Following a tour of Englad with his brother George (b 1857) the African-American James Bohee established a teaching studio in Coventry Street, London, in 1882.
He first sold S. S. Stewart banjos at exorbitant prices to his pupils but before long he decided it was more profitable to sell his "own" banjos. These had a 12 inch hoop, plain nickel-silver, fingerboard without any fret markings, and push-in ivory pegs.
When the Prince of Wales, who was soon to become King Edward VII, took lessons from him, the banjo craze hit British High Society.
It is said he was a shrewd business man and asked as much as £50 for one of his banjos, a truly great price when one realises the highest-priced instruments at that time were 9 or 10 guineas. Bohee banjos were branded "Champion" and Alfred Weaver made the majority of them, although some were said to have been made by Arthur Tilley of Surbiton.
Bohee died in 1897 but his brother liver on to 1930.
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