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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: SS Stewart Special Thoroughbred Serial Number

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4stringjo - Posted - 11/25/2019:  13:22:33

Wondering if those with knowledge of SS Stewart banjos could better narrow down the date of the serial number 50090? Thought I was close but seen some conflicting comments so now not quite sure. It’s at the beginning of the 50000 series....thanks.

Joel Hooks - Posted - 11/25/2019:  13:54:47

Hi Joey,

There are no reliable lists of serial numbers for SSS banjos. The one on Mugwumps is not accurate.

Post photos, full front, back, side, peghead (front and back), hardware, fifth peg position front, back and side, heel. inside of the rim, markings, and anything else you think would help.

With that we can narrow it down to a decade or perhaps even a half decade.

4stringjo - Posted - 11/25/2019:  13:59:36

Hey Joel....thanks, I’ll do that. Photos coming shortly.

4stringjo - Posted - 11/25/2019:  14:42:02

Here are a couple photos I had on hand.

Joel Hooks - Posted - 11/25/2019:  17:39:23

Thanks for posting the photos.

Okay, you have a very late 1890s or even post 1900 Stewart & Bauer Co. banjo.  The turn buckle heel cracker was introduced on November 1st 1896.

That peghead pattern was used very late.  I have not been able to track down exactly when it was introduced.  I have a feeling that it was first used right at, or just after SSS' death and certainly after the partnership with George Bauer.

The tailpiece is a period correct option.  They were advertised in the SSS Journal and listed in the Stewart and Bauer catalog.

It is a nice banjo, shame about the wire strings, but those are the times we live in I guess.

What did you come up with from Mugwumps?


4stringjo - Posted - 11/25/2019:  18:18:32

Thanks for that info....The strings were detuned steel lights when I found the banjo and I changed to Nylgut soon as I did the photos. The neck is absolutely perfect with no bow or twist and the action is low and ear piercingly loud with that old time sound. Mugwumps has the tailpiece Pat. Dated 1895 and one post I read from “America’s Instrument, The Banjo In The Nineteenth Century” has a Stewart banjo with S# of 54073 and dated it to 1898 which is the year SS Stewart died and the beginning of the 50000 serial numbers so my s# of 50090 would have put it earlier if that was correct? The heel cracker bar has two different sets of markings that I believe are dates but hard to decipher but if I can eventually make it out, might help a little....PS, no heel crack so far! Thanks again.

trapdoor2 - Posted - 11/26/2019:  06:11:59

A little added info...

The Elite tailpiece is a later model, patented in 1895. It differs from the earlier version by having slits cut in the bottom skirt vs a second set of pegs. The later model (if you could somehow prove it was original to the banjo) is further evidence of a later banjo.

Other 'clues' are the depth of the heel carving and the lighter colouration in the interior rim wood. Generally speaking, the depth of the carvings get shallower over time. They also tend to get simpler...and by the turn of the century, they're very simplistic.

I think all of this supports Joel's assessment. I would put this as post-Stewart, but only just.

Joel Hooks - Posted - 11/26/2019:  06:26:22

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