The Twelfth Fret ~ Since 1977 ~

❌SOLD❌Lyon & Healy 5 String Banjo, c. 1895


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Here is a lovely example of a turn of the century Lyon & Healy 5 String banjo, built  circa 1895.  Though there is no stamping on the dowel stick or label, it has the signature L&H shaped peghead and the lovely L&H Patent tailpiece which confirms the origin.   

The Lyon & Healy firm grew out of an effort by Oliver Ditson – beginning in 1864 – to expand his wholesale musical instrument business into the US Midwest, with a facility in Chicago run by George Washburn Lyon and Patrick J. Healy.

However, by 1880, Lyon and Healy broke away from Ditson; there weren’t enough instruments available from the East (including from C F Martin) and so they set up manufacturing on their own. Lyon and Healy also launched the Washburn brand, using George Lyon’s middle name. Manufacturing ceased during the Depression.

Back in the day when banjo makers boasted that they had more tension hooks than the competition,  this Buckbee style rim was fitted with 38 hooks and frankly, it is hard to imagine how they could have fitted even one more !  Later in the 1920s the banjo industry more or less agreed that 24 tension-hooks or bracket-hooks was a sufficient number for the job.

The spun-over rim on this Lyon & Healy 5 String Banjo is original and fitted with a very clean calfskin head. The Mahogany neck  with Ebony fingerboard appears original but has been stripped of the original finish and been resprayed in tinted lacquer by a skilled luthier.   Originally strung with gut strings, it is currently strung with nylon classical guitar strings.  

Strung as it was meant to be with gut strings, this Lyon & Healy 5 String Banjo has a warm and charming sound.  I fully expect it to be making lovely music for another century or two.  

We previously posted this Lyon & Healy 5 String Banjo as a Fairbanks or Stewart model here, but since then further research has updated its origin.    Since that posting, it’s received a calfskin head and the four position marker dots were stained black to match the ebony fingerboard. 

This fine vintage  is sold without case,   but we have gig bags  and other cases on hand that would fit it if needed.


Price: $549.00 CAD
  • Model: 5 String Banjo
  • Year: 1895 | Approximate year
  • Finish Natural
  • Class: Vintage
  • Serial Number: N/A, built around 1985 in Chicago, Illinois
  • Country of Origin: USA
  • Condition: Good
  • Date Posted: 22/02/2021

  • This instrument has been sold
  • Not Consignment

  • Instrument Weight: 2.684lbs 1.22kg
  • Scale Length: 24.724in 31.88mm
  • Nut Width: 1.255in 31.88mm
Lyon and Healy Website

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