Two companies were formed to produce the instrument. Charles B. Kendall established the New England Automatic Banjo Company located in Boston, which governed the rights to Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Massachusetts with nonexclusive rights to foreign countries. The American Automatic Banjo Company of New Jersey was established with W. Scott O'Connor, the major stockholder, as president, this company retained the rights to New York, where it was located, and the rest of the United States outside of New England. It must have been intended to be the parent company since all the patents were assigned to this company. The American Automatic Banjo Company licensed or partially owned several Encore distributors, and it was the sole producer of music rolls for the machine.
The novelty of an automatic banjo quickly wore off as automatic pianos were introduced. The nickelodeon's popularity soon made the Encore obsolete. In 1906, W. Scott O'Connor had abandoned the automatic banjo business for the much more lucrative music roll business. The Connorized Music Company became a major manufacturer /distributor of player piano rolls and moved to a larger factory. James O'Connor didn't give up entirely on the automatic banjo. In 1914, he introduced the Banjorchestra, an orchestrion that featured an automatic banjo identical to the Encore, along with drums, tambourine, castanets, triangle and piano. The Banjorchestra was never as successful as the Encore. But even as successful as the Encore was, by 1916, used models were sold for as little as $25.
The actual number of Encores produced is very difficult to determine since there are many conflicting statements from various sources concerning the quantity made. Richard Crandall, an Encore Banjo enthusiast, estimated the number of machines produced by relying on financial statements, production papers, and serial numbers of extant machines. He believes that there were around 2500 Encores built. Compared to other novelty instruments; the Encore was extremely successful. There are at least 20 known to be extant.
Today, the Encore Automatic Banjo is both highly desirable and very rare. It may be the elusive, never-to-be-recaptured feeling of an earlier era that make such instruments so fascinating today. The sound produced by a properly restored Encore is the exact sound that our ancestors heard and enjoyed. One can listen to an old phonograph record or view an old film but the experience is reproduced through a medium. It is not so with automatic musical instruments such as the Encore. There is no medium between today's listener and the "performer" of years ago. The performer is here today, and plays for you undiminished, with nothing lost or changed, just as in years past. The performance that delights the listener today may have delighted, in exactly the same way, Queen Victoria, Teddy Roosevelt, a New York beer hall patron, or a Paris streetwalker years ago. Through the music of such machines, the emotions of another time, another place, the entertainment of another era comes to life unaltered and undimmed today. This along with its history makes the Encore a choice instrument to be acquired by today's collectors. The demand for Encore Banjos is so high that a market has developed for newly made instruments.
The New Encore Automatic Banjo
In 1976, Dave Ramey purchased various parts of original Encores. From these original parts, copies were made, which led to the remanufacture of the Encore Automatic banjo. Dave made some engineering improvements that enable his model to out-perform its predecessor while keeping the outward appearance the same. Copies of some original music rolls were made. Art Reblitz, a noted author, restorer and music roll arranger, arranged two new five tune rolls, the first new arrangements of music for the Encore since the closing of the American Automusic Company, nearly a century before.
To date, D. C. Ramey Piano Company has built over 50 new Encores that have been sold to all parts of the world. Two unique Ramey instruments have been added to the Encore line, the Encore Double, and the Encore Duet. The Double consists of two banjos mounted side by side in a custom made "stretched-out" Encore cabinet. The Duet is similar but features a resonator guitar and a banjo. D. C. Ramey Piano Company also manufactures their version of the Banjorchestra, the Ramey Banjo-Orchestra.