The style 1, priced at $50, was a mainstay of Gibson’s lower-priced non-Mastertone line of the 1930s. Style 1 had nickel-plated hardware and a dark-finished maple neck and resonator, with white binding on the neck and both edges of the resonator; the tailpiece was an inexpensive type referred to in Gibson catalogs as the “Grover first model”. Even though the Mastertone models had by this time gone to the double-cut peghead shape, the fiddle-shaped peghead was retained on style 1, with minor modifications–the two small indentations normally found under the fourth- and first-string tuners were absent, and the “points” of the peghead were sharp rather than squared off. The rosewood fingerboard was inlaid with a fleur-de-lis inlay pattern which is also known by such varying names as “gulls” and “flying birds”; shortly after #1019-15 (see Gibson banjo serial numbers vs. factory order numbers) was shipped, Gibson began using simple dot inlays on the fingerboards of style 1 banjos (see TB-1 #917-18, the “Gordon Florey” ), although the “inverted bud” peghead inlay remained.
This style 1 tenor banjo was shipped on October 19, 1936 to the Indianapolis, Indiana location of the Pearson Company music stores; its original owner was Indianapolis resident Albert Wayne Lee who, according to his grandson, was a foreman at International Harvester and played this banjo in the evenings to supplement the family’s income. #1019-15 remains in original condition with its flannel-lined #511 case by Geib and Schaefer.
Photos courtesy of the family of Albert Wayne Lee.