British Makers and Distributors of the 20th c. click for more

james wallis banjo ukulele
Wallis
In the 1930's the major British Banjo makers produced a lot of instruments for others, like small distributors, big shops and minor celebrities to re-brand and distribute. Some like Alvin Keech or JeTeL are fairly easy to find information on, but a lot of them I can find very little about beyond the fact that they branded Banjoleles, very often made by GH&S and including the Lion stamp, (it may be the case that some of them were House brands for GH&S?). There were also a number of small British Banjo makers/luthiers at the beginning of the 20th century for whom it is also difficult to find much information on I am including here
One final note and its a General one - If you see a small British made banjo instrument with 8 strings it is a Banjo Mandolin not a Banjolele
ALWAYS

J.& A. Margolin Ltd.

The range of Banjoleles and Banjos sold as Broadcaster were marked: "Made by J. & A. M. of London." In actual fact they were made by the furniture, radio and gramophone company J.& A. Margolin Ltd. Despite the looks they were not great instruments, everything being covered with nacrolaque, and the metal work being very thin lacquered brass. In later models they toned down the use of nacrolaque.
Gretsch also made a range of Banjos they called Broadkaster - spealt with a K and these were 5 string only

Mamelok Bros.

This was a big music shop in Manchester founded in the early 20th c. and shut down in 1993. As well as being a local reseller they imported Banjoleles from Germany and branded them Perfect Mamelok Tone

Wallis (of London)

James Wallis of Euston Road ,London, was a maker of Banjos who used a lot of plastic on his instruments. In 1889 he was granted a patent for covering the banjo hoop with celluloid. He was only ever a small maker and when the firm ceased trading I don't know, however to be making Banjoleles in the 1920's he would have had a long career? I have seen it suggested that the Banjolele I have pictured, (and it is the only one I have seen), was actually branded by a later music shop and it does look fairly generic like a low end Dallas, but I have found no information on a London music shop called Wallis?

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