The higher Vega banjo models from before the late 1930s are famous for the engraved mother-of-pearl inlays, a tradition Vega inherited from the Fairbanks banjo company. The problem, of course, is that engraving on fingerboard inlays doesn't hold up very well if the banjo actually gets played very much. The engraved lines are inked with a glue solution, so the finely carved lines appear black, and the dark coloring often just falls out, or the engraving wears off. This Vegaphone Artist from the mid-1920s has about the most well-preserved original pearl engraving we've seen, and the engraver used bold strokes so there's a lot of contrast between the sparkling pearl shapes and the dark designs carved within them.
With the exception of the new head, this banjo is original throughout, with nice figured maple neck and warm shaded figured maple on the back of the resonator (the sides of the resonator are faux tortoiseshell celluloid, like Martin's pickguards from a few years later). The neck has only very very slight relief, and the original frets are in good shape . The gold plating is excellent and all parts are original. This was made shortly before Vega began using shading lacquer finishes, so maple looks more natural and you can see a lot more of it. The original hardshell case is not in the same exceptional condition as the rest of the banjo itself, but this is an impressive 90+ years-old package from a company that essentially defined the American banjo during the first decades of the 20th Century.
stock no. 55926
|Model||Vegaphone Artist 19-Fret Tenor|
|Nut width||1 1/8"|
|Flange||Vega individual sections|
|Resonator||Maple "Pie Slice"|
|Binding||ivoroid on neck|
|Tuners||Planets w/ Ivoroid Buttons|