Descendent of a West African gourd, formalised by drum makers in the American Civil War era. A drum with strings.
There exists different forms:
The Golden era of Banjo manufacture was probably 1900 to 1940, in particular the 1920s. There were hundreds of banjo makers, many of which are still known today even if the company no longer exists. Vintage banjos of the golden era are much sought after for their particular qualities. The majority of makers were American or English although a few were made elsewhere.