A.C. Fairbanks Co.
"Electric"
s/n 14913, circa 1895

James F. Bollman Collection and Courtesy The Museum Emporium

Plates 29 & 30, "Ring the Banjar!" The Banjo in America from Folklore to Factory
Richard Lloyd Webb, M.I.T. Museum. 1984.

A custom or "presentation-grade" A.C. Fairbanks "Electric" banjo, perhaps the finest of all 19th-century factory-made banjos. Fairbanks made only a few of this extreme style; they consistently feature ivory-bound pegheads and fingerboards, elaborate pearl inlay, exquisite wood carving and engraving on hooks and other metal parts. A nearly identical instrument is shown below. This banjo has an oak neck.

34½" x 11 1/8" x 26½"
87.7 cm x 28.4 cm x 67.3 cm

Detail of the pearl inlay. The matched dolphins were seen frequently on high-grade Fairbanks banjos of the period, and appeared also in the work of other makers. The pearl selected for these inlays is spectacularly rich in green and pink illumination.


Three custom or "presentation-grade" banjos
made in Boston during the 1890s


(left) A.C. Fairbanks Co. "Electric," s/n 16153, circa 1897
[36" x 11 5/8" x 27" (91.5 cm x 29.6 cm x 68.5 cm)]

(center) John C. Haynes & Co. "Bay State" Model 363, s/n 2, circa 1896
[33 13/16" x 11 1/8" x 25 1/2" (86 cm x 28.7 cm x 65 cm)]

(right) A.C. Fairbanks Co. "Electric," (above)

James F. Bollman Collection and Courtesy The Music Emporium


photos and text adapted from
Ring the Banjar! the Banjo in America from Folklore to Factory
Robert Lloyd Webb
MIT Museum. 1984