This nice 1923 TB-5 Gibson showed up on eBay this morning. Mighty purty. But I am really puzzled by the appearance of two wide bands around the outside of the pot, one where the tone ring skirt normally shows, and another nearer the bottom of the pot. Those who know these pre-Mastertones, are those wide bands of MOP????
Scroll WAY down in this link to some nice close up photos of outside of pot. I've held old pre-Mastertone TB 5s in my own hands and never noticed anything like this.
From what I see in the side photo it looks like "faux wood graining" to me. It was commonly done on furniture of that period, but I've never seen an instrument done that way other than some of the minstrel era banjo rims.
It could be actual wood grain, but it looks a bit odd for any flat grain figure I'm familiar with.
Lot 11984 was the earliest TB-5 lot listed in Spann. All trapdoor 5s had the MOTS band around the rim. The one here does have an unusual grain pattern though, and the fretboard inlays are different from later ones; the tailpiece is not original. I have one record of a litter-mate, -25, that had a 5-string neck on it (with a hand-stop), probably a later replacement, but the owner said a well known dealer had appraised it as original. So there were at least 25 TB-5 in that first lot. However, I do know of at least 2 TB-5s from 1922 that bear serial numbers, not FONs.
Maybe 40 - 50 yrs ago I converted a late 20's PB5 to an RB & had a difficult time procuring the greenish pearloid that made up part of the neck purfling which was also @ top & bottom edges of the resonator . Seems there was something else sandwiched in with it --- maybe a fine strip of black & white .
I'd guess MOTs myself. This is a nice banjo, even with that ugly non-original tailpiece. I like the black edging on the pickguard.
I also belive this is a 1924 model, not a '23 as listed.
I wouldn't mind having it, but as usual, I don't have that much to spend, and being a purist when it comes to most of these things, I'd probably drop dead of old age searching for the correct tailpiece.