Style 3 was the least expensive model in Gibson’s Mastertone line; it was introduced in 1925 and remained in production through 1937, when its price was lowered from $100 to $75 and it was renamed style 75. The style 3 of the 1920s featured dark-stained maple, a two-piece flange, a fiddle-shaped peghead, and diamonds and squares inlays. In 1929, the specifications changed to those seen here; #9488-26 (see Gibson banjo serial numbers vs. factory order numbers) is from one of the first known lots of “1930s-style” TB-3s, with mahogany neck, mahogany resonator with white binding on both edges and two concentric circles of black and white purfling on the back, a one-piece flange, forty-hole archtop tone ring, Presto tailpiece, Grover tuners, and a double-cut peghead and Brazilian rosewood fingerboard inlaid with the leaves and bows pattern.
Although the overall condition is excellent, the resonator exhibits two noticeable spots of wear which can likely be attributed to an early (and inadequately padded) instrument stand such as the “‘Simplex’ folding model for banjos” listed in the accessories section of some prewar Gibson catalogs; the same wear pattern can be observed on the resonator of PB-Florentine #9227-1, the “Robert Moses Cruz”, which was accompanied by just such a stand when it surfaced in September 2012.
Photos courtesy of an anonymous collector.