Roger Sprung was a permanent fixture of New York's folk music revival in the 1950's and 60's and today continues to teach and perform. A member of the short lived Shanty Boys, he along with Hal Wylie, was a founding member of the Progressive Bluegrassers. His ground breaking style, compositions and the transposing of non-traditional repertoire for the 5-string banjo would lay the foundation for the "Newgrass" movement.
In conversations with Roger Sprung he remembers owning the banjo and selling it in 1969 to a R.H. Lane of Savanna Georgia.
In recent conversations with Randy Wood, confounder of the Nashville instrument dealers and restorers GTR, Mr. Wood remembers that R.H. "Harry" Lane had used this instrument as a model for the top-tension banjos he was producing at the time. Mr. Wood recalls purchasing the banjo from Harry Lane in 1971 and after showing it to John Hartford, sold it to him that same year.
Though no documentation exists regarding its purchase by John Hartford, his son, Jamie Hartford, recalls the instrument fondly and remembers that this was one of his main stage banjos through the '70's and 80's and was always kept in standard 'G' tuning. It is believed that this banjo, along with a Doc Cullis Low Banjo, was used in the recording of his 1977 LP All In The Name Of Love.
By the mid 1980's Hartford had shifted his focus to the wood rim banjos, first made for him by Geoff Stelling. With the recording of Gum Tree Canoe released in 1984 and Hartford's desire for a more traditional string-band sound the RB-18 saw less use. The banjo was sold by Hartford through the Nashville shop of George Gruhn. It has been in the present owner's possession since 1984.