Gibson TB-3 Mastertone #8226-22, the “Nicholas Barbarito”

This TB-3 dates to early 1926, the second year of Gibson’s “Mastertone” line, and was among the first Mastertone banjos to be manufactured with “Mastertone” engraved in a mother-of-pearl block at the last fret rather than inlaid in individual letters in the peghead.  #8226-22 (see Gibson banjo serial numbers vs. factory order numbers) is also one of the earliest Mastertones without holes in the outer skirt of the ball-bearing tone ring assembly. 

The longtime owner of this banjo was Nicholas Barbarito, who was born October 13, 1888 in the Basilicata region of southern Italy.  Having been classically trained in Italy, Mr. Barbarito later emigrated to the United States and was active as a professional musician through the late 1940s, playing guitar, mandolin, violin and piano in addition to the banjo; the Library of Congress National Jukebox includes a 1923 Victor recording of “Hawaiian Medley Waltz” by Barbarito and his partner Warren B. Patterson.  The date “10-4-32” inscribed inside the rim would seem to indicate that Mr. Barbarito bought the banjo used at that time; he died in Camden, New Jersey on November 1, 1967.

Photos courtesy of Dan J. Barbarito.