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I.D. and date fancy S. S. Stewart on ebay.

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Sep 19, 2020 - 11:19:37 AM
4730 posts since 3/22/2008

On ebay: https://www.ebay.com/itm/RARE-19th-C-SPECIAL-BANJO-S-S-STEWART-CARVED-NECK-MOP/174442199147?hash=item289d90b86b:g:VokAAOSwENVfZW97

From former thread concerning dating Stewart banjos by serial number: https://www.banjohangout.org/topic/368747  this will constitute a Beta run.

This ebay S. S. Stewart -  Serial Number 17243 dates to late 1896 and has the patented R. Kuenstler Neck Adapter (Neck Brace - Patent No. 523,042) and is model Unversal Favorite #4 - $100.

Yes?


Edited by - beezaboy on 09/19/2020 11:21:04

Sep 19, 2020 - 12:30:21 PM
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5623 posts since 9/21/2007

11.5" rim is a Champion.

There is no such thing as a "Number 4" Stewart. They don't exist.

There was a second price tier Number 3, but it is still a Number 3. That is what this is. Champion #3s at this time were cataloged at $50, based on higher grade #3s of other models, $10 extra got you the fancy inner rim and engraving on the rim. It also fits the general decoration of the $60 Orchestra wood cut.

$100 got you gold plated brackets/hooks and nuts, more carving on the neck, gold and garnets on the pegs, more engraving on the rim, and more junk on the fingerboard.

This banjo is a $60 Number 3 Champion.

The missing inlay might mean attic storage. The replaced tailpiece means there will likely be excess wear cause by wire strings (sprung neck, crushed/egged rim, excessive wear to the frets, chipped out nut and 5th string nut are some expected areas of damage).

Since we all have decent cameras in our pockets, I don't understand how people can post such terrible photos of a banjo they are trying to sell. Unless it was deliberate.

Sep 19, 2020 - 1:03:10 PM

4730 posts since 3/22/2008

Thanks for the correction.
I need more work especially on the model as there appears to have been many model types depending on amount of decoration.

Sep 19, 2020 - 1:19:08 PM

587 posts since 8/14/2018

quote:
Originally posted by Joel Hooks


Since we all have decent cameras in our pockets, I don't understand how people can post such terrible photos of a banjo they are trying to sell. Unless it was deliberate.


Presumably speed is an issue. The dealer appears to be unloading a pretty random assortment of estate sale finds. They want to get a bunch of photos and a description for each item up as quickly as possible, probably in a kind of assembly-line fashion. However, of course, they still want to get a premium price, but this isn't Bob Smakula or Bernunzio's; there's no assurance that the description is accurate. They probably don't know enough about vintage banjos to know what details to hide.

Edited by - MacCruiskeen on 09/19/2020 13:20:11

Sep 19, 2020 - 1:23:42 PM

4730 posts since 3/22/2008

Yes, now I find a Champion #3 right in the "Banjos The Tsumura Collection" smaller red book. Helps to know what you're looking for!


Sep 19, 2020 - 2:43:50 PM

rcc56

USA

3174 posts since 2/20/2016

"The missing inlay might mean attic storage."

Or might not.

Hide glue was all that was available when the instrument was built, and its not the best stuff for holding mother of pearl to wood, especially when it's 120+ years old. I've had inlays pop out of old Stewarts several times when I've had them on the bench for nothing more than routine maintenance [set up, re-crowning or replacing a few frets, etc.].

That's a nice banjo. If I hadn't taken the pledge a couple of years back, I would be sorely tempted.

Sep 19, 2020 - 4:52:40 PM
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587 posts since 8/14/2018

At least they’re not asking 10 grand for a broken old Kay.

Sep 19, 2020 - 6:02:16 PM
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7749 posts since 8/28/2013

quote:
Originally posted by MacCruiskeen
quote:
Originally posted by Joel Hooks


Since we all have decent cameras in our pockets, I don't understand how people can post such terrible photos of a banjo they are trying to sell. Unless it was deliberate.


Presumably speed is an issue. The dealer appears to be unloading a pretty random assortment of estate sale finds. They want to get a bunch of photos and a description for each item up as quickly as possible, probably in a kind of assembly-line fashion. However, of course, they still want to get a premium price, but this isn't Bob Smakula or Bernunzio's; there's no assurance that the description is accurate. They probably don't know enough about vintage banjos to know what details to hide.


I have to agree that most sellers, particularly sellers of estate items, generally wouldn't know what to hide.

I also disagree  with the statement that  "...we all have decent cameras in our pockets." I don't happen to have a camera, telephone, or much else in my pockets, although I do carry a pair of glasses, which aren't even totally effective when I try to focus on anything smaller than a Buick.

Sep 19, 2020 - 11:41:52 PM

rcc56

USA

3174 posts since 2/20/2016

I don't have a cell phone or a camera in my pocket either. I started my business over 30 years ago, before cell phones, and think it best not to change my phone number. Besides, I don't want to have a phone with me 24 hours a day. That's what answering machines are for. I don't understand bringing a phone into a restaurant [or music lesson] unless you have a sick family member.

I do keep a Trac-fone in my car. It costs $20 every three months to keep the service up. But since the virus hit, I'm hardly going anywhere except to the store, and I keep forgetting to recharge the battery and renew the service.

I can see really well close up. At distance without bi-focals? As they used to say where I grew up, "Forget about it."

Sep 20, 2020 - 3:32:09 AM

1582 posts since 12/26/2007

This appears to be the banjo that was sold at an auction (link below) in Mechanicsburg, PA on Sept 14th. I called in a remote bid the day before, and the banjo sold for approx 3 times what I was willing to pay based on the auction listing photos, which were not as revealing as the eBay pics. If I had seen the inside of the pot I might have bumped my bid up a little.

auctionzip.com/Listings/346314...ategory=0

Edited by - Mark Ralston on 09/20/2020 03:33:31

Sep 20, 2020 - 4:01:40 AM

1582 posts since 12/26/2007

For what it's worth, here are the pictures from the AuctionZip listing. As far as I can tell, this was a fairly small auction w/ a lot of household goods and not much else musical. The auctioneer didn't accept on-line bidding, but was willing to take a "let" bid (i.e., I told him how much I would be willing to bid). Oh well.... I missed the banjo but I did find two nice Native American silver bracelets for Linda at the Belleville auction/flea last week.






Sep 20, 2020 - 9:44:22 AM
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1272 posts since 2/9/2007

you don't see that every day.... it's got appropriate strings AND bridge on it!

Sep 20, 2020 - 6:20:01 PM

5623 posts since 9/21/2007

quote:
Originally posted by Dan Gellert

you don't see that every day.... it's got appropriate strings AND bridge on it!


Yep, four old rusty wire strings, the best kind for Stewart banjos.

Sep 20, 2020 - 7:44:15 PM

1272 posts since 2/9/2007

quote:
Originally posted by Joel Hooks
quote:
Originally posted by Dan Gellert

you don't see that every day.... it's got appropriate strings AND bridge on it!


Yep, four old rusty wire strings, the best kind for Stewart banjos.


Cmon, Joel. My old eyes haven't got that bad yet.  Sure, the first one's gone, but the rest are clear nylon.

Sep 20, 2020 - 9:44:12 PM

rcc56

USA

3174 posts since 2/20/2016

A lot of the old Stewarts are doing just fine with light steel strings, and have held up for many decades.
And yes, I know that some have warped with steel, though.

Sep 21, 2020 - 6:27:36 AM

5623 posts since 9/21/2007

quote:
Originally posted by Dan Gellert
quote:
Originally posted by Joel Hooks
quote:
Originally posted by Dan Gellert

you don't see that every day.... it's got appropriate strings AND bridge on it!


Yep, four old rusty wire strings, the best kind for Stewart banjos.


Cmon, Joel. My old eyes haven't got that bad yet.  Sure, the first one's gone, but the rest are clear nylon.


You can tell they are wire by the way the loop is twisted at the tailpiece end.  The photos are bad, but those strings are wire.

Sep 21, 2020 - 6:35:38 AM

5623 posts since 9/21/2007

quote:
Originally posted by rcc56

A lot of the old Stewarts are doing just fine with light steel strings, and have held up for many decades.
And yes, I know that some have warped with steel, though.


A sprung or bowed neck is the least of the damage possible.  Wire will eat the tiny original frets (which are no longer made-- you can get close but not exact).  Wire destroys tailpieces.  Wire can also break off the shoulder for the 5th string nut.

Since it has the neck adjuster, often these are cranked down when wire pulls the neck forward.  That puts excess stress on the dowel joint, often leading to splitting of the heel.  It can also crush/egg the thin rims that were used.

So while some "hold up just fine" they still suffer.

There are plenty of modern banjos built and being built for wire strings.  SSS died in 1898 and is not building any more of these.  So to that I ask, why risk it when there are plenty of better options?

Sep 21, 2020 - 7:12:06 AM

1272 posts since 2/9/2007

quote:
Originally posted by Joel Hooks
quote:
Originally posted by Dan Gellert
quote:
Originally posted by Joel Hooks
quote:
Originally posted by Dan Gellert

you don't see that every day.... it's got appropriate strings AND bridge on it!


Yep, four old rusty wire strings, the best kind for Stewart banjos.


Cmon, Joel. My old eyes haven't got that bad yet.  Sure, the first one's gone, but the rest are clear nylon.


You can tell they are wire by the way the loop is twisted at the tailpiece end.  The photos are bad, but those strings are wire.


Dang!  I do believe you're right.  That first shot of the peghead is just out of focus enough that it fooled me twice.

Sep 21, 2020 - 7:18:13 AM

7749 posts since 8/28/2013

I have to agree with Joel. Those are steel strings.

Even though my eyes are no longer what they were years ago, those loop ends are pretty obvious.

As for damage, I notice that the tailpiece is not original. Perhaps the original was damaged by steel strings or replaced so that steel could be used more easily.

Oct 10, 2020 - 4:58:26 AM

205 posts since 1/26/2020

As was discussed in my former thread, officially it’s a Universal Favorite #3 that I now own

https://www.banjohangout.org/topic/369266/#4673659

Edited by - tbchappe on 10/10/2020 04:59:51

Oct 10, 2020 - 6:48:52 AM

4730 posts since 3/22/2008

The purpose of this thread was to determine the date of manufacture by serial number and I gave it a try. In so doing I learned many things about identifying S. S. Stewart models. Thanks to all for setting me straight on Stewart models and that the rim size and neck length are important keys. Meanwhile, no one commented on the year of manufacture stated in the original OP. I think I nailed it dead on. No waffling with circa ("ca.) stuff. I once inquired of two of the best known banjo dealers around about what they meant by circa in their write-ups. They said 5 years plus or minus. I don't know what era they were thinking about when they responded but we were at a pretty much 19th century banjo convention. As a 20th century tenor banjo guy I like to know year and "circa" hopefully should be plus or minus 5 months. Sometimes, though, you just have to fudge with a "ca." Call it a chocolate fudge waffle.

Oct 10, 2020 - 6:57:32 AM

205 posts since 1/26/2020

quote:
Originally posted by beezaboy

The purpose of this thread was to determine the date of manufacture by serial number and I gave it a try. In so doing I learned many things about identifying S. S. Stewart models. Thanks to all for setting me straight on Stewart models and that the rim size and neck length are important keys. Meanwhile, no one commented on the year of manufacture stated in the original OP. I think I nailed it dead on. No waffling with circa ("ca.) stuff. I once inquired of two of the best known banjo dealers around about what they meant by circa in their write-ups. They said 5 years plus or minus. I don't know what era they were thinking about when they responded but we were at a pretty much 19th century banjo convention. As a 20th century tenor banjo guy I like to know year and "circa" hopefully should be plus or minus 5 months. Sometimes, though, you just have to fudge with a "ca." Call it a chocolate fudge waffle.


It was also to I.D. the banjo. I just wanted to put the finalized correct model to the serial# after the back and forth in this thread, in case anyone referenced it later. I do a lot of thread searches on here, myself and didn't want someone else getting confused, as I have on occasion.

As for the date, I agree in that I think you nailed it, based on all of those references. I also came in here to find that auction site that Mark had mentioned.

Blaine

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