... , was born James Thomas Parslow in 1849 and learned woodcraft as an apprentice at Burggones, the Kingiston Surrey, motor-launch builders. In the early 1880’s he established a workshop with lathe, forge. etc. in Fairfield Road, Kingston-on Thames.
All his machinery was steam-driven and, until he added zither-banjos to his output at the turn of the 20th century, every part of his banjo, (made in two models: 11 in. and 12 in. hoops) was made by his own hands.
The necks of his instruments were laminated both vertically and horizontally and pearl dots were placed at the side to correspond with each fret. Parslow was a lover of decoration and he collected odd pieces of mother of-pearl from which he would fashion stars,crescents, triangles and dots for insertion in the fingerboards of the banjos he made.
No two Parslow banjos would be identical in this respect. He devised and patented his own non-slip pegs and used an all-metal adjustable perch-pole in his banjos which could be tightened at both ends by scew-nuts to make the hoop rigid. He also devised a special tailpiece; the lugs for the strings being hinged to make the fixing of the (gut) string easier.
He often used the "split" second fret on his zither-banjos.
In addtition to his instrument- making he maintained a teaching studio and ran a successful banjo quartet (with outstanding pupils) which appeared at local concerts and help to advertise the Parslow instruments.
Pictures courtesy of Steve Harrison