S.S. Stewart-brand TB-11, the “Maynard Yocum”

The banjo pictured above is labeled “S.S. Stewart” but was in fact manufactured by Gibson.   During the prewar period Gibson produced instruments for a number of other companies, including Montgomery Ward which sold Gibson-made instruments under the Recording King brand.

The pot of this banjo is identical to that of a Gibson style 11, featuring pearloid decorated with red and black silkscreened designs on the back of the resonator along with a blue finish on the rim, the sides of the resonator, and the back of the neck.  Although other colors are seen on these banjos, blue seems to be the most common and style 11s are consequently sometimes referred to as “blue banjos”.  The hardware on this banjo is nickel-plated and the one-piece flange is pot metal.  Style 11 banjos had a small brass hoop which rested on top of the rim, but no Mastertone-style tone ring.  The neck of this banjo differs from Gibson’s style 11.  Although it shares style 11‘s pearloid-veneered peghead overlay and fingerboard, the stenciled designs are not the same as those found on style 11 and the peghead is a non-Gibson shape.

The banjo remains in its original case along with a number of vintage string packages, the original bracket wrench, and a braided silk cord of the kind commonly used as a strap in the 1930s.  The inside of the banjo head is marked with the date 1931 and the name of the original owner, Maynard Yocum, a resident of Danville, Pennsylvania who lived from 1896 to 1983.

Photos courtesy of Claudia Ball.