The Florentine was introduced in 1927 and was one of the most ornate Gibson Mastertone banjos ever produced. Like the Bella Voce, the Florentine was offered in a variety of finishes; this example is finished in what Gibson called “white holly” but was actually white painted maple. The majority of Florentines were tenors; this is a rare plectrum model, with the same scale length as a five-string.
The 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. Typical of the Florentine, this banjo is elaborately carved and painted on the resonator and neck, and the hardware is gold plated and heavily engraved. The flange is two-piece and the tone ring is a forty-hole archtop.
Photos courtesy Stan Jay/Mandolin Brothers.