What's New
2015

December 28, 2015--Today we have the Gibson banjo shipping totals for November 1941; in this last full month before the entry of the United States into World War II, only twenty banjos were shipped.  In the coming months we'll be taking an in-depth look at Gibson's increasingly sporadic banjo shipping during the years from December 1941 through 1945, along with the company's contributions to the war effort.

December 27, 2015--Today's addition is TB-00 #F1159-28, shipped on January 21, 1941; it's unusual in that it has a fair amount of figure in the resonator veneer and it was shipped in a top-of-the-line #509 case by Geib.

December 23, 2015--Here are the Gibson banjo shipping totals for October 1941.  Gibson shipped twenty-four five-string banjos that month, but only three were Mastertones.

December 6, 2015--Today I'm pleased to add another original flathead five-string Mastertone to the site; #9528-8 is one of the handful of style 3 five-strings made with wreath inlays from the discontinued style 5.

November 29, 2015--Here are the Gibson banjo shipping totals for September 1941; lower-end five-strings led shipping that month, while the factory was still trying to ship out fancy Florentine tenors remaining in inventory from years before.

November 27, 2015--Today we have the Gibson banjo shipping totals for August 1941; only two out of twenty-five banjos shipped that month were Mastertones.

November 26, 2015--Happy Thanksgiving!  This has been a year of wonderful prewar Gibson banjo discoveries, and the earliest known original five-string Granada has to be near the top of the list!

November 14, 2015--TB-1 #720-6 has now been converted to five-string with a conversion neck by Ron Coleman; the pot remains unaltered with its original brass hoop.  Thanks to owner Dan Horner for the post-conversion photos!

November 4, 2015--Here are the Gibson banjo shipping totals for July 1941.  Gibson shipped fourteen five-string banjos that month as opposed to thirteen tenors, although only one of the five-strings was a Mastertone.

November 2, 2015--The repair and setup of RB-7 Mastertone #409-1, originally owned by early three-finger player Finley Duncan "Red" Belcher (1914-1952), is now complete and I'm happy to feature photos of the completed work of master luthier Mark Bramlett of Woodstock, Georgia.

October 26, 2015--Today I've added the Gibson banjo shipping totals for June 1941.

October 18, 2015--Here's another very strange two-piece-flange flathead Mastertone; #8825-1 has a factory order number dating to 1927 but all indications are that it was not assembled and shipped until the early 1940s.

October 13, 2015--Today I'm pleased to feature one of the strangest prewar Gibson banjos ever seen; plectrum Mastertone #9319-1 dates to 1929 and may have been made by a Gibson employee for his personal use.

September 24, 2015--Here are the Gibson banjo shipping totals for May 1941, which included a large shipment to H. Polliack and Co., Ltd., Gibson's leading dealer in South Africa.

September 21, 2015--The page for TB-1 #1109-18 now includes photos of this banjo in its new incarnation with a five-string neck by Ron Coleman and an HR-30 tone ring by Steve Huber.

September 13, 2015--Today we have the Gibson banjo shipping totals for April 1941; nearly half of Gibson's banjo shipping that month consisted of style 00 and Kalamazoo five-strings.  An unusually large number of Mastertones were shipped that month, primarily Florentines and style 75s, likely indicating a concerted effort by Gibson to clear out these banjos remaining in stock.

September 10, 2015--Today's addition is MB-1 #920-4, shipped on shipped on July 23, 1937 to H. Polliack and Co., Ltd., Gibson's leading dealer in South Africa.

September 9, 2015--Finley Duncan "Red" Belcher (1914-1952) was an early three-finger player whose primary banjo was RB-7 Mastertone #409-1, which has the distinction of being the very first RB-7 produced.  I am very happy to be working with master luthier Mark Bramlett to bring this banjo, which has been essentially untouched since Belcher's death, back to playing condition.  I hope you enjoy these preliminary photos; updates will be forthcoming as the project progresses.

September 2, 2015--Today we have the Gibson banjo shipping totals for March 1941.  Of the four Mastertones shipped that month, three were style 7 top-tensions (one tenor, one plectrum, and one five-string) while the fourth was a tenor Florentine, a model dicontinued four years earlier. 

September 1, 2015--Today's addition is a beautiful no-hole, raised-head TB-5 converted to five-string in the 1960s by Paul Tester and Tom Morgan.

August 19, 2015--Here are the Gibson banjo shipping totals for February 1941.  Six Mastertone banjos were shipped that month, significantly more than the average for this period.

August 17, 2015--Here's a beautiful and rare example from the last known lot of TB-4 Mastertones; #257-3 was shipped on August 17, 1937 to the Wirsing Music Studio in Flint, Michigan.

August 12, 2015--Today we have the Gibson banjo shipping totals for January 1941.  Gibson started the new year with a light shipping month, sending out only twenty-five banjos; among them was one of only three ERB-150 electric five-strings ever shipped.

August 11, 2015--Gibson's prewar line of solid-body electric banjos was a part of the company's enthusiastic push for electric instruments of every variety beginning in the mid-1930s.  It was a branch of the Gibson banjo's evolutionary tree that died out quickly, but not before the company produced some nice examples like ETB-150 #G2285-3 with its matching
EH-185 amp and snazzy case with "aeroplane cloth" covering.

August 9, 2015--Today we have the Gibson banjo shipping totals for December 1940.  This month's shipping of sixty-five banjos no doubt reflected the Christmas rush; an unusually high percentage of Mastertone banjos left the factory (three TB-7s, two TB-75s, one PB-7, one TB-18, and one TB-6).  The United States would enter World War II one year later.

August 8, 2015--In the summer of 1938, Gibson began labeling banjos with a true serial number stamped on the back of the peghead, as opposed to a factory order number stamped inside the wooden rim as had been standard practice since the early 1920s; TB-11 #DA-5070 was one of the earlier banjos to leave the factory under this new system.

July 26, 2015--Here's a rare trap door PB-1 dating to 1924, originally owned by English native Frank Gray.

July 25, 2015--Today I've added the Gibson banjo shipping totals for November 1940.  The two Mastertone banjos shipped that month were both top-tension models; the most-shipped banjo was the budget-brand Kalamazoo tenor.

July 22, 2015--Here are the Gibson banjo shipping totals for October 1940; of the three Mastertone banjos shipped that month, two were high-end models which had been in inventory for ten years or more.

July 21, 2015--Today we have a most interesting PB-1 that dates to 1930 but exhibits the "transitional" features normally seen on style 1 banjos from a year or more earlier.

July 13, 2015--Here are the Gibson banjo shipping totals for September 1940.

July 6, 2015--I'm excited to be able to add TB-1 #867-6 to the site, a most unusual example whose original owner was Charles Emmett Viar (1921-2013), a native of Lynchburg, Virginia and a World War II veteran.

July 4, 2015--Today I've added the Gibson banjo shipping totals for August 1940.

July 2, 2015--Here's an exceptionally clean Kel Kroydon tenor originally owned by Pennsylvania native Willard Goss (1895-1972).

June 24, 2015--Today we have the Gibson banjo shipping totals for July 1940.

June 21, 2015--Today we have another fully original TB-1, this one from nearly ten years after the one I added last week; #EA-5687 was shipped on January 12, 1940 to Gibson teacher-agent Betty Reichenbach of Lansdale, Pennsylvania.

June 17, 2015--Here are the Gibson banjo shipping totals for June 1940.  A large shipment to Gibson's South African dealer H. Polliack and Co., Ltd. that month consisted of forty-five banjos, including instruments in ukulele, mandolin, plectrum, tenor, and five-string neck configurations.  June 1940 also saw the delivery of an RB-1 to Grand Ole Opry star Uncle Dave Macon.

June 15, 2015--Today we have a very nice original example of a TB-1 dating to 1931.

June 11, 2015--Gibson banjo shipping did not come to a complete stop with the entry of the United States into World War II in late 1941; here's an original RB-11 that was shipped to the City Music Company (location unknown) in the summer of 1942.

June 4, 2015--Here are the Gibson banjo shipping totals for April 1940 and May 1940.

June 3, 2015--Here's a nice 1927 TB-1 that was given as a Christmas gift in 1928.

June 1, 2015--Today I've posted the Gibson banjo shipping totals for March 1940; over a third of all banjos shipped that month were Kalamazoo-brand instruments.

May 31, 2015--Many thanks to Norbert Hausmann of Austria for contributing photos of one of the rarest and most historically significant of all Gibson banjos, TB-Florentine Mastertone #9090-2.

May 26, 2015--I have now uploaded the Gibson banjo shipping totals for February 1940.  The company shipped equal numbers of tenors and five-strings that month, although only two of the five-strings were Mastertones.

May 25, 2015--Today we have a beautiful TB-5 Mastertone previously owned by former Blue Grass Boy Roger Smith.

May 24, 2015--Here are the Gibson banjo shipping totals for January 1940.  Six Mastertones were shipped that month, three of them five-strings.

May 23, 2015--Here's a nice 1925 TB-3 Mastertone which was sent back to the factory for repair in 1939.

May 17, 2015--Today I've posted the Gibson banjo shipping totals for December 1939.  That month's shipments included one "electric banjo" and one "regular banjo" to Gibson endorser Ken Harvey.

May 14, 2015--Today we have an example of the very earliest banjo model made by Gibson, dating to 1919-1920 and known simply as the "TB" for "tenor banjo".

May 11, 2015--Here are the Gibson banjo shipping totals for November 1939.  Banjo shipping was down sharply from the previous month; two-thirds of the banjos shipped were non-Mastertone, Gibson-brand instruments.

May 8, 2015--Here's an interesting 1940 TB-00 with fleur-de-lis fingerboard inlays rather than the model's typical dots; this banjo is still in the family of original owner Howard Blackburn of Pontiac, Michigan.

May 4, 2015--Today I've added the Gibson banjo shipping totals for October 1939.  Gibson's banjo shipping that month was almost double that of the previous month; the purge of style 12 Mastertones continued with four tenor-necked examples being shipped, and one each of the company's solid-body electric banjos was shipped (one tenor, one plectrum, and one five-string).

May 2, 2015--Here's a nice example of the TB-1 as it appeared in 1929, just before the model's transition to a one-piece flange, fiddle-shaped peghead, and fleur-de-lis inlays.

April 28, 2015--I have now uploaded the Gibson banjo shipping totals for September 1939.  War broke out in Europe that month, but the United States would not enter the conflict for over two more years.  One standout in the month's shipping was the number of style 12 Mastertones to leave the factory; five TB-12s and one RB-12 were shipped in September 1939, while only twelve style 12 instruments had been shipped from the model's introduction in the summer of 1937 up to that point.  It seems likely that by the fall of 1939, Gibson had begun offering dealers special incentives on the style 12 Mastertones remaining in stock.

April 27, 2015--Here's another one-piece-flange TB-3 Mastertone, this one said to have been played by its original owner at the Century of Progress International Exposition in Chicago in 1933.

April 22, 2015--Today we have a beautiful original TB-3 Mastertone dating to 1929, one of the earliest such banjos made in the one-piece-flange configuration.

April 17, 2015--Here are the Gibson banjo shipping totals for August 1939.  For the first time in prewar Gibson banjo production, the two most-shipped models that month were both five-strings--Kalamazoo "regular banjos" and Gibson-brand RB-1s.  Among the Kalamazoo five-strings was #EK-860, shipped on August 30th to the Winstead Furniture and Undertaking Company.

April 15, 2015--Finding a living original owner of a prewar Gibson banjo is rare these days; I was very excited to hear from the son of Peter P. Piccirillo, who has been the owner of TB-2 #160-3 since the late 1930s!

April 14, 2015--Thanks to Mike Scott for contributing photos of his original flathead TB-75 Mastertone #DA-5061!

April 13, 2015--Today I've added the Gibson banjo shipping totals for July 1939.  The lower-priced TB-00, #1593 Recording King tenor banjo, Kalamazoo tenor banjo, and TB-11 continued to dominate banjo shipping; only four Mastertones left the factory that month, and two of them were leftover "fancy banjos" from the 1920s.

April 11, 2015--1932 was a year of greatly reduced banjo production for Gibson, but they did turn out some beautiful instruments such as TB-4 Mastertone #276-15.  I have also added TB-2 #9878-17 to my page of Prewar Gibson Banjos for Sale.  Please contact me for more information.

April 8, 2015--Here are the Gibson banjo shipping totals for June 1939.

April 7, 2015--In the pre-World-War-II era, Gibson had dealers in such far-flung locales as the United Kingdom, India, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand; here's an MB-1 that was shipped to New Zealand Gibson dealer Arthur Eady and Company on November 20, 1936.

April 5, 2015--Today we have TB-11 #FG267-2, shipped on May 31, 1940.  It's a great example of an early 1940s style 11 with its pronounced blue coloration.

March 30, 2015--Here are the Gibson banjo shipping totals for May 1939.  An unusually large number of flathead five-string Mastertones left the factory that month--two RB-18s, two RB-75s, and one RB-7.

March 29, 2015--Today we have photographs of TB-1 #234-13 in its new incarnation as a five-string flathead.

March 28, 2015--TB-2 #9878-17 dates to 1931 and although some ill-advised work has been performed on its resonator finish, its pot-metal tension hoop and flange remain in excellent condition.

March 25, 2015--Thanks to Ned Luberecki for sending in photos of TB-7 Mastertone #1392-2, one of the very first top-tensions produced in 1937.

March 24, 2015--Here are the Gibson banjo shipping totals for April 1939; nearly half of all the banjos shipped that month were Kalamazoo or style 00, although two original five-string Mastertones did leave the factory.

March 23, 2015--Here's TB-1 #867-23, shipped on June 10, 1935.  It has now been converted to five-string with no alteration to the wooden rim.

March 22, 2015--Today's addition is TB-1 #1109-18, dating to 1937.  It made one trip as a salesman's sample and was then shipped twice, finally finding a home with Gibson teacher-agent F.K. Moyer of Lansdale, Pennsylvania.

March 18, 2015--Here are the Gibson banjo shipping totals for March 1939.  An unusually large number of Mastertones were shipped that month, including such discontinued high-end models as style 6, Florentine, and All-American.

March 17, 2015--Today's addition is a true landmark in the history of Gibson banjos--the earliest known TB-6 Mastertone.

March 15, 2015--Thanks to contributor T. Rich for sending in the photos of TB-3 Mastertone #8205-40, a fully original example from 1926.

March 11, 2015--I have now posted the Gibson banjo shipping totals for February 1939.  A surprising forty percent of Gibson's banjo shipping that month consisted of five-strings, although the majority were Kalamazoo-brand and only one was a Mastertone.

March 7, 2015--Thanks to renowned banjo player Mike Scott for providing photos of his beautiful PB-18!

March 5, 2015--I'm very pleased to be able to feature one of the true wonders of the prewar Gibson banjo world: the Scotland Granada.

February 23, 2015--Here are the Gibson banjo shipping totals for January 1939.  As was typical for the period, banjo shipping was dominated by lower-end style 00, Kalamazoo, and Recording King instruments, with only five Mastertones leaving the factory that month.

February 21, 2015--In 1929, the redesigned Granada debuted with lot #9470, a batch of fifty tenor-necked instruments.  Thanks to contributor Randy O'Dell for photographs of the number one banjo from this lot!

February 17, 2015--The Gibson banjo shipping totals for December 1938 are now available.  Only seven of the 148 banjos shipped that month were Mastertones; nearly one-third of all banjos shipped in December 1938 were non-Gibson-brand Kalamazoo and Recording King instruments.

February 15, 2015--Thanks to Dr. Jonathan Finder for contributing photos of this original five-string RB-3 dating to 1927, probably the nicest, most original example in existence.

February 8, 2015--Today we have TB-75 Mastertone #416-2, shipped to Gibson teacher-agent Austin Scrivener of Hartford, Connecticut on December 1, 1937.  It actually looks much more like a TB-4 than a TB-75, which is no accident. . . with the introduction of the top-tension Mastertones that year, Gibson kept the lower-priced style 75 in the catalog so they could use up leftover parts from their many discontinued models.

February 7, 2015--Here are the Gibson banjo shipping totals for November 1938.  The company shipped nine of its new solidbody electric banjos that month, compared to only four five-string flathead Mastertones.

February 5, 2015--Many thanks to contributor Don Bryant for photos of RB-1 #EA-5317, a beautiful 1939 example originally shipped to South Africa.

January 28, 2015--Here are the Gibson banjo shipping totals for October 1938.  That month's banjo shipments included an RB-1 Special for Uncle Dave Macon and a one-of-a-kind top-tension Mastertone patterned after Gibson's Super 400 archtop guitar.

January 25, 2015--What has a one-piece-flange style 2 pot, a forty-hole archtop tone ring, a style 1 fleur-de-lis fingerboard, and a Recording King peghead?  A Recording King #803 tenor banjo, manufactured by Gibson and offered in Montgomery Ward's mail-order catalog in 1933.

January 22, 2015--Today we have a TB-1 which was shipped on September 19, 1935 to Gibson teacher-agent Althea Halsted of Olcott, New York.

January 21, 2015--Here are the Gibson banjo shipping totals for September 1938; five TB-7 top-tension Mastertones were shipped that month, all of them from 1937 production.

January 19, 2015--This 1930 TB-3 Mastertone remained in the hands of its original owner, Bob Hall, until 2003; it was given to him by his mother as a bribe to move from New York to Florida with the rest of the family!

January 18, 2015--Here's a nice TB-1 dating to 1931 and featuring one of the rarest of the many inlay variations seen on this model.

January 17, 2015--The spring and summer of 1942 saw the shipment of one of the last lots of RB-75 Mastertones to be produced; #F5883-3 left the factory on May 12th of that year and, after allegedly being owned briefly by none other than Bill Monroe, was played for decades by Wilkes County, North Carolina musician "Cousin Melvinia".
 

January 4, 2015--I hope to complete my project of documenting Gibson banjo shipping totals sometime this year.  Here are the totals for August 1938; along with many interesting banjos shipped that month, one puzzling ledger entry recorded the shipment of "maple syrup", "jelly", and "fishing tackle" to a Joe LaCoste on August 16.
 

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