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Gibson Florentine Plectrum Banjo custom made for and played by The Mitchell Brothers (1928)
Gibson Florentine Model Plectrum Banjo (1928), made in Kalamazoo, Michigan, Blonde lacquer with painted trim finish, "white holly" rim, neck and resonator; pearloid fingerboard and headstock, original black hard shell case.
When Gibson decided to go for broke and challenge the top established makers of the late 1920's in the ultra-fancy orchestra banjo sweepstakes, the Florentine was their top-of-the-line offering. The Florentine was first listed in 1927 at $450.00 as a "Custom Built" banjo, requiring 6 weeks or so to complete to the artist's specifications.
The whole instrument is covered with carved, painted decoration, and there were four wood options offered with 5 different binding accents to select from. Gibson described the model as "The world's finest, most luxurious banjo" and while Bacon & Day or Vega might have begged to differ, this IS one over-the-top fancy creation. While Gibson would go on to create an even more elaborate banjo, the patriotically inspired "All American" in 1930, when this Florentine was made it was the company's absolute top of the line instrument.
This particular Florentine Plectrum dates to 1928, and was custom made for the Mitchell Brothers, a well known banjo duet act of the day. It is a fairly typical example of the popular "American white holly" wood choice, with binding style #5 (wide inlay with diamond sections) and the standard white pearloid headstock and fingerboard. The headstock decoration is in colored rhinestones with a red Gibson logo and the multi-colored "Ice cream cone" decoration. The pearloid truss rod cover is inscribed "Mitchell Brothers". All hardware is gold plated and engraved; this banjo features the 40-hole archtop tone ring current at the time. This is a lovely example of Gibson's highest banjo art, and an important piece of 1920's banjo history.
Overall length is 37 3/4 in. (95.9 cm.), 11 in. (27.9 cm.) diameter head, and 3 1/2 in. (8.9 cm.) in depth, measured at side of rim. Scale length is 26 1/4 in. (667 mm.). Width of nut is 1 1/8 in. (29 mm.). Appears all original and little disturbed from its 1920's heyday; shows signs of serious play but no damage or repair. The painted scenes on the fingerboard are somewhat faded and rubbed, but most of the outlines are still intact. There is some checking and very minor chipping to the finish, but overall very little damage for a professionally used instrument. Gold plating substantially intact, frets appear original and in good playing condition. An extremely well preserved example of one of Gibson's most singular creations, and one of the flashiest banjos ever built. Excellent Condition.
Item # 4291
This item has been sold.
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