Published: August 3, 2021
REHOBOTH, MASS. – A finely inlaid minstrel banjo attributed to Baltimore maker Levi Brown sold for $19,200 at Americana Auctions on August 1.
Brown was an all-around musician with little surviving work. Period advertisements can be found where he lists himself as a “maker,” while others advertise him selling sheet music, playing with minstrel groups and teaching.
A contemporary of the more prolific maker William Boucher Jr, Brown focused his creativity on delicate inlay. His wooden rim banjos are made of a single ply steam bent construction. The neck featured a fine floral inlay all the way up with mother-of-pearl stars at the top and bottom. The rim featured repeating floral medallions and stars.
The banjo was unsigned and came from an estate in New Hampshire. It came with two photos on cardstock featuring the same blackface minstrel with a different banjo. The back of one card featured a graphite inscription identifying a William Bridgham in the photograph, an inscription on the front of the card beneath the photo read “Amateur King of the Banjo.”
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