Gibson TB-1 #9877-14, the “Tommy Peterson”

#9877-14 is a style 1 tenor banjo dating to 1931 (see Gibson banjo serial numbers vs. factory order numbers) and was originally owned by Wisconsin native Tommy Peterson.  Peterson was born on January 15, 1903 in Wiota Township, Wisconsin and died on April 24, 1993 in Monroe, Wisconsin; his daughter-in-law recalls that he “was most known for his love of music. . . he also played on the Lawrence Welk show.”

In an example of Gibson’s legendary banjo production idiosyncrasies, every other TB-1 that has surfaced from lot #9877 features the engraving pattern of the gold-plated, engraved Granada model on the tension hoop, as seen on TB-1 #9877-50.  The Tommy Peterson TB-1 would almost certainly have originally had such an engraved tension hoop, but is currently equipped with a newer five-string hoop.  With the exception of the replaced tension hoop, #9877-14 is in original condition and is one of a small number of 1930s style 1 banjos featuring four, rather than the typical three, resonator lugs (another characteristic of banjos in lot #9877).  The banjo is housed in its original flannel-lined case which resembles a #511 Geib and Schaefer but does not bear a Geib and Schaefer stamp on the bottom; it may be one of the cases produced by Gibson in-house during the period 1929 to 1931 as identified by researcher Joe Spann.

#9877-14 remained in the family of Tommy Peterson until December 2013.  Since it came to live with me at Christmas time I thought I would record a quick sound file of “Joy to the World” with it:


I have now brought #9877-14 a little closer to its original specifications with a tension hoop by Jaroslav Prucha featuring Granada-style engraving by Nick Kimmons and nickel plating by Steve Huber.