I recently rescued this little gem from an estate sale near Boston, MA. The head was trashed and it had some rust. After careful study of head replacement techniques, material research, and some elbow grease it is reassembled with a new head and clean hardware. She sounds like a beaut in her current form.
I'm hoping someone can help me figure out a curious thing about this Banjolele... the neck and body are off by one number on the SN, which I understand is early 1920's. While the mother of pearl inlay isn't the most incredible I found in my research, it seems unusual for these to be embellished at all, I've seen a few with a MoP star and some fret dots, but not much else. This one has a nice inlaid head tuner head with VEGA and scrollwork along with some fairly complex fret dots. Most interestingly is a name (H.J. Per.eira.) in the last fret, punctuation as shown. I've not had any luck IDing the name or finding anything remotely similar to this online. Stats are below. Any pointers including ideas about market value would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!
Type: Banjo Ukulele
SN: Ring: 40395, Neck: 40396
Body diameter - 7-7/8"
Inside of nut to end of 12th fret: 6-3/8"
Try looking up the name in Boston city directories starting in 1918 and forward/backward about 5 years. You might find the original owners address and occupation.
The banjo is likely a custom. I especially like the one digit difference in the two stamped serial numbers.
Also, the 1918ish serial number is incongruous with the Vegaphone era peghead inlay.
Maybe at some point it was sent back to the factory for a neck repair/replacement.
What a little beauty...wish it were mine !
I once owned a very early WL # 7 with consecutive serial numbers:
I was told that it was owned by Mr. Page of the Page tuners at some early time, and had some unusual features.
Probably yet another custom order.
Great find !
I hoping to see it up in the Marketplace here in a little bit...
A plainer version of that headstock first appeared in late 1923 with the Vegaphone Professional.
This is more elaborate and hand engraved. I've never seen another like it. I have no problem believing that it could be 5 years older.
Why can't estate sales in my area have banjos like that?
Thanks, Mike, could be. But I think that if Vega had that logo in the late 1910s then we'd see it more often in pre Vegaphone era banjos.
I'm not saying they did not have it - I don't know.
But after David L. Day left there were many design changes. Maybe one of those changes was to begin using that logo (that they might have had for years) on standard catalog models.
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