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Smithsonian Institution Collections

Ashborn Five-String Fretless Banjo

  • Ashborn Five-String Fretless Banjo
  • Ashborn Five-String Fretless Banjo
  • Ashborn Five-String Fretless Banjo
  • Ashborn Five-String Fretless Banjo
  • Ashborn Five-String Fretless Banjo
Smithsonian Museum
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Description
This banjo was made by James Ashborn of Wolcottville, Connecticut around 1852-1875. It has 12 brackets, stained maple neck, rosewood veneer fingerboard, and a stained maple hoop. The peghead is stamped: "J. ASHBORN PATENT 1852." which is a patent for an improved tuning peg, U.S. Patent #9,268, September 21, 1852.

James Ashborn was the first to apply mass production principles to banjo and guitar making. His efficient factory in Connecticut was the source for high quality musical instruments distributed through New York wholesalers in the rapidly expanding 19th century market, signifying the instrument’s transition from homemade artifact to a profitable commercial product.
Location
Currently not on view
Maker
Ashborn, James
Date Made
1852-1875
Measurements
overall: 39 in x 13 1/2 in x 3 in; 99.06 cm x 34.29 cm x 7.62 cm
Object Type
banjo