The reader sent photos.
b_and_d_montana1.JPG [ 103.34 KiB | Viewed 41 times ]
b_and_d_montana2.JPG [ 91.46 KiB | Viewed 41 times ]
What does the lever seem to do? One entry suggests that it's a muting device, maybe for practice or just to bring the volume down when someone else is soloing.
I'd have guessed skin heads just from the number of brackets. Is there a tone ring (a metal circle of some sort that keeps the head from resting right on the wood?) I'm guessing there is.
These are "Plectrum" banjos, with 21 frets. The earliest Plectrum banjos were basically 5-strings without the fifth string. The four remaining strings had the same tuning as the lowest 4 strings of a 5-string banjo if that makes any sense. Later 4-string banjos ("tenors") had shorter necks, 17 or 19 frets, and a different tuning (like a viola) that made certain kinds of Jazz easier to play. (The last generation of 4-strings, made in the '50s and '60s were cheapies made with 20 frets so they could be strung either way).
Though these are Plectrums, they show many improvements that mostly characterize Tenor banjos, so I would say they were built during the "Golden" age of the Jazz era, between 1915 and 1930, probably closer to 1920. Upgrades include the mother-of-pearl fretboard and tuning head plating, the necks being made of multiple pieces of wood to reduce warping, and the resonator and resonator flange. The cartoon characters decorating the neck imply that they were both custom pieces. All the flashy stuff demonstrated that they were meant to be played on stage in front of an audience and not just in an orchestra as most plectrum and tenor banjos were.
So few of these remain, I would hesitate to pronounce a value, but if they were in my house, it would take a great deal for me to part with them.
I found one WITHOUT the custom elements here: https://reverb.com/item/22300583-1927-b ... w.ds&pla=1
I doubt they'll get that much, since they tend to overprice by anywhere from 20 to 40%. I've seen others in worse condition priced higher, though.
Here's an archived discussion of the things you may find helpful: https://www.banjohangout.org/archive/56743
Animal-skin banjo head material is still available, if you want to try to restore them to something like their original condition.
Thanks so much for sharing,