This banjo dates to 1926, the second year of Gibson’s “Mastertone” line, and was originally owned by Isidoro Termini (1877-1964) of Buffalo, New York. Mr. Termini was a multi-instrumentalist and teacher with a studio at 136 Erie Street in Buffalo starting in 1904 and played with the Buffalo Philharmonic in the 1930s. More information on Mr. Termini can be found in the paper “Mandolin Mania in Buffalo’s Italian Community, 1895 to 1918” by Jean Dickson of The State University of New York at Buffalo. Dickson’s paper includes a 1906 Gibson advertisement from the music magazine The Cadenza featuring Mr. Termini as bandleader and mandolinist with The Savoy Trio “permanently located at The Genesee Hotel, Buffalo, N.Y.” The ad features a testimonial from the trio that they gave up their old-style bowlback mandolins in favor of Gibsons because “the proofs of excellence were so overwhelming.” Gibson notes that “(t)o have our Italian friends discard their old pet Neapolitan model is indeed a triumph.”
Mr. Isidoro’s old banjo is a typical early style 3 in every respect with dark-stained maple neck and resonator, a two-piece flange, ball-bearing tone ring assembly, and diamonds and squares inlay with a fiddle-shaped peghead. #8247-32 (see Gibson banjo serial numbers vs. factory order numbers) dates from a transitional period in which some banjos were being produced with Mastertone blocks at the nineteenth fret of the fingerboard while others still featured the Mastertone logo inlaid in small individual letters on the peghead.
Photos courtesy of Joseph Saccomanno.