Gibson PB-3 Mastertone #8262-11, the “Ray Mills”

#8262-11 (see Gibson banjo serial numbers vs. factory order numbers) is a plectrum-necked Mastertone dating to 1926 and conforming to standard catalog specifications for the style 3 of the time with maple neck and resonator, single white binding on the fingerboard and and back edge of the resonator, ball-bearing tone ring, two-piece flange, nickel plating, Presto tailpiece, fiddle-shaped peghead, diamonds and squares inlay in a Brazilian rosewood fingerboard.  It remains in excellent original condition (with only a replaced tailpiece attachment nut) including a period Rogers calfskin head and is housed in its original flannel-lined #521 case by Geib and Schaefer.  The case is in good condition with some wear to the black Tolex covering, a leather strap replacing the missing handle, and one missing latch.  

The banjo’s owner fills us in on its history:

“My dad, Bill Duplisea, age ninety-three this May (2014), grew up in Gray, Maine, a small town outside of Portland.  His dad, my grandpa, was a dental assistant who made teeth, etc. for patients.  With him worked a man named Ray Mills who had fallen on some bad times.  In about 1933, Mr. Mills hocked the banjo for cash.  My grandpa found out about it and, as my dad is a natural talent with music, bought the ticket from Mr. Mills and went down and claimed the banjo for dad.  Dad was about twelve years old at the time.  My dad did take some lessons, but said he never went too far with it.  Accordion was his main instrument, which I also have.  While my dad was away in World War II and then in college after the war, he kept the banjo on the farm in Gray.  In 1951, he married my mum and they moved lock, stock and barrel–including the banjo and accordion–to Rochester, New York, where he spent his career working for Kodak.  The banjo sat tucked away all those years with dad bringing it out on occasion to play for the family.  My dad transferred to Kodak Colorado in 1976 and when in 1992 they moved to Texas, he gave the banjo to me.  I spent my career teaching music and English in the public schools in Wyoming and have just retired.”

Bill Duplisea is pictured above with #8262-11 in 2013.

Photo of Bill Duplisea courtesy of Pam Schweigert.