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Smithsonian Institution Collections

Wade Ward's Gibson Five-String Banjo

  • Wade Ward's Gibson Five-String Banjo
  • Wade Ward's Gibson Five-String Banjo
  • Wade Ward's Gibson Five-String Banjo
  • Wade Ward's Gibson Five-String Banjo
Smithsonian Museum
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Description
This banjo was made by Gibson Inc. in Kalamazoo, Michigan around 1935. It has 24 brackets, pearloid inlaid on fingerboard and back of resonator, and a maple hoop. In a 1934 Gibson catalog, this "RB-11" style banjo sold for $60.00. Although it was one of the less expensive Gibson models it produced a loud and clear tone.

Benjamin Wade Ward of Independence, Virginia one of the most admired traditional banjo players of this century owned this banjo. Ward performed with the Galax, Virginia group the “Bog Trotters” often providing entertainment during auctions and other local events. The “Bog Trotters” were comprised of “Uncle” Alec Dunford, fiddle, Dr. W.P. Davis, autoharp, “Uncle” Davy Crockett Ward, second fiddle, Wade Ward, banjo, and Fields Ward, guitar. On Tuesday, January 9th, 1940, the group performed for the American School of the Air broadcast from WDBJ radio studio in Roanoke, Virginia. The CBS American School of the Air programs were written and directed by Alan Lomax.
Location
Currently not on view
Maker
Gibson Co.
Date Made
1932-1938
ca 1935
Credit Line
Gift of Estate of Wade Ward through Dorothy Heffinger
Measurements
overall: 38 1/4 in x 13 3/4 in x 3 1/2 in; 97.155 cm x 34.925 cm x 8.89 cm
Object Type
banjo