This definitively Civil War period banjo was apparently an early Bull Run battlefield pickup, as it is ink-labeled, on the front side of the banjo head – “Drum Used in Battle of Bull Run Civil War 1861”, as well as exhibiting a penciled inscription, on the interior of the head – “Civil War 1861”. We have had several 19th century banjoes, although almost all were post-Civil War (which is what is often encountered and mislabeled as Civil War period), as evidenced by the rather thin depth of the banjo body and the many tension retainers. This banjo, erroneously labeled, apparently during the period just after first Bull Run, as a drum, has only eight tension retainers (one is missing), as well as having a brass shell over the circular wooden head; the original, labeled skin head is held in place by an iron rim, affixed to the wood of the head by two hand forged nails. When we obtained the banjo head, it no longer had its original neck; fortuitously, on a search through the contents of a rural, Amelia County, Virginia barn, we happened upon a Civil War period, hand-carved, yellow pine, five-string, fret-less banjo neck; we had one of our conservators affix this neck to the banjo head. This is a fine example of a real Civil War period banjo, with a great, early battlefield pickup ID. The banjo is in excellent condition.
Inventory Number: MUS 116