Gibson TB-1 #1115-3, the “Bert Johnson”

#1115-3 (see Gibson banjo serial numbers vs. factory order numbers) was shipped on April 17, 1937 to Buchanan Music Shop, located on West State Street in Rockford, Illinois.  Its original owner was Bertil “Bert” Johnson, who at the age of 85 now lives in the Minneapolis area; he took lessons on the instrument from Peter Stein at Buchanan Music Shop and in later years handed the banjo down to his son.  Mr. Johnson is pictured above with Peter Stein and a group of his students at the Rockford Theater in the late 1930s.  #1115-3 is a standard TB-1 from the late 1930s, with the model’s earlier fleur-de-lis fingerboard inlay, as seen on TB-1 #9543-47, the “Ed Brenot”, having been replaced by a simple dot pattern.  The wood is straight-grain maple with a dark finish and the peghead shape is a slight modification of the fiddle-shaped design of the 1920s.  The hardware is nickel-plated, the flange is one-piece, and a small-diameter brass hoop, rather than a full-weight cast tone ring, sits on top of the rim.

Photos courtesy of the family of Bert Johnson; Original shipping information courtesy of Joe Spann.