I recently acquired a 1920's Paramount Banjo - either a Leader, Aristocrat, or a Style C (pix in my album: banjohangout.org/myhangout/pho...?id=27999) . The neck was custom built in 1966 by R.L. Givens of Los Angeles (RIP) for Mike Fay (a Tenor Banjoist and Bassist in the L.A. area). I recently touched base with Mike Fay by email. He said he couldn't remember if the original banjo was a Leader, Aristocrat, or Style C, but that Bob Givens made two necks for it - a Tenor and a Plectrum. The Plectrum was warped and lost some time ago. Mike hadn't seen or heard about the banjo in years and was happy it is still around. The metal parts show corrosion and it needs a good cleaning but it is set up nice and plays sweetly and LOUD - love those archtops. I hope to have it refurbished to its original glory.
Your Paramount banjo left the factory as a standard Aristocrat model. Style C Paramounts were of mahogany with special purfling around the lower inside and outside of the rim. Please see the photo below. Style C Paramounts were also nickel plated.
Paramount Leader banjos were made from Easr Indian Rosewood which is subsantially darker than the rim and resonator of your banjo. Leaders came in two models. The standard Leader was nickel plated. The Leader Special was gold plated.
Your Paramount appears to be of Walnut with satan gold. That and the resonator trim are consistent with the catalog specification fot the standard Aristocrat model. By 1930 there was also an Aristocrat Special model having an enameled side skirt with a floral perforation pattern and fancier resonator trim. Yours conforms to the standard specification.
There appears to have been some part swapping done on your Paramount Aristocrat. The side grooved tension hoop is a 1930's feature. The armrest is the early type. Later Paramount armrests resemble a hotdog frank and are thus called hotdog armrests. The bent and twisted bar was introduced about 1922.
That tailpiece was intreduced in 1924. Earlier version were stamped, "Improved Paramount Pat. Pend'g". Later ones were stamped "Paramount Patent Pnd'g".
If you care to share the serial number stamped inside the rim below the tailpiece, it may be possible to better estimate the date of production. I have accumulated quite a database of Paramount banjo serial numbers remaining from the days when I collected Paramount banjos.
quote: There appears to have been some part swapping done on your Paramount Aristocrat.
I will stand corrected on this point. There is a Paramount Aristocrat among Mandolin Brothers inventory: mandoweb.com/Instruments/Param...1928/2436 that is equipped quite the same as yours, visa vie the early armrest and later tension hoop It shows the latter tailpiece and top hoop with the early bent brass barstock armrest.
So with that example, I retract my surmise regarding parts swapping.
Also by comparing these pictures you may get an idea what your Paramount Aristocrat probably looked like before the new neck was added. It was a pretty fancy banjo when new.
i spent the lAST 5 YEARS WITH RL GIVENS HE WAS IN IDAHO HE DIED IN 1993 IN THE EARLY DAYS HE WOULD MAKE THINGS LIKE THIS TO BE PASSED AS ORIGANAL WHEN I WORKED WITH BOB HE DID NOT LIKE TO DO THIS AS HE WANTED TO BE KNOWN FOR HIS WORK HE MADE A D45 MARTIN BACK THEN THAT SOME BODY GOT AUTHITACATED MAMA CASS HAD IT WHEN SHE DIED