So I bought this banjo in rural Minnesota for $10. No serial numbers, no brand stamps anywhere. Neck appears to me to be mahogany, fretboard rosewood, head was skin for sure, has that star inlay. But there is this faded stamp on the back rod that appears to say "The University Banjo." I say "appears" just because the "Uni" is a little starched up, however the "Versity Banjo" is pretty clear. Pot is 11" Based on the general construction of it, it seems to be original neck to pot pair.
I searched the vast ocean of internet high and low for "The University Banjo" and found nothing. The only thing I found was someone on Reddit posted a banjolele from the mid 20s that had the same dot inlays and star on the headstock, and was called the "SS Stewart University Banjo" This would have been that company who bought out SS stewart I suppose who made the banjo yuke, Bugellsein & Jacobson. Not sure if perhaps they also had an option to do a regular banjo as well for the same model. Still doesn't make sense why there are no serial numbers.
I plan on either restoring this to a semi original state, or scooping the fretboard, filling in the fret notches, and making myself a fun clawhammer fretless banjo since I currently don't have something like that. If y'all recommend I don't do that (for the historic value), I'll probably just refret it, clean it up, put a fiber head on it and either sell it or hold on to it.
I REALLY appreciate any help you may offer.
EDIT: This is my first post, not sure about this websites way of posting pictures it seems... strange. SO I made a website showing the pictures. Apparently I also can't copy url links on this forum too? So copy this and enter it to your browser I guess.
I recognize the workmanship, but don't remember for sure whose factory it came out of.
Yes, a "jobber's" instrument, very possibly made for B & J.
Not valuable enough to worry about originality. Beware of the condition of the fingerboard before you start pulling frets, though. If it's a dyed board, it might start to fall apart. Of course, if the board is shot and you want to make it fretless anyway, any nice piece of hardwood will work.
Certainly plenty of banjo for 10 bucks, even if you have to slap a new board on it.