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Stamps on TOP of SS Stewart dowel

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Jul 4, 2020 - 11:30:35 AM
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19 posts since 3/20/2020

I took my Universal Favorite apart for a cleaning and found, on top of the dowel, two stamps. One was the number 11 and the other the number 894. I wondered if they could possibly coincide with the date of manufacture. The serial number is 175xx but, I’ve read that there is some question about the validity of the dates by serial lists on the internet. Does anyone know the reason for these stamps?

Jul 4, 2020 - 11:59:05 AM
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3339 posts since 5/29/2011

To drive someone crazy trying to figure out what they mean 125 years after the banjo was made.
Sorry, I just couldn't resist.

Jul 4, 2020 - 12:23:45 PM

19 posts since 3/20/2020

Lol, I wouldn’t be surprised!

Jul 4, 2020 - 2:37:38 PM
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2345 posts since 4/7/2010

The 11 is the rim diameter. The 894 is likely an internal control number. Though not on every Stewart, my shop has run into several where the top of the dowelstick stamp coinciding with the diameter of the banjos rim. I remember a 12-1/2" diameter banjeaurine with a corresponding stamp.

Bob Smakula

Jul 4, 2020 - 2:38:12 PM
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44 posts since 2/4/2010

I'm guessing the " 11 " refers to rim size. The " 894 " could be some sort of batch number although extra stamped numbers are somewhat unusual on Stewart banjos made during Samuel's tenure. I've gleaned some sale dates with serial numbers from my large but very incomplete run of old Stewart journals - mostly embedded in testimonials. Note that these numbers and dates are not actual build dates as instruments took some months to complete in the factory - and they might languish on dealer shelves for months or even years before selling. Despite these considerations some vague conclusions can be drawn :

May 13, 1884 - # 1563 ( Orchestra model )
1884 - # 1583 ( " Orchestra arrived " )
ca. 1884-85 - # 2185
ca. 1886 - # 2460
June 1887 - # 3205 ( " Champion arrived " )
ca. 1887 - # 3618 ( Champion )
Nov. 1888 - # 4812 ( " arrived " )
1889 - # 6357 ( metal 1889 dowel tag ) ( several seen in the # 5000 serial range )
1891 - # 8839 ( bought Jan.'91 )
1892 - # 13976 ( banjeaurine, bought 1892 )
1893 - # 13778 (orchestra )
1897 - # 15930 ( bought in latter part of 1897 )
April 30,1895 - # 16420
1897 - # 18580 ( " Special Thoroughbred arrived " )
1898 - # 19145 ( Universal Favorite recently purchased )

Eli Kaufman has theorized that serials at # 50000 and beyond may have occurred after
Stewart's death in 1898. Other have conjectured that the missing serial numbers between
# 20000 and #50000 may have been allocated for Acme Professional models which usually but not always deleted serial numbers. I'll leave that conundrum to the Stewart historians.

Jul 5, 2020 - 5:25:47 AM

19 posts since 3/20/2020

Thank you guys, that makes sense. It is in fact an 11” rim and by extrapolation, would put the manufacture date around 1886 based on Jim’s observations. I appreciate the input!

Jul 5, 2020 - 8:09:17 AM
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5607 posts since 9/21/2007
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quote:
Originally posted by Mikegivney

Thank you guys, that makes sense. It is in fact an 11” rim and by extrapolation, would put the manufacture date around 1886 based on Jim’s observations. I appreciate the input!


Hi Mike, why did you XX the serial number? Are you afraid of some sort of privacy compromise?

Could you post photos of your banjo?  1886 is a pretty early Stewart, I'd love to see it.

Full front, back, side, inside, markings, hardware, tailpiece, peghead, and anything interesting.

Thanks, Joel.

Jul 5, 2020 - 2:00:54 PM

190 posts since 4/17/2015

If the number is 175xx, a five digit number, it looks like it might probably be circa 1897, by Mr. Bollman's Stewart numbers presented above, rather than the 1886 date interpreted. Instruments from that earlier period have four digit numbers. Does that seem right?
Here is the relevant section copied:
1897 - # 15930 ( bought in latter part of 1897 )
1897 - # 18580

Edited by - Jarvie on 07/05/2020 14:08:40

Jul 8, 2020 - 5:06:05 AM
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19 posts since 3/20/2020

My mistake on the date. You are correct on the date range. The serial number is 17508. The xx’s are a holdover of my days of working with firearms. X-ing out the last few numbers is common practice in that field for security purposes. Old habits are hard to break!
The banjo is pretty common, a grade 1 UF. It is in good shape though and just needed a mild cleaning. When I took it apart I saw that stamp that was a new one on me. I do appreciate the information (and sorry about the date typo).

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