Fairbanks/Vega Tu-Ba-Phone #9 Model 5 String Banjo (1921), made in Boston, Mass., serial # 45097, shaded maple finish, laminated maple neck and rim, ebony fingerboard, original black hard shell case.
Overall length is 37 in. (94 cm.), 11 in. (27.9 cm.) diameter head, and 2 3/4 in. (7 cm.) in depth, measured at side of rim. Scale length is 27 in. (686 mm.). Width of nut is 1 5/16 in. (33 mm.). This lovely old banjo appears to have seen a lot of use but has been well treated over the years, and remains a superlative playing instrument. There is some very old overfinish to the neck, a thin clear varnish over the original shaded maple that is itself fairly well worn. The rim finish is unaltered. The hardware is a mix of different ages; the tuners are late-1920's tabbed Grovers , gold plated with what look to be the original pearl buttons.
The 5th string tuner is a geared Grover from a later period, likely 1960's or '70's, also with an older pearl button. The tailpiece and hanger bolt are correct Kersher-style but not marked and appear later than the period of the banjo. The gold plating has a lovely muted look overall-if this banjo was re-plated it was a long time back.
The frets are in good order; it appears to be an older refret with correct style wire, with some use since. The inlaid pearl markers are in very nice condition-there are a couple of tiny filled divots in in the fingerboard, and the two lowest position pearl pieces have some light wear. This banjo has obviously enchanted generations of banjoists seeking the absolute best in an openback 5-string, and will likely continue to do so over the next century. This old #9 rings for days and it's hard to imagine a finer old-time banjo than this, both in look and sound. Includes the original period "bump" HSC.