TB-3 #8750-50 dates to 1927 (see Gibson banjo serial numbers vs. factory order numbers). It features the no-hole raised-head tone ring frequently seen on Mastertone banjos from this period; the large Gibson logo on the peghead of the tenor neck is an unusual characteristic seen on a few other banjos from the late 1920s, including TB-6 #9153-14, the “Jimmie Smith”.
This example bears a “Made in U.S.A.” label inside the resonator, indicating that it was originally shipped outside the United States. Here’s more of the banjo’s history from current owner Richard Newton of Rugby, England:
“Gibson Mastertone #8750-50 was bought in 1965 from a widow in the Radford area of Coventry. The deceased husband had bought it new and played it in jazz and banjo bands. I converted it to a five-string instrument with several different necks and it finally got an authentic repro RB-3 neck which came part-finished from First Quality Music in Louisville, Kentucky in 2000. The neck inlays have now been customised with extra diamond and square inlays in positions where there were none in the original style and the peghead has been changed to the 1925 style where the word ‘Mastertone’ is inlaid into the peghead under the Gibson script. This left the block inlay at the twenty-first fret free so that I could have my name engraved instead. Only the wood rim now has the original factory lacquer finish and it still has its original ‘no holes’ archtop tone ring. The nickel-plated rim hardware is original but the tuners and tailpiece have been upgraded with later high-quality components such as Keith D-tuners and a Fults tailpiece.”
Photos courtesy of Richard Newton.