a banjo maker of Troy, New York, was called by S S Stewart “an eccentric genius” who was “much liked by players of his day”. About the year 1850 he constructed a banjo which had a solid iron hoop and thirty iron brackets fitted with elaborate thumb screws for tightening the vellum. It proved too heavy for practical use apart from it being crudely made. The neck was merely bolted to the hoop and the instrument could not be relied upon to keep in tune.
About twenty years later he made a much lighter banjo which known as the “Sliver Rim” banjo and established a pattern for the majority of banjo makers. This instrument had a wooden hoop veneered with thin German silver (white brass) which was rolled over the top and bottom edges of the hoop.
Wilson became adept at the use of German silver, making ingenious articles using it, which he sold.
Although his eccentricity caused him to fashion banjos in many odd designs by way of experiment, he finally adhered to the legitimate instrument and was deemed to be the best banjo maker of his time. Many of his instruments for professionals were profusely inlaid with mother of pearl, silver and fancy woods.
His successor, William H Farnham, continued to make the Wilson banjo up until the 1890s without any appreciable modifications.
Do you have a pre 1940's banjo by this maker? can you supply us some images?
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