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Banjo | Beatles memorabilia

Updated: Feb 19, 2023

Beatles-themed musical instruments became hot ticket items to manufacture in the mid-1960s. One piece that went into production was the banjo. It seemed to be a stretch in keeping with the theme since the band did not feature that musical instrument. However, it did have a legendary connection to John Lennon, as his mother, Julia, taught him to play Buddy Holly's classic, That'll Be The Day, on her banjo. This appreciation of a stringed instrument carried his fascination over to the next instrument...the guitar.

Mastro Musical Instruments in New York manufactured the 22" long (56cm) piece. The instrument had four strings, accompanied by an instruction booklet (labeled as a "self-teaching method"). The creation was gold and cream with four headpins and a bridge. Along with facsimile signatures, the banjo's white head exhibited headshots of each member of the group in either red or blue ink. The description on the skin read "The Beatles Banjo" with "Mastro Industries...The Beatles...Made in the U.S.A. under license." The gold headstock displayed the words "Mastro Banjo" in red and blue ink.

The plastic banjo arrived either in a cardboard box or attached to a colorful sealed card. The creamy cardboard Mastro Banjo box measured 23½" x9½" x3¾" (59.5cm x 24cm x 9.5cm) and displayed a red and black print. Licensed by NEMS, the banjo initially sold for around $12. Additionally, Mastro included an official leaflet from Mastro, and it advertised various instrumental Beatles items for sale, including the Banjo, Bongos, and a Drum.

Mastro Industries Incorporated was located at 3040 Webster Avenue, New York 67, New York 10467. Their telephone number in the Sixties was 212-KI-7-5600.

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