W.E. Boucher, Jr. fretless 5-string banjo, Circa 1848

William Esperance Boucher, Jr. of Baltimore is regarded as one of the first significant banjo makers in the U.S.  Prior to Boucher, most banjos that have been found were probably one-off pieces made by or for a particular player.  Boucher, in contrast, made banjos for a living, and about 20 of his banjos have come to light.  He is sometimes credited with being the first to use drum-type pull down hooks to tighten the head, though he didn't patent that idea and so we can't be sure.  This example is fairly typical of Boucher's work, with a wood rim with faux-rosewood finish, six holdown clamps, and a beautifully made neck with his characteristic "beehive" decoration on the peghead.  The numbers XXII appear twice on the banjo - perhaps a serial number.  Note the beautiful shaping of the neck above the fifth-string peg. 

Back to home page