Smithsonian Institution Collections
Stewart Five-String Banjo
- Smithsonian Museum
- National Museum of American History
- This banjo was made by the Samuel Swain Stewart Company of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania around 1889-1899. Samuel Swain Stewart was a noted banjoist and one of the most prolific banjo makers during the late 19th century. He advocated the "finger-style" (today's classic) technique, as opposed to the traditional "stroke style" (today's clawhammer or frailing) through his pamphlet “The Banjo Philosophically: its Construction, its Capabilities, its place as a Musical Instrument, its possibilities, and its Future: a Lecture.” Stewart pursued a determined campaign to "elevate" the image of the banjo by disparaging and even denying its African American and minstrel show origins. He produced banjos in a wide range of styles and costs and was influential in creating the popular enthusiasm for fretted instrument clubs and orchestras that persisted into the 1930's.
- Currently not on view
- Samuel Swain Stewart Co.
- Date Made
- Credit Line
- Gift of Mrs. Richard S. Tilton
- overall: 36 in x 11 3/4 in x 2 1/4 in; 91.44 cm x 29.845 cm x 5.715 cm
- Object Type