Frank C Wilkes 1868 to 1929
... was born in Salford, Manchester and in 1891 he was registered as a "banjo maker and music seller".
In 1894, Frank Cecil Wilkes, of 19 Mount Street, Manchester, took out a patent involving a banjo with a "hole in the vellum" and started manufacture both banjos and zither banjos incorparating this feature. He applied in England (#1925) and the USA (#554967) when he was residing in Tib(b) Street, Manchester. The patent which was granted in 1896 in the USA.
The aperture was surrounded by an elaboratedly-decorated celluliod ring to reinforce the skin. His banjos were made with hoops of 9" or 10" diameter with the back of the hoop enclosed by a rosewood soundboard. His early instruments had a groove on the outside of the neck (with an elaborate arrangement of slotted screw-nuts) to take the octave string from the side "pip" up to the peghead.
Later he used the normal tunnel under the fingerboard (see images) producing traditional 5 string banjos with zither type slotted machine heads and closed backs! His business appears to have flourished as the name of the firm changed to F.C Wilkes & Co., with premises in 1911 at 6 Oxford Road, Station Approach, Manchester.
At the turn of the century we was resident in Moss Side Manchester working on his own as a Banjo Maker & Music Seller and by 1911 had moved to Levenshume but appears to have gone out of business during the 1st WW. He died there in 1929.