December 31, 2012--This has been a year of wonderful banjo discoveries and I'm looking forward to what 2013 will bring. Here's one last addition for 2012: TB-3 #8041-35, the "Tilghman D. Frank/Paul B. Peters", saw many years of service in Pennslvania's Lehigh Valley. . . and the rhinestones add just the festive touch needed for New Year's Eve.
December 29, 2012--#DA-5091 is a beautiful example of a TB-1 dating from 1938, a period in which Gibson banjos had true serial numbers stamped on the back of the peghead rather than factory order numbers. Here's the original shipping ledger entry showing that this banjo was sent to the McNeil School of Music on February 1, 1939.
December 27, 2012--Check out TB-3 #9903-41 with its neat factory original head guard and most unusual rim binding.
December 22, 2012--Got a few more photos of TB-3 #158-20, the "Billy Pilgrim", including a nice shot showing the lot number written on the end of the neck heel.
December 21, 2012--Here's a rare one: a newly discovered one-piece-flange TB-3 with full flying eagle inlays.
December 17, 2012--If it ever stops raining here in Atlanta, I have a couple of new (old) banjos to take out in the yard and photograph. For now I thought I would post a pretty significant entry from Gibson's shipping ledgers: The first banjo to be recorded in the ledgers as a style 75 was TB-75 #934-4 which was sent to the Grossman Music Co. of Cleveland Ohio on August 10, 1937.
December 10, 2012--For some strange reason, it seems that old Gibson banjos tend to surface in twos. No sooner had I posted photos of MB-00 #E3004-4, shipped to South Africa in 1941, than I got an e-mail about MB-00 #EG-6334, shipped to Australia two years earlier. I wrote back to the owner of #EG-6334 with the information my research had turned up and he replied, "I mean this in the kindest possible way. . . you are a freak!" Guilty as charged.
December 8, 2012--H. Polliack and Co., Ltd., Gibson's leading dealer in South Africa, was sent six MB-00s on May 16, 1941. Here's one of them.
December 7, 2012--Here's one of the nicest (and most unusual) TB-75s I've ever seen.
November 29, 2012--I have a particular fondness for the "floor-sweep" banjos produced by Gibson during World War II, when employees were scraping the bottom of the parts bin and bolting together any combination of parts that would make a banjo, whether or not the result bore any resemblance to anything ever pictured in a Gibson catalog. Here's a great example: #E3347-4 was shipped on January 22, 1942 as a TB-Florentine, but it actually included components of at least five different Gibson banjo models.
November 24, 2012--Here's a UB-2 with a nifty vintage illustration done on the calfskin head by longtime owner Gladys Guerin of Kokomo, Indiana.
November 22, 2012--Happy Thanksgiving! I'm excited to be able to feature this wonderful TB-Florentine originally owned by vaudeville performer and magician A.L. Caroselli.
November 19, 2012--I couldn't figure out why this 1928 TB-1, formerly belonging to Columbus, Indiana resident Dwight Haislup, had a logo like a 1930s style 00--but then it made since when I discovered it was sent back to the factory for repair in 1936.
November 17, 2012--Today we have another great banjo from the collection of William B. Anderson and formerly owned by the late Snuffy Smith, this one a composite TB-Granada/TB-5.
November 6, 2012--Here's a beautiful late tube-and-plate TB-4 formerly owned by Frank Mundy (1915-1995) of Toronto, Ontario.
November 3, 2012--Gibson went through a flurry of designs in their first years of banjo production; here's a top-of-the-line TB-5 with the rarely-seen concave Pyralin resonator. And thanks to Joe Spann for pointing out that I had completely cobbled up the complex, compelling Kel Kroydon chronology. . . it was instruments first, then toys. I have now corrected the write-ups on the pages for Kel Kroydon KK-11 tenor #9797-34, the "Vineta Hemman" and Kel Kroydon KK-10 tenor #9851.
November 1, 2012--Here's a nice Kel Kroydon KK-11 tenor owned originally by Vineta Hemman of Painesville, Ohio. Fortunately for us, she wrote the date on the banjo's calfskin head, giving us another data point to confirm Joe Spann's revised chronology for prewar Gibson banjos.
October 31, 2012--I'm happy to be able to add biographical information and a photograph of Robert Moses Cruz, original owner of PB-Florentine #9227-1.
October 30, 2012--Thanks to William B. Anderson for sending in photos of TB-Granada #9556-32 (now converted to five-string with an original prewar flathead tone ring) from the collection of the late Snuffy Smith.
October 24, 2012--Today we have new photos of RB-1 #919-5 along with the ledger entry showing that it and RB-2 #1112-1 were shipped to South African dealer H. Polliack and Co., Ltd. on December 17, 1936.
October 17, 2012--Style
1 guitar-banjos from the 1930s are rare birds indeed. . .
here's one that's in beautiful
original condition including the
purple-lined #521 Geib and Schaefer case in which it was
shipped to the Grossman Music Company in
Cleveland, Ohio on
October 21, 1937.
October 14, 2012--Here's another original five-string prewar Gibson banjo in completely unmolested condition. . . RB-1 #9775-1.
October 13, 2012--If this website were a print thingy instead of digital, I would be yelling "stop the presses!" right now. Yesterday I added a scan of the shipping ledger for RB-75 #518-3 along with a postcard of the store where it was sold, W.F. Chears Jewelry in Sanford, North Carolina. Today we have a photograph of original owner Elbert Collins with the banjo in 1960 and a sound file courtesy of owner Joe Deetz.
October 12, 2012--I was privileged several years back to be in on the discovery of the previously undocumented RB-75 #518-3. Here's the original ledger showing the shipping of the banjo to W.F. Chears Jewelry in Sanford, North Carolina on December 16, 1937. Take a look inside Mr. Chears' store while you're here!
October 8, 2012--Lots
of folks have wondered exactly when Gibson returned the reworked
to Earl Scruggs.
Now we know.
October 6, 2012--Today we have a scan of the August 31, 1936 shipping ledger entry for TB-1 #749-7.
October 5, 2012--While the tenor banjo was an American invention of the early twentieth century, it has also found a home in the traditional music of Ireland, tuned to the standard mandolin tuning of GDAE. Here's a 1926 TB-2 belonging to Irish musician Tash Ó Treasaigh.
September 29, 2012--Lot #9227 was a most interesting group of Florentines, and I'm happy to now be able to feature PB-Florentine Mastertone #9227-2, the "Howard Christensen" along with PB-Florentine Mastertone #9227-1, the "Robert Cruz" and PB-Florentine Mastertone #9227-3, the "Charlie Macrow".
September 23, 2012--Thanks to the family of original owner Gus Tingen for supplying photos of RB-1 #EA-5078, shipped on August 4, 1939 to the C.B. Ellis Music Company in Burlington, North Carolina.
September 22, 2012--It appears to be an RB-00 with a Kalamazoo neck but no logo on the peghead; what it actually is is a Montgomery Ward #955 five-string banjo that was shipped on February 5, 1940.
September 15, 2012--I was very excited to locate PB-Florentine #9227-1. . . not only is it a beautiful example of a plectrum Florentine, but it's especially desirable because it came from the factory with a high-profile, three-pound, twenty-hole flathead Granada tone ring. In the near future I hope to be able to provide some information on its original owner, Robert Cruz of San Francisco.
September 8, 2012--Today we have a no-hole, raised-head 1927 TB-3 Mastertone that has been owned by three members of the same Michigan-based banjo band.
September 3, 2012--Ola Belle Reed was usually seen in public playing an RB-100, but her "good banjo" was RB-3 #9528-7. Joe Deetz, caretaker of that instrument for nearly thirty years now, has located a rare photograph of Ola Belle Reed playing it!
August 28, 2012--Here's a really nice little MB-1 that left the factory on January 20, 1936. It's "all there", including its original plush-lined Geib and Schaefer case.
August 24, 2012--Today we have shipping information for TB-3 #1012-8.
August 23, 2012--Thanks to website visitor Steve Wyse for filling in a gap in my coverage of Gibson's budget-brand banjos. . . before there was a Kel Kroydon, a Recording King, a Studio King, a Kalamazoo, or a Truett, there was the Oriole.
August 19, 2012--Late 1920s TB-2s with diamond flanges and Nick Lucas inlays are pretty common. . . but this is the first one I've seen that's been converted into a guitar-banjo by adding two extra tuners to the tenor peghead.
August 17, 2012--From England (where it was shipped when new) comes a nice no-hole, raised-head TB-3 Mastertone with an unusual peghead logo.
August 14, 2012--PB-4 #9639-5, originally owned by Ralph Marquardt of Madison, Wisconsin, already had some very nice documentation in the form of its original price tag. Now we also have its shipping ledger entry from April 10, 1935.
August 12, 2012--I do love finding vintage Gibson banjos that are still in the family of the original owner, like this 1926 TB-3 formerly owned by Dr. Thomas Tuomey of Chicago. It's for sale, too!
August 9, 2012--I'm very happy to be able to add a scan of the June 28, 1935 shipping ledger entry for RB-Granada #9530-4!
August 2, 2012--It's been a while since we've added a South African Gibson banjo. . . check out this neat little UB-4, originally shipped to H. Polliack and Co., Ltd. on June 11, 1940.
July 28 2012--Here's a rare original "hex-flange" RB-1!
July 17 2012--Today we have some additions to the page for TB-75 #F943-4. . .new photos and, thanks to website visitor Randy Barrett, a likely identification of the original owner.
July 10 2012--I guess it's time for another flathead Granada.
July 7, 2012--After all these beautiful style 4 Mastertones we've been looking at lately, let's take one step down in the line and admire this very nice TB-3 Mastertone dating to 1932, originally exported to Canada.
July 3, 2012--It seems that style 4 Mastertones have been coming out of the woodwork lately. In the case of TB-4 #9553-34, that would be burl walnut woodwork.
June 30, 2012--We are unlikely to see a more perfectly-preserved example of a "diamond-flange" TB-2 than #8439-41. . . and check out the 1940s lesson card belonging to former owner William Milne of Ontario, Canada.
June 29, 2012--Here's a beautiful 1929 tube-and-plate PB-4 that got the chrome plating (and Grover "two-bands") we more typically see on one-piece-flange examples.
June 28, 2012--Provenance doesn't get much better than an original bill of sale identifying the banjo by both model and serial number, and that's exactly what the owner of RB-75 #EG-4121, the "William R. Perry", has provided us with.
June 23, 2012--Here's a 1927 TB-1 with a nifty aftermarket (but period) pickguard.
June 21, 2012--Happy summer! Have you ever heard of "zinc pest"? Here's an otherwise-very-nice 1929 TB-1 that has a pretty bad case of it.
June 8, 2012--To join its littermate RB-1 #87-3, the "Grace Attfield", here is RB-1 #87-5!
June 7, 2012--Gibson made its entry into the "fancy banjo arms race" in 1927 with the Bella Voce and Florentine models. These two top-of-the-line banjos were first produced in mixed lot #8552. . . here's one of them.
June 1, 2012--It has a maple neck and resonator, mult-ply resonator binding, style 11 silkscreen designs done all in black, and no logo. . . so what is it? Answer: A Montgomery Ward #701 tenor banjo.
May 31, 2012--Gibson never produced great numbers of plectrum banjos, particularly plectrum Mastertones, so it's really nice to see a beautiful original example like this PB-3 from 1926.
May 30, 2012--Nobody wanted this sort-of All American tenor back in 1940, but lots of folks would jump at the chance to own it now.
May 27, 2012--Prewar Gibson scholar Frank Schoepf has graciously provided today's update. . . the Kel Kroydon truss rod expose'!
May 26, 2012--Many thanks to Bill Kemp for sending some wonderful detailed photos of TB-7 #390-13, including its extremely rare wrist-action mute.
May 25, 2012--I'm back from vacation and I sure heard from folks about some great banjos while I was gone. We'll start off with this 1932 TB-3 from the family of the original owner in the extremely banjoful state of Pennsylvania.
April 28, 2012--According to prewar Gibson literature, the mandolin-banjo provided "an entirely new lustre" and a "golden soprano" voice to the banjo family. Here's a very nice example of an MB-3 from 1924.
April 17, 2012--Thanks to prewar Gibson banjo scholar Ken Landreth for pointing out that I had incorrect shipping information for his banjo (RB-75 #F5883-1), and some of the other banjos from lot #F5883. Everything should be fixed now.
April 13, 2012--Over the years, I have located more old Gibson banjos in Pennsylvania than in any other state. Here's the latest--a very nice 1935 TB-1 now converted to five-string flathead.
April 6, 2012--I love
banjos which reflect the personality of their former owners; this is definitely
the case with today's addition, a
TB-00 from the family of lifelong Pennsylvania resident Francis "Hecky" Heckman.
March 29, 2012--This site would not exist if not for the life and music of Earl Scruggs. We lost Mr. Scruggs yesterday at the age of eighty-eight; I'll be adding more about him to the site in the near future, but for now let's just take another look at the RB-Granada which he acquired in 1949 and proceeded to make the most famous banjo in the world.
March 25, 2012--Today we have an absolutely beautiful TB-Granada dating to 1930. I've also fixed a few outdated links.
March 16, 2012--On the heels of RB-4 #8914-4 comes another original five-string tube-and-plate RB-4!
March 6, 2012--Bluegrass banjo great Ron Stewart has graciously provided a sound file of him giving PB-Granada #558-3 a workout!
February 26, 2012--Today's addition is a beautiful example of a fully original TB-6 dating to 1929.
February 24, 2012--Here's a wonderfully odd flathead TB-75 dating to 1940. I've also fixed the link to the late 1930s Gibson String Cabinet. I try to stay on top of these things. . . please send me a note if you find something that doesn't work!
February 20, 2012--I have added sound files for TB-7 #390-1, a.k.a. the "Hawaii" top-tension.
February 19, 2012--I have added sound files for RB-3 #9602-6 and have updated the ownership information for TB-Granada #9556-26, the "Martin Balada".
February 18, 2012--I have updated the page for RB-4 #8914-4 to include a few photos of the banjo disassembled which show evidence of its reworking at the Gibson factory prior to assembly in 1928. I have also added a few sound files.
February 15, 2012--From the original owner's family in New England comes this impossibly rare, impeccably preserved original five-string 1928 RB-4!
February 14, 2012--I have added shipping information for TB-11 #FG817-1.
February 13, 2012--Here's a TB-1 from the first lot made in the new one-piece-flange design of 1929.
February 6, 2012--Behold. . . probably the nicest example of a TB-11 in existence!
February 5, 2012--New today, shipping information for a pair of TB-00s: #F560-7 and #EG-5712, which was the first Gibson banjo shipped in 1940.
February 4, 2012--Tennessee banjo great Jim Millsapps has provided us with photos and sound files of his wonderful 1939 RB-75!
January 29, 2012--I
have added shipping information for
and RB-75 #F906-3.
January 27, 2012--Today we have a beautiful 1928 TB-Florentine with a no-hole flathead tone ring!
January 22, 2012--Here's another great find from the family of the longtime, if not original, owner; this time it's a 1930 TB-2. No doubt about that date, either, as the folks at Gibson were nice enough to write "9/23/30" inside the resonator. . . a wonderful piece of evidence for the revised chronology as established by Joe Spann in Spann's Guide to Gibson 1902-1941. To quote early Gibson advertising genius L.A. Williams, "live not longer in a light that is past!"
January 8, 2012--The provenance of finding an old Gibson banjo still in the original owner's family is unbeatable, especially when it includes period photos of the owner with the banjo as is the case with this nice TB-3 from 1927!
January 3, 2012--I
am excited to start off the new year by having the opportunity to offer
for sale one of the "Wonders of the Banjo World",
an original flathead five-string RB-7 dating to 1940.
What's New 2011
What's New 2010
What's New 2009
What's New 2008
What's New 2007
What's New 2006