... a teacher, player and composer for fretted instruments, established a workshop and studio at 84 High Street, Clapham, London, in 1880.
His extremely well-made banjos and (after 1888 - Ed.) zither-banjos soon gained a name with professionals and amateurs alike in and around London. He employed a number of workmen and made a great number of instruments each week for a number of years. As a professional player of the banjo he used the nom de plume of Dick Spence.
By 1883 he was making banjos with an insert strip of ebony through the centre of the two-piece neck .and in 1897 he was advertising the "Spencer. & Watkins' Patent Banjo," although no details of Watkins or the features of the "patent" banjo have been discovered.
In addition to his prolific output of instruments bearing his own name, Spencer also made-banjos and zither banjos for others which were branded with the seller's name. He made extensively for Essex & Cammeyer in the early days of their partnership and for Clifford Essex for a number of years.
When Richard Spencer died on April 2nd, 1915, Clifford Essex bought his plant and stocks of material from his son who had no interest in banjo making.
It is interesting to note that Alfred Dare (who had started work in the Spencer workshops at the age of 14 took charge of the Clifford Essex workshops on the death of Spencer. Will Mitchell (who succeeded Dare as foreman of the Clifford Essex workshops) was also employed by Spencer for some years.
In 1910 Spencer moved from Clapham High Street to 364 Clapham Road.
Images courtesy of Skip Sail.
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