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Will Van Allen

Will Van Allen Revelation Soprano Banjo Ukulele
(Hawkes made) Revelation
Van Allen Banjolele
(Abbott made) New Revelation
Van Allen Banjolele
New Revelation Deluxe
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 (another variety Banjo act, real name Joseph Sharpe), in 1926 they became the New Revelation “Will Van Allen" banjos. 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. He may also have dropped the Revelation branding at this time and just sold Banjos with Will Van Allen on the headstock.

Back to the Banjoleles and the first Revelation models were made by Hawkes & Son and it is likely he, (like Hawkes & Son), switched to J.G. Abbott & Son as the supplier after the Hawkes factory ceased production. Of the Abbots, there were apparently two levels of Banjolele sold, the standard, and the deluxe, (with an extended resonator), and it was a Will Van Allen deluxe that was the first Banjolele George Formby was seen playing on film.

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