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

Alfred Cammeyer Ukulele Banjo Banjolele
Alfred Cammeyer Banjo Ukulele
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

Alfred D. Cammeyer

He was officially one of the men cited as inventing the Zither Banjo and was for a while in partnership with Clifford Essex. After the partnership dissolved in 1900 he kept the workshop at 13 Greek Street, Soho, London for the manufacture of instruments under his name. The man in charge of the workshops was Sidney W. Young and he was responsible for most if not all of the later banjo developments from this workshop. When Cammeyer retired from business due to illness 1939, Young took over the workshop and continued to make instruments but under his own name and I don't know if Banjoleles were still being made at this point?

Dick Barrie Band

All the Dick Barrie Band branded Banjoleles I have seen have all been made post WWII and look to have been made by GH&S. I don't know if this was an endorsement, (like George Formby)or if Dick branded his own range, (like Alvin Keech)? To be honest I'm not even sure who Dick Barrie is, the only one I can find fitting the bill at all was a, (now largely forgotten), American Trumpet player who started his own Swing/Dance band in 1936. I know this Dick Barrie was still a working musician in 1943 but I lose him after that. I don't know if this is the right Dick Barrie and if it is I have no idea why a US trumpet player should release a range of Banjoleles in the UK in the late 40's early 50's?

Will Van Allen

Will Van Allen, (whose real name was William Dodds), was a highly successful variety artist who used the banjo in his act. It is not known when he first started to make banjos, but his first models were called Revelation. When he went into partnership with Olly Oakley in 1926 they became the New Revelation “Will Van Allen" banjos, and appear to have been products by Abbott. He dissolved his partnership with "Olly Oakley in 1929 or 1930 and very few Van Allen banjos appeared to have been sold after this date. Back to the Banjoleles and there were apparently two levels sold, the standard, and the deluxe, (with an extended resonator). A Will Van Allen deluxe was the first Banjolele George Formby was seen playing on film.

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