by means of a flange turned round at the lower edge of the hoop." It is also interesting to note that in the patent specification they also suggested a flanged bezel - an idea used by several modern makers of banjos both in America and England.

 

The banjos these two craftsman made were extremely heavy instruments, solidly built and all with a short scale length of about 14 inchs. They were fitted with Coker's own patent non-slip pegs which had a knurled adjusting screw at the top to tighten the mechanism and, if necessary, lock it. Coker's "trade mark" was a large raised metal star fixed to the face of the peg head on which the name Coker was-punched in.

 

Young eventually left, and the name of the firm was changed to W G Coker & Son with the address of 41 Melville Road, London, E.17.  

 

Images courtesy of Bill Cannon

William George Coker 1860 - 1940

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