Gibson TB-Florentine #0292-93
The Florentine was introduced in 1927 and was one of the most ornate banjos ever produced by Gibson.
The standard Florentine featured a pearloid peghead overlay inlaid with rhinestones; the fingerboard was also pearloid and was decorated with hand-painted scenes not of Florence, as one would expect, but Venice. Many Florentines, however, were custom-ordered, and deviations from the standard catalog specifications are often seen. In this case, the fingerboard is ebony, and the Bella Voce inlay pattern was used on both the fingerboard and the peghead overlay. Aside from the fingerboard and inlays, this banjo conforms to the catalog description of the Florentine with elaborate carving and painting on the resonator and neck, and gold-plated and heavily engraved hardware. The flange is two-piece and the tone ring is a forty-hole archtop.
Joel Kadarauch relates the story behind this great banjo:
"In January of 1955, the lady from whom I bought the banjo became its second owner. She had answered an ad in the Anchorage Daily Times which listed a guitar for sale, with her Christmas bonus check in her pocket. Arriving at the home of an elderly Swedish couple in what is now the "Bootlegger's Cove" district of Anchorage, she found that they had already sold the guitar, but as she was putting on her parka to leave on the dark, cold evening, they pulled the Florentine out of the closet, offered it to her for what she had on her (her Christmas bonus), and the rest is history. She has owned it since then, and it has been kept mostly in storage. To my knowledge, this is the only Florentine ever "uncovered" in Alaska!"
Photos courtesy Joel Kadarauch.