This banjo dates to 1926, the year after Gibson introduced its Mastertone line of higher-end banjos. The highest non-Mastertone in the line was the style 2, seen here. It features a “ribbon”, “wavy”, or “serpentine” flange and a simple tubular tone ring measuring ten and a half inches in diameter as opposed to the Mastertone’s eleven inches; the wood is maple finished in a dark brown. The Brazilian rosewood fingerboard is inlaid in the pattern used on Gibson’s Nick Lucas artist model guitar. The tailpiece on this example is a later replacement.
The longtime owner of #8211-40 was George Graziani (1910-1985) who is believed to have bought the banjo used in a New York City pawn shop in the early 1930s. Mr. Graziani is pictured above with the banjo not long after he acquired it.
Photos courtesy of Bill Broome.