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Gibson Banjo Serial Numbers
   There are several places on the Internet to find Gibson banjo serial numbers. The most extensive list of pre-World War II serial numbers can be found at Tom Biggs Banjo Pages website. A compilation of numbers from the 1950's and 60's can be found at David Teal’s Bowtie 250 website. For more recent serial numbers check out the Gibson Guitar Corporation website. What follows is a short summary of the serial numbering system.

1918 - 1924 Trap Door Design
   The earliest Gibson banjos have a three digit Lot number only, evidently beginning with 101 and running as high as 758. Then about 1920 the Lot numbers were expanded to four digits and a prefix of “1" was added in front and a suffix of “A” at the end. The significance of the added prefix “1" and suffix “A” are unknown. It is at this point that the hyphenated two digit Bin numbers make their first appearance.
1918 - 1919 101 through 758?
1920 - 1924 1 1003A-xx through 1 1988-xx


1925 - 1945 Mastertone Design
   When the Mastertone banjo was introduced in 1925 Gibson simplified their serial numbering system. From this point forward it consisted of a four digit lot number followed by a two digit bin number (i.e. 9556-13.) With rare exception, all Gibson banjos with the same lot number are of the same style. The second number or bin number indicates what position the instrument occupied in the lot. For example, an instrument bearing the serial number 9556-13 would be the 13th banjo manufactured in lot 9556. In the following list the approximate starting Lot number is shown for each year. It is the contention of this author that Gibson produced very few or even no banjos in the years 1931 and 1935. Therefore they are not represented in the following list. Divisions are based on the appearance of certain features and models. The Lot numbers reached 9999 sometime in 1936 and so they begin again with a one digit Lot number of “3" about that time. About 1937 Gibson began placing a one or two letter prefix on the Lot number. The significance of this action is unknown.

1925 8000-xx 1932 9450-xx 1938 943-xx
1926 8200-xx 1933 9500-xx 1939 4100-xx
1927 8600-xx 1934 9550-xx
1928 8850-xx
1929 9100-xx 1936 3-xx
1930 9300-xx 1937 346-xx

   Complicating this scheme was evidently a second production line operated by Gibson in the year 1928. The instruments from this line were mostly custom built Bella Voce and Florentines as well as Granada and Style 5. These are all easily identified because their four digit Lot numbers begin with zero.


1948 - 1959
   From 1948 to 1961 the serial numbers are tricky. A wide variety of styles have been noted. Some banjos appear to have a continuation of the old Lot number and Bin number system. A collected list of 1950's serial numbers can be seen at David Teal’s Bowtie 250 website.


1960 - 1969
Gibson banjo serial numbers are in same sequence as the Gibson guitar serial numbers from 1961 to 1969. Check the Gibson Guitar Corporation website.


1970 - present day
A variety of systems have been used. Check the Gibson Guitar Corporation website.

 

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