In most respects, #9903-46 (see Gibson banjo serial numbers vs. factory order numbers) is a typical mid-1930s TB-3; the flange is one-piece; the wood is mahogany with two white/black/white purfling rings on the back of the resonator, and the peghead shape is double-cut. There is single white binding on the neck and on both edges of the resonator. The tone ring is a forty-hole archtop, and the tailpiece is a Grover Presto.
This banjo deviates from catalog specifications, however, in one notable way; the bottom of the rim features the fancy “Christmas tree” binding used on some of Gibson’s most elaborate gold-plated and engraved Mastertone models of the 1920s. A number of such unusual features have been observed in banjos from lot 9903, indicating that for some reason Gibson chose this lot as an opportunity to use up various leftover components.
The banjo’s truss rod cover is engraved with the name of the original owner, Chas. A Clark.
Photos courtesy of Charlie Cushman.