The banjo pictured above is a TB-3 with a ball-bearing tone ring and dates from 1925, the first year of Mastertone production. It conforms to standard catalog specifications for the style 3 of the time with maple neck and resonator, single white binding on the fingerboard and and back edge of the resonator, two-piece flange, nickel plating, Presto tailpiece, fiddle-shaped peghead, diamonds and squares inlay, and Brazilian rosewood fingerboard. Mastertones from 1925 are readily indentifiable by two features unique to that year: The ball-bearing tone ring has holes on the outside skirt and the Mastertone logo appears on the peghead inlaid in small individual letters rather than on the fingerboard engraved in a mother of pearl block.
#8090-51 is accompanied by a lesson card dated 1928 from the Imperial School of Music in St. Louis, Missouri for this banjo’s original owner, Charles Dexheimer. The director of the Imperial School of Music, A.C. Brockmeyer, was a longtime Gibson teacher-agent.
Photos courtesy of Mike Halterman.