banjo ukulele by dennis taylor
The Abbott Monarch Banjo Ukulele
The Abbott ‘Monarch’ Banjo Ukulele was designed and manufactured by John G. Abbott Sr. in the 1930’s. He made an almost identical instrument as this one for George Formby which he can be seen playing in several of his films, as previously described. Jack, as he was known, was a maker of Banjos and Guitars from about 1890, selling instruments under his own name. In 1901 he joined Barnes and Mullins in Harrow. In 1905, he left B&M to form his own company with the title of JG Abbott and Co. in a factory at 97/99, Hampstead Road, London. In 1928 the workshop transferred to 44, Chalton Street, Euston Road and four years later his works were transferred to Bessons Co. of which he owned part, at Stanhope Place, Marble Arch, London, mainly producing ‘Aristone’ guitars generally for professional musicians. In 1936, he suffered from serious internal problems, from which he never recovered and died on 11th February l938. However, he left a wonderful legacy in the Abbott ‘Monarch’ Banjo Ukulele. Almost all of the instrument makers since, have attempted to copy in some form that wonderful prototype instrument, including his own son, Jack Abbott Jr. This instrument is very plain, with very little decoration but is a lightweight powerful instrument. Current Value ? EXPENSIVE !!
JACK JONES’S ABBOTT MONARCH This instrument, a ‘Monarch’, was made by Jack Abbott Sr. in 1929. Once again, a very plain instrument but very lightweight with a lovely tone. This has crown cutouts instead of just plain slots. It was owned for many years by Robbie Vincent (Enoch) and then Harry Korris. This particular instrument can be seen being played by Frank Randle in one of his wartime films. When Harry Korris was dying, he was visited by one of his friends, Harold Fallows, who was asked by Korris if he would like to purchase it. He did buy it, but he didn’t want it for himself. Instead, he offered it to Jack Jones (Honorary Member of the GFS) because he wanted it to go to someone who would look after it. He paid around £180 for it. Many years later, Jack’s house was burgled and this Banjo Ukulele was stolen. Several months later, it turned up at one of the Blackpool meetings. It had been purchased in a second hand shop by one of our members, Joe Tafe, who obviously thought that he had bought an absolute bargain. However, Jack recognised it straight away as his property and was even able to quote the number stamped on it. Joe insisted that Jack take it back, but that left him Ł300 out of pocket. So Jack gave him Ł100 and the other Ł200 was collected from the members, who all contributed a few pounds each to make up the difference. Turned out nice again, didn’t it. Don’t ask the price, he’ll not sell it !!