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, a slightly simplified version of the fiddle-shaped peghead was retained on style 1. The rosewood fingerboard was normally inlaid with a fleur-de-lis inlay pattern which is also known by such varying names as “gulls” and “flying birds”.
This style 1 tenor banjo dates to 1930 and bears the factory order number #9774-22 (see Gibson banjo serial numbers vs. factory order numbers) stamped in the wood rim and written inside the resonator. While most style 1 banjos featured only three resonator lugs and screws, this example has four resonator screws and, like many four-lug style 1 banjos, was probably shipped with no armrest.
#9774-22 remains in excellent original condition; the calfskin head is labeled in pencil with a stock number and price of five dollars and the banjo remains in its original “red-line” #511 case by Geib and Schaefer. The original owner of this TB-1 was Dana Schweinle Scholl (1913-2016), a native of Tomball, Texas who spent her early life in the Houston area. As a young woman she worked briefly as a burlesque dancer in Galveston and operated a cafe in Houston, where she met her future husband, Joe Scholl. After marrying, the couple moved around the country as Mr. School worked on various construction projects, and the Illinois driver’s license number engraved on the tension hoop is presumed to be that of Dana Schweinle Scholl.
Photos courtesy of Joe Kimsey.