top of page


In 1884 the first English banjo patent GB9439 was granted to S. W. Kemp for his “Gong Banjo" which was described a having "a metal rim with bell projecting backwards and opening with a trumpet mouthpiece."


It was exhibited (probably with other banjos by the same maker) at the Invention Exhibition, Kensington, in 1885 and thereafter is said too have enjoyed considerable sales.


The patent on this banjo seems to have been granted because of the resonator" "fitted inside the hoop this being a metal interior, shaped like an inverted soup plate with an open centre aperture, about three inches across and with rolled over edge like the lip of a bell.


This device was fitted to the top of the hoop, under the vellum, with the banjo perch-pole passing through the two walls of the orifice of the "resonator".


The hoop of the "Kemp Patent Gong Banjo" was made entirely of metal barely 0.7 in. thick and had a rolled-over edge at the base.   On some models the hoop and the internal metal resonator were elaborately engraved with floral designs, cherubs, etc.


It is not known when S. W. Kemp ceased making banjos although his activities extended from the seven string banjo era into the time when five-string banjos were more generally used.


There is only one entry for a SW Kemp in the UK census lists. Samuel W Kemp born in 1831 is recorded in 1861 as  a shopman in a Piano warehouse ..

Kemp pot

Samuel William Kemp

union jack
bottom of page