The style 1 of the 1930s was a non-Mastertone model and therefore had no true tone ring–only a small-diameter brass hoop on top of the rim. It did, however, feature the same pot metal one-piece flange and three-ply maple rim as the Mastertones of the same period. 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. 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 a minor modification–the two small indentations normally found under the fourth- and first-string tuners were absent. The rosewood fingerboard was inlaid with a fleur-de-lis inlay pattern until circa 1937, when the fingerboard inlay was changed to the simple dot pattern seen here, although the “inverted bud” peghead inlay remained.
#1109-4 (see Gibson banjo serial numbers vs. factory order numbers) was shipped on February 16, 1937 to J.D. Stacy, a Gibson teacher-agent and fretted-instrument orchestra leader in Sturgis, Michigan; two months earlier, on December 22, 1936, Gibson had shipped TB-1 #917-4 to Stacy. When sold on eBay in 2009, #1109-4 was housed in an original Geib Masterkraft five-string/plectrum red-line hardshell case. The banjo has now been converted to five-string with the addition of a neck by Frank Neat; the rim has been left uncut.
Photos courtesy of William B. Anderson.