The mandolin-banjo, with a banjo body but strung and tuned like a mandolin, was extremely popular in the banjo ensembles which Gibson actively promoted in the 1920s. This 1924 (see Gibson banjo serial numbers vs. factory order numbers) style 3 instrument features the “trap door” resonator design which would be replaced by the flange-and-resonator construction introduced with Gibson’s new Mastertone line the following year. The “wriggle” peghead shape was unique to style 3 mandolin-banjos of this period. The interior of the case lid carries a label reading “E.P. Melvin / Everything for the Musician / Pasadena, Cal.”.
This mandolin-banjo’s current owner gives us some history of the instrument:
“I bought it from an old farmer here in Huntington Beach named Mr. Banks. My mom knew Mr. Banks from the little community musical/theater troupe that played together back in the 1950s, and as a boy I watched him play this mandolin-banjo. He came to some of the concerts that I played, and in 1963 he asked if I wanted his instrument. I happily said yes, and he just wanted to give it to me, but I paid him fifty dollars for it and enjoyed playing it for the next forty years or so until my arthritis stopped me from playing altogether”.
Photos courtesy of an anonymous collector.