Why the Serial Number of a Gibson Banjo is important

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Why is the Serial Number so Important?

If you are considering the purchase of a vintage Gibson banjo, the serial number is important in several ways.

First and foremost, a serial number can assist you in validating the authenticity of the banjo by providing a fulcrum for provenance of that particular banjo.  A VERY STRONG EMPHASIS ON THE WORD "ASSIST".  The serial number is only one piece of information that can help establish originality.  However, it is a very powerful piece of information.  If you know the serial number, you can do some research to determine if there is already some documented history and trail of ownership of that banjo.  For example, this website is one source of that information.   

Note: If you are considering buying a banjo that you don't have your hands on, e.g. from a website or internet auction (EBAY or whatever), and the seller will not reveal the serial number, BEWARE.  There is no legitimate reason that a seller will not tell you the serial number of a vintage instrument. 

 

However, there are several reasons why an unscrupulous seller would not reveal a serial number:

 

 

Note: If you are considering buying a banjo that you don't have your hands on, e.g. from a website or internet auction (EBAY or whatever), and the seller will not reveal the serial number, BEWARE.  There is no legitimate reason that a seller will not tell you the serial number of a vintage instrument. 

Some reasons a person would not reveal the serial number are:

The instrument is stolen (or the seller is unsure of the legal status - they fear it might be "hot")

The instrument is a fake

The banjo has been altered from its original configuration

There is documented public information tied to that serial number which the seller DOES NOT WANT YOU TO KNOW!