Retrofret Stock # 6984. S. S. Stewart Universal Favorite #1 Model 5 String Banjo (1894), made in Philadelphia, serial # 15010, natural finish, metal spun-over rim, cherrywood neck with ebony fingerboard. This a banjo is a beautifully preserved example of a late 19th Century S.S. Stewart, not a high end model but amazingly unaltered with all original hardware and finish. The cosmetics are simple; the ebony fingerboard has mixed-size diamond inlay and headstock veneer has a single pearl star in the center. The inside of rim has attractive faux-rosewood graining and ivoroid "Universal Favorite" tacked badge. The dowel stick carries an inlayed celluloid "S.S. Stewart, Phil'a PA" logo tag alongside an impressed "SSS" headstock-shaped logo. This banjo predates the turnbuckle adjustable neck brace and does not have that feature. Originally selling for $20, this was a lower-priced Stewart offering fine quality materials with plain ornamentation. Stewart's catalogs called the Universal Favorite #1 "made perfect as can be in general appearanceļæ½in TONE this banjo can not be duplicated for the price".Overall length is 35 1/2 in. (90.2 cm.), 11 in. (27.9 cm.) diameter of rim, and 2 3/8 in. (6 cm.) in depth, measured at side of rim. Scale length is 27 in. (686 mm.). Width of nut is 1 1/4 in. (32 mm.). This banjo is amazingly well preserved for having been on this earth for over 120 years. There is a little surface wear to the nickel plating but most of the hardware is still bright and shiny, and all intact including all hooks, nuts and the simpler style Stewart tailpiece. The original celluloid pegs are also still present, which is a minor miracle in itself as they are almost always either partially or completely missing or broken by now. The neck is in very good shape, not absolutely straight (very few Stewarts are!) but is eminently playable with Nylon strings. Stewarts of this era are absolutely not suited to steel strings, and a majority of these banjos have been damaged by having been steel-strung at some point-this one has entirely escaped that fate. The skin head is very old, sounds lovely; it does have a few small pinholes but appears stable and holding up fine. The whole instrument is simply a lovely package of 19th century delight, not a top-line banjo but a fine example of Stewart's workmanship and an extraordinary period survivor. Overall Excellent + Condition.

Year Condition Color Case
1894 Excellent natural None


Retrofret Vintage Guitars
Brooklyn New York, NY
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Retrofret has been shipping instruments throughout the USA and worldwide for nearly 20 years. We have yet to experience a single instance of damage (...I hope this doesn't jinx our perfect record). Retrofret's shipping department can send parcels via UPS, Fedex, USPS, BAX, DHL and DSV Air and Yusen Air Cargo. We ship instruments and other items on a 48 hour approval basis once we received payment in full. Shipping charges and taxes are not included in the prices listed. Mail order shipments within New York are subject to sales tax of 8.875%. Shipments out of state are not subject to NY city and state tax, although the buyer assumes all other tax requirements of their municipality. Before sending payment, please call to confirm the instrument's availability and the cost of shipment.

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