1922 Vega Fairbanks Tubaphone #9 Banjo & 1924 F4 Gibson Mandolin
I used to play banjos and go to all the contests, the fiddle/banjo contests and things like that, and so I took up the banjo, and as I progressed, I just decided I'd try bluegrass, and I needed a bluegrass banjo, so I bought that particular banjo. And my wife, she played the mandolin, and I had a daughter that played the fiddle. I never got proficient in bluegrass, so that one didn't get too much wear.
These are two nice instruments you brought in today. The one closest to you is an F4 Gibson mandolin from 1924, and it's in really beautiful condition. It's red sunburst, no cracks or repairs anywhere on it. It's a really terrific F mandolin. The banjo you brought in is a Vega Fairbanks Tubaphone #9, which is their highest grade Tubaphone banjo that they ever made. This one is from 1922. It's in really great condition in many ways. The hand engraving on the mother-of-pearl on the ebony fingerboard is in beautiful condition. The engraving on the tail piece is in beautiful condition. And it has a very nicely carved heel, very intricately carved and done by hand. This level of quality was only done on the #9 Tubaphone. So this is really a beautiful, beautiful banjo.
Was this carving custom, or was that...?
Actually, this resonator is aftermarket. It is marquetry done by hand. And all the metal parts on this banjo, over here, there, including the flange and the rim and the tail piece, were all gold plated. This is originally a nickel-plated banjo, so somebody spent literally thousands of dollars accessorizing this banjo. They added rhinestones all over the headstock in a nice pattern, nicely done, this really fancy pick guard, as well as hand engraving done all over the instrument in places where there originally was not hand engraving. So it might have even been as much as $3,000-- $2,000 to $3,000 worth of extra work was done accessorizing this banjo. Could you tell me what you paid for them originally?
Yeah, I'm not positive, but I think for the banjo, I think it was, like, $1,200, and I think for the mandolin, it was, like, $700 or $800.
The bad news is that after spending a large amount of money accessorizing this banjo, the retail value is about $5,000, and it would have been worth $7,500 at least if it hadn't been accessorized. So a third of the value has been lost by spending a pretty large sum of money on it. The good news is that on the mandolin, which nobody has touched, which is in really excellent original condition, it's worth $7,500 today.
They're both really fine, fine instruments, and congratulations.
Well, thank you.
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