... was a banjo manufacturer in Cleveland, Ohio, active from about 1873 to about 1900. No two instruments are alike, and it is probable that they were built-to-order.
All have spun-over rims, necks of Walnut, and metal hardware made in-house. Earlier instruments have metal inlays, square tension and shoe nuts, and a unique bulge at the 5th peg which encloses the peg. Many of the earlier instruments are fretless.
Later instruments eliminated the neck bulge, used mostly shell inlay, and had fancier tension and shoe hardware. Two instruments have appeared with a cast metal neck adjusting apparatus, similar in function to that used on The Cole "Eclipse" banjos, but unique to French. Some instruments carry engraved metal presentation or owner's name/initial plates
Bio and pictures courtesy of Andy Fitzgibbon
J. Lafayette French 1843 to 1918