S.S. Stewart Wondertone #1029 Banjo Ukulele, made by Majestic , c. 1928

S.S. Stewart Wondertone #1029 Banjo Ukulele, made by Majestic ,  c. 1928

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Item # 8362
Prices subject to change without notice.
S.S. Stewart Wondertone #1029 Model Banjo Ukulele, made by Majestic, c. 1928, made in New York City, green lacquer finish, maple neck, rim and resonator, period black hard shell case.

Although the S.S. Stewart banjo brand was once the pride of Philadelphia, by the early 1920s it had passed to New York's Bugeleisen and Jacobson, one of the largest wholesale jobbers of the day. They applied it to many varied fretted instruments including banjos, guitars, and ukuleles. This high quality and extremely striking-looking banjo ukulele was sold as the "Wondertone" #1029 with green accents, and also available with blue as the #1028 and plain maple as the #1026.

B&J's Stewart-branded instruments were sourced from a variety of suppliers, including Gibson and Harmony, but this one is a product of local NY luthier Gaetano Puntolillo. This Italian immigrant luthier ran a small factory that built a surprisingly large number of banjos sold in the NYC area under several brand names, including his own tradename Majestic.

Of course the first thing that stands out on this instrument is the lustrous two-tone green-and-maple finish, very unique for the 1920s and instantly eye-catching even today! Beyond this, it has a full Majestic-style round-hole flange that laps over the resonator edge, an odd just over 8" head size, and an unusually long scale neck. The nut width is very narrow as well, and the instrument feels more like a small tenor banjo than a ukulele.

The maple resonator is decorated with multiple strips of colored wood, and the center strip of the fingerboard is contrasting laminated wood. The small but fairly heavy rim features a raised metal tone ring and full sheath flange, an unusually elaborate set up for a miniature banjo of this type.

The sound is sweeter than many but quite powerful -- you could play in an orchestra with this one! B&J's catalog stated "This is not alone a very fine-toned instrument, but the fancy colored veneers used makes [sic] it very attractive." The #1029 was listed at $34.00 retail around 1929, already noted as sale priced and a discontinued item! This one is currently set up in ukulele tuning with Nylgut strings, but would also work well in a steel-string "piccolo tenor" mode. This is the only example of this model we have seen and a very cool and unusual 1920s banjo oddity.
Overall length is 24 1/2 in. (62.2 cm.), 8 1/8 in. (20.6 cm.) diameter head, and 3 in. (7.6 cm.) in depth, measured at side of rim. Scale length is 15 1/2 in. (394 mm.). Width of nut is 1 1/8 in. (29 mm.).

This instrument remains in very nice condition overall, with some light wear but all original. The only repairs are to several very old stress cracks in the area of the neck just under the heardsock; they are not open and appear to have been there for a very long time. The headstock was never broken or split off and this appears complately solid, and was likely originally caused by the instrument bouncing around inside the case long ago.

The unusual green and natural lacquer finish shows small dings and flaking and the plating has minor corrosion but the instrument is quite attractive. It plays and sounds very well; currently set up in ukulele tuning with a low 4th string. Includes a very nice period deluxe HSC that it may have been in since new but that is branded Washburn, so is a product of Lyon & Healy. Excellent - Condition.