A Timeline of Trumpets
My Collection in Chronological Context
Elements of the Collection on Display at the Birmingham Historical Museum in 2014
In the Beginning
The modern humans, the homo-sapiens, having appeared on the earth approximately 200,000 years ago, music and the trumpet predate our species. The closest analog to our Heidelbergensian pre-lingual proto-human ancestors half a million years ago would be wolves. The society of these first ancestors was one of pack animals bound together for mutual benefit and protection under the leadership of an alpha male. They were territorial, yet nomadic as territories became depleted. They were hunter-gatherers, though unlike wolves, their lack of natural weaponry was offset by their increased brain function and rare status as not only tool users, but the first complex tool makers. They used fire. They hunted, dined, and lived together as a pack. Most importantly, in the wolf, we can see a fairly unique trait they share among the species capable of vocalization that remain non-lingual – they sang.
For the proto-humans, the voice was a critical tool just as it is for the wolf. When the pack hunts, the members spread out across territory in search of prey. When it is sighted, they vocalize to signal the pack to come together for the attack. The first pre-lingual vocal concepts of the future human race were likely first “pain!” for which all vocal species seem to have expression, second “back off or I will hurt you”, and third “come here”. That third item is at a higher level of brain function in the concept of drawing friendly forces together for some reason. It requires not just a condition, but a purpose intended to be addressed by the actions of others.
After the hunt, some scholars, looking to present-day simians, believe that triumphant vocalization was utilized to celebrate success. They also suspect that by the time proto-humans began rudimentary funerary practices, vocalization of sadness was also probably a part of human culture. The next extension of this supposition is that, like the wolf and some monkeys, in the evening after eating and before rest, they vocalized together as a communal activity. What sounds like howling for no reason to us, was the very first music and came well in advance of spoken language or even homo-sapiens.
Evidence has been found at ancient pre-human sites suggesting that our ancestors’ music did not stop with vocalization. It appears that they engaged in percussive noise making as well utilizing available wood, stone and food by-products. It is in this practice that the trumpet may originate. One day, some proto-human was playing with the remnants of his food around the communal fire and happened across an animal horn with its tip broken off. For whatever reason, demonstrating the curiosity that would facilitate the exploitation of the large cranial capacity of the genus, he blew on it like a trumpet and probably startled the pack into an alarmed state. Soon, however, it would have been accepted as a new noise maker along with bones, stones and sticks. The trumpet is thus among the very oldest of musical instrument concepts.
As noted, proto-humans, signaled one another to come together when prey was sighted. At some point, one of our ancestors with a sore throat or other need, must have decided to use an animal horn trumpet in place of his voice. Once that innovation occurred, use for signaling not just prey, but alarm and victory would surely have followed. This utilitarian use of the trumpet ensured its survival beyond the dawn of man, beyond when clanking bones and the first, literal, “rock music” faded from our culture and into the age of lingual modern humans pre-70,000 BC - the date of the earliest symbolic writing on bone utensils.
By the peak of the last ice age 22,000 years ago the other proto-humans that survived the Sumatran super-volcano in 70,000 BC (which reduced the homo-sapiens to perhaps hundreds, and one mitochondrial study indicated as few as 12 couples of child-bearing age) had dis-appeared.
When the glaciers had receded and human civilization began to emerge 9,000 years ago, the Neolithic Revolution had transitioned hunter-gatherers to farmers. Packs evolved into tribes. Pipes, bells, flutes, harps, drums and string instruments were seen from Africa to the North-East Asian coastline. The oldest known recognizable instrument is a Cro-Magnon bone flute from 44-40,000 BC. However, ancient horn trumpets cannot be distinguished from other Pleistocene and Neolithic uses of animal horns. Also, trumpets were only used as signaling devices, not instruments generally in the earliest civilizations.
(Ram’s horn Shofar from Microsoft Clip Art Library)
When the population and technology of early Egypt reached the point of permanent settlements and non-agrarian occupations, the stage was set for the first imperialism. Tribal leaders fought for control of territory, resources, and skilled craftsmen consolidating Egypt. Over 5,000 years ago, the first Pharaoh, Menes, established the first empire. He did so through the utilization of his large army, which demanded command and control at a distance. There were four technologies available for such. The voice was too weak to be heard at even minimal distances over the roar of battle. Smoke signals were effective only for long distance, imprecise and non-time-critical signaling. The sound of drums blended into the noise of combat using clubs, slings and stones. This left the animal horn trumpet and history records this as the primary battlefield command and control tool of ancient armies in the middle-east.
Trumpets as Musical Instruments
Once the bronze age reached Egypt around 2750 BC with its established culture of permanent settlements, professional trades and mercantile economy, Egypt exploded onto the world stage as the first great superpower economically, and ultimately, militarily. With trade networks spanning the Mediterranean prior to the demise of the Minoan trading civilization around 1500 BC, Egypt imported materials and exported finished goods including ceramics, stone work, copper tools, chariots, weapons, and most of all, beer. With wealth and power, the Pharaoh’s Court became the political center of the ancient world and the physical spaces had to accommodate at times hundreds of people.
Scarcity of materials in Egypt would motivate not only a change in the physical nature of the trumpet, but restore it to status as a musical instrument. Wood was scarce in Egypt. The old theory that Egyptians lacked the technology necessary for block & tackle lifting, wheeled transport of heavy material, or any modern construction techniques is false. Egyptians had wheels, but not soil that could support high tonnage on them. Likewise, they could devise a crane system, but had no rope material that could withstand the loads. Egyptian architecture is a byproduct of the scarcity of wood and these other factors. Building large rooms was best accomplished by assembling columns to support the roof as well as the walls in “lifts” – a term still used today. Earth was ramped up by basket transport and used to slide stone into position before being re-excavated. Precious timbers were used only to span the columns with a roof. With thick columns to support a high roof emphasizing the grandeur of the king, but also giving the heat somewhere to rise in the desert climate, these were massive stone chambers which were acoustically very “live” due to the abundance of hard surfaces. One other notable trait is that Egyptian architecture lacked the concept of either raised seating or a stage beyond a small dais.
Imagine then the plight of a Chamberlain, tasked to announce the Pharaoh when he enters his throne hall amidst hundreds of loudly talking people, most of whom cannot see around the wide stone columns or over each other on the flat floor, as he shouts to be heard and get the crowd prostrate so as not to anger the king. One can envision a frustrated Chamberlain, seeking a means to be more effective, seeing one of the king’s guards with a military horn bugle on his side and ordering that it be played to gain the attention of the crowd. From there the tradition of heralding the entrance of the sovereign begins. As every role in the Egyptian Court became specialized and amplified to the highest possible mode, this task would have passed to dedicated Court heralds who, as musicians rather than soldiers, would have then composed music for the task. In addition, everything in Pharaoh’s Court was of the highest quality and a simple animal horn was not appropriate for a king who expected everything in his bronze-age world to be made of the new technology, metals. Therein were created the first metal trumpets – the oldest known of which, one silver and one brass, were found in the 1323 BC tomb of Tutankhamen and existed in the Egyptian National Museum until its 2011 sacking by the fanatical forces of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Romans expanded their family of cornu or post horns beyond those needed for signaling and used them for military music much as Scottish regiments use bagpipes still. Trumpets were used in Greek theater and on Alexander’s battlefields. Large straight horns, often with banners suspended, played fanfares in the courts of kings, cardinals, and petty noblemen. With the church concerned about the evil potential of music that moves the listener in unseen ways, the cardinals’ heralds were among the first instruments to break down the barrier to music in the church. Below is a 1930s H.N. White Liberty Herald Trumpet not unlike those used for every purpose from announcing royalty to starting horse races.
By the time of the Renaissance, ca. 1375, the herald trumpets and post horns of Roman times had evolved into the “natural trumpet”, which is a full wave instrument. The length from mouthpiece to the bell flare reflection is the wavelength of the fundamental pitch. By building it with a low fundamental, just shy of nine feet for a Bb pitched horn, it can then be played above the 6th partial where the notes come close together. The only real difference between a bugle and a natural trumpet is the number of notes possible in its intended soprano octave.
For chromatic ability in this voice, there were three options during the baroque period. The oldest of these instrument families was and a cross between a brass instrument and a recorder, typically made of wood, called a cornetto. The cornetto, which probably began as a modified version of an animal horn trumpet, functioned by opening and closing holes in its tubular body while initiating a tone with a cup mouthpiece. The net effect tonally however was something one reviewer at the time described as “unrivaled in brashness”.
Next was the pitch bending skills of natural trumpet players. The third option, appearing around the dawn of the fifteenth century just a few years after the first natural trumpets, was the soprano sackbut. While infinately chromatic, these were challenging to play with good intonation due to the significant effect of minor position errors. They were essentially the same as a trombone, just shorter.
Above is an E.F. Durand (possibly Asian-made, possibly VMI – definitely cheap) “slide trumpet”, which is essentially a modern soprano sackbut. Unlike natural trumpets, these are half-wave horns. The natural trumpet was also adapted as the slide trumpet in later centuries with a plunger-operated rear slide to offer half step, whole step and greater alterations on a full-wave horn, but in an unwieldy form.
As mentioned previously, the practice of heralding nobility was an early functional role of the trumpet that persisted through time. By the 18th century, this practice evolved a unique application, the coach horn, or “post horn”.
Nobility in fuedal Britain had right of way over commoners when traversing the roads, and further required proper reception upon arrival at destinations and intermediate stops. To signal the approach of nobility, the practice of using heralds on the road as a party approached had evolved from the initial heralding upon entrance to a place. In August 1784, a new entity emerged that would be granted the absolute right of way on the roads, the postal coach.
Postal coaches utilized a four-in-hand system, a carriage with passengers, top-mounted driver and rear-mounted guard with the postal box, pulled by a team of four horses in a two by two configuration. As the practice evolved, a positillion rider was added riding the lead horse who could better observe the road ahead at the high speeds these carriages traveled, and who could take control of the team if necessary in place of the driver. Speed was a top priority of the postal service, so postillions were soon asigned the task of bloiwing trumpet calls to warn travelers ahead to clear the road, and to alert the next postal drop of the impending arrival of the coach just as heralds had functioned for centuries as nobles travelled from place to place.
The last mail coach ran the Oxford to London route in 1914 according to Encyclopedia Brittanica. While coach horn use became rare after 1850, it was preserved by riding and carriage clubs through the twentieth century, as well as in the form of “posting” horses at race tracks. The roadway concept continues in the form of car-horns today.
In the 1980s, President Ronald Reagan issued an apology and authorized payments of $20,000 each to surviving Japenese-American internees from World War Two. One of the largest Japanese internment camps outside of California was built in Seabrook New Jersey at the behest of John Seabrook, who hired the disposessed and unelmployed Americans to work on the massive Seabrook Farms, which supplied food for the US Army. Life at Seabrook was far better than for other internees, and many remained at Seabrook farms and established a permanent Japanese-American community there after the war, so it was perhaps not the most accurate example of what the internees had faced. When the Reagans visited Seabrook however, John Seabrook took them out on his four-in-hand coach “Nimrod”, one of many he collected, sounding correct coach horn signals as they rode.
Above, is one of the rarest of the depression-era H.N. White bugle family, a King #1076 Coach Horn in G/F. The horn is 42 inches long and separates into two pieces. This horn appears to have seen considerable hard use, and the bell has been extensively reshaped to undo the effects of that to a decent degree. 19th century postal versions were sometimes 1-piece and shorter, or looped hunting-style horns.
1760 Modern European Brass Making Begins
In 1760, Johann Hemple invented a system for embedding tuning crooks within slides as part of the body of a natural trumpet instead of constantly shifting the position of the mouthpiece. Called an inventionshorn, the first working models are built for him by Johann Werner in Dresden. Around 1780, Parisian brass maker Joseph Raoux (born ca. 1825), whose firm is said by some to have originated as early as the last decades of the 17th century, but which seems to become visible around this time, refined the design of the inventionshorn into the cor-solo, which he intended specifically for solo use. It was said that the artist Carl Turrschmidtt played a key role in Raoux’s design development.
Also in the 1760s, the music publishing firm of Boosey & Co. was established in London.
In the 1790s, Lucian Joseph Raoux (1753-1821) took over control of the family business, possibly upon the death of his father Joseph. He marked his horns with a distinctive LJR. His son, Marcel August Raoux (1795-1871), joined the firm in 1821, again, succeeding upon his father’s death.
In 1789, the father of Antoine Courtois (1770-1855), whose name would be placed on what is now seen as the oldest brass instrument company, opened a workshop in Paris making natural horns and bugles. The future Leblanc firm had been started by Denis Noblet in 1750, but would not include brasswinds until the advent of the American firm after World War Two. Ten years later, Courtois’ instruments would be in use among Napolean’s troops.
1800 Chromatic Brass Take Hold
In 1800, the Swiss firm of Hirsbrunner, first founded by Christian Hirsbrunner in the 1770s, expanded into the production of brasswinds. In 1803, the original Courtois died, and his family launched two successor businesses. The first, which later became Antoine Courtois, was named Courtois Brothers, and the second something to the effect of “The Three Sons of Courtois’ Nephew”. In England, craftsmen such as Samuel Keat were also experimenting as they searched for an alternative chromatic form of brasswind. This would be the keyed bugle, which developed across Europe in the last decades of the eighteenth century. By the time Joseph Halliday pateneted the Royal Kent Bugle in 1810, keyed bugles had swept the music scene and were being crafted by hundreds of individuals and small shops around the world.
That same year, Johann Langhammer established a workshop in the Bohemian instrument making center of Gralitz. The many workshops of this area of the Sudetenland would be the most prolific source of brass instruments in Europe for the next 125 years.
In the United States, brass instrument production did not appear until after the critical invention that paved the way for chromatic trumpets – valves. Like the cornetto, the keyed bugle suffered from the same limitation as the cornetto which was that poking holes in brass instruments does not produce a pleasant sound. To produce an instrument that would resonate cleanly like a natural trumpet, valves to alter the length of the air column were necessary. The first valves were invented by Heinrich Stölzel and Friedrich Blühmel in 1814. These were a piston valve with one port through the piston and a second that turned from the side down toward the bottom. These served as a simple switch which routed the side port to/from the bottom when up, or directly across across top ports, through a loop, back in a lower side port on the entry side and in/out the bottom when down.
In 1815, the Labaye firm was founded in Paris where Marcel Raoux then took over for his father in 1821.
In 1823, Samuel Graves and his two sons William and George began an instrument making business outside of Boston. In 1827, the workshop of August Guichard opened in Paris. While Graves focused on woodwinds, Guichard exploited the Stotzel valve and began building two and then three valve cornet like instruments generally grouped together under the name cornopian.
A cornopean built by the successor firm to Guichard, Gautrot around 1873-1882 is below. This Brevette model, keyed in Bb, A, Ab, & G was sold by Rudolf Wurlitzer & Bro. in the United States and a plate with the Wurlitzer name is affixed to the bell. Wurlitzer expanded from a part-time operation founded in one room in 1856 to a major instrument maker and importer in less than a decade thanks in large part to being the leading supplier of instruments such as this to the US military during the Civil War.
Sometime in the century, the instrument below was made. While it has the looks of a bugle, it is a natural trumpet, but built in a more practical and modern multi-loop wrap. The horn lacks a tuning slide and is pitched as-is near low pitch C#. This suggests that it was likely used in combination with a number of crooks to serve in orchestral settings as a C, Bb or A trumpet – perhaps more. There is no maker indicated and the transition from bell stem to flare is quite primitive suggesting that this is an early piece by a new maker.
In 1834, the firm of C. Bruno and Sons was established as a catalog reseller of instruments, many of which came from the workshops of Graslitz and other Bohemian towns. Bruno had emigrated to the US just 2 years earlier. By 1836, they were selling C.F. Martin guitars in addition to many other products. After the Civil War, Bruno became a leading retailer of stencil band instruments, many made in Bohemia.
Also in 1834, Jacques Christophe Labbaye (1814-1878) took over the family firm in Paris from his father. In 1835, piano maker Steinway was founded, which would one day become the owner of the majority of band instrument makers in the United States.
In 1837, John Distin found himself out of work once again, when the band he had led in England was disbanded due to economic concerns. Distin had previously been bandmaster to King George, and had seen that band dissolved following the monarch’s death. Distin was an intriguing personality, who had married his wife Ann only after the death of her husband in 1829 – some decade and a half after they began maintaining a household – and 12 years after the birth of their first child. Their second, Henry Distin, would play an important role in the history of American instrument manufacture.
The 1837-1838 period had a most profound impact on the future trumpet. In 1837, James Keat, son of Samuel, joined Graves and sons and steered the firm into the production of keyed bugles. Elbridge G. Wright was working for Graves at the time and was one of those to learn the trade from Keat. In 1838, the perinet valve, a piston valve that routed air across through ports that changed elevation and rotation as they passed through the piston allowing for modern tubing placement, was invented. It was immediately put into use by August Gustave Besson in his first cornet.
Additionally in 1838, Joseph Lathrop Allen ((b Holland, MA 24 Sept 1815; d c1905) established a workshop building keyed bugles and similar brass in the US, while in Paris, a twenty year old Adolph Sax began his firm. He experimented with valved brass instruments which rapidly became popular for their ease of playing and which were built as voiced families of brasswinds. Starting his business the same year as the perinet valve became available, it was Sax who would give his name to brass instruments using that valve in general. While Sax did pioneer the modern brass instrument family, his skill at self-promotion must also be duly credited for achieving the name “Saxhorns” as a synonym for brass instruments for many decades. Among Sax’s promotional tools was “The Distins”. John Distin and his four sons formed a quintet and began touring Europe as promoters of the brass band concept and Sax’s instruments.
The perinet valve was not alone in new technologies facilitating chromatic brasswinds. It had been derived from the Berliner Pumpen, a similar piston valve that turned ports at right angles when depressed – but overly constriced the airway due to lack of space. Disc valves, which required sealing means not available to the craftsmen of the time emerged in central Europe, and the rotary valve also emerged around the same time and was generally seen as easier to work with than any of the above. The rotary valve worked using two back to back 90 degree elbows within a cylinder. When the cylinder was rotated 90 degrees, the port to port connections shifted accordingly.
Back in Boston, in 1841, Elbridge Wright had learned enough brass crafting from Keat to strike out on his own and established a workshop in Boston at 71 Sudburry Street. In 1844, the firm Courtois Brothers, with Antoine’s son Denis Antoine Courtois(1800-1880) at the helm, was renamed Antoine Courtois. The companion firm renamed to August Courtois in 1847.
1842 saw a brass maker set up shop in Manchester England by the name of Joseph Higham. Pivotal in the history of British brass bands, in 1855 when the band in the village of Queenshead in Yorkshire was restructuring, John Foster and Son sponsored an entire new set of Higham instruments. The band was renamed as the Black Dyke Mills Band. One of the last traditional Higham cornets, circa 1930 is below.
In 1845, the Guichard firm bacame Gautrot by marriage and was firmly established as a leading maker of cornopians. The same year, V.F. Cerveny, a firm that would be re-established in the 1990s as one of a handful of private entities to emerge from the Czech communist collective into which all Bohemian firms had been merged in 1946, began as a small Czech owned workshop alongside of the many German owned firms of the central Sudentenland.
The invention of the rotary brass instrument valve is sometimes credited to Vaclav Frantisek Cerveny (7/27/1819 -1/19/1896). The second son of farmer, Jan Cerveny, who learned reading and math from a priest while hiding from the military draft as the priest’s farmhand, and Anna Beranova, Vaclav moved with the family to Brezany near Cesky Brod in 1823 where he learned to master the clarinet through the local parish as well as learning horn and bugle. In 1833 he began an apprenticeship in Prague with Jan Adam Bauer making bugles, horns and sackbuts. In 1836 he moved to study with Anton Klepsch in Vienna, and then Franz Schollnast in Bratislava, and briefly with the Bereghtzasi firm in Pest, before returning to the region of the family farm in Brno Bohemia where he worked as a craftsman for Jakob Zidrich and Josef Hallas. Finally, in 1842, he returned to Viena to study with Johann A. Bauer, another in the family whose work defined imperial brass instruments, but left to start his own workshop in Hradec Kralove. In 1846, he patented his first designs with a new invention, the transposition rotary valve.
Though he had dodged the draft, Cerveny made a career of building instruments primarily for military bands. In an equally ironic happenstance, his younger brother Frantisek became a wanted traitor in Austro-Hungary after 1848 – so then fled to the United States and began building instruments.
Throughout the decade, The Distins toured. In 1848, they experienced significant stressors first with John’s sudden and serious illness, and then with the death of Ann. Henry chose the same year to marry Jayne Baynes, and the reformed family departed for the United States for a planned one year engagement. While they were in transit, the concert hall burned, and the family had to improvise a continental tour instead. In 1849, Henry Distin, established a retail and manufacturing business named Distin & Co. in London. He quickly expanded to compete with Sax.
In 1849, Hubert Eugene Vasielleiri (19 Feb. 1826 – 2 Sep. 1870) established a music store in Charleville, France. He sold his own compositions and arrangements as well as instruments.
Band Music becomes Popular
In 1850, a young Johann Heinrich Martin (24 Feb. 1835 – 25 Nov. 1910), began an apprenticeship in brass instrument making with Christian Hemming in his home town of Dresden. During the five years of his apprenticeship, his brother, Gottfried Robert Martin (ca.1835-1900) would leave for the United States and in 1852 established a small brass instrument workshop at 1 Franklin Square in New York. Also in 1850, Martin Fuchs (1831-1893) opened the first “mechanical workshop” for instruments in Graslitz.
The 1850s were a time of considerable growth and competition in the brasswind market. Samuel Graves fell upon hard times and turned to borrowing shop space, tools and probably craftsmen from E.G. Wright, leading to horns marked as made by Graves and Sons in the factory of E.G. Wright. Both firms by this time were building rotary valve brass in families from soprano to bass. The market in New England must have been challenging as Joseph Allen’s firm reincorporated with partners twice in 1852 and 1858.
John Henry Martin (his anglicized name) joined his brother in New York in 1855 as the GR Martin firm relocated to 34 Forsyth Street. The firm moved again in 1858 to larger quarters at 59 Forsyth.
According to historian Niles Eldgredge in his work “The French Connection”, the perinet valve cornets of the 1840s closely resembled the stotzel valve cornopians they descended from. This changed in 1854 with the introduction of the Modele Anglais by the Antoine Courtois firm. This model placed the valves between the leadpipe and the bell stem for the first time, unlike the cornopians which placed the valves outside of the bell, necessitating a longer reach.
The advent of the Modele Anglais then necessitated finding a descriptive name for the older form, which became the Modele Francais. An LeCompte example of the Modele Francais from the 1870s is below.
This particular example is in original condition in the original skeleton lock wood case with all of the pitching crooks that would have been used to change key as needed just like the cornopians.
This horn was made by LeCompte sometime after 1873, when the store to whom it is stenciled, that of Vasielleiri Fils in Charleville France was succeeded by the Roland firm (also marked on the bell), and into the period between 1876 and 1888, sometime during which LeCompte began including their own name in the stencils, as that does not appear on this example.
In 1857, Marcel Auguste Raoux sold the family firm to Jacques Christophe Labbaye. Labbaye moved the Raoux-Labbaye company to Rue Serpente 9 in 1860 and then Rue des Minimes 14 et 14b in 1875. In 1878, he then sold the firm to Francois Millereau, who had been previously in the employ of the Besson company since roughly 1861. Millereau then labeled the horns Raoux-Millereau.
Also in France, Sax had manipulated French patent law to unjustly claim all forms of brass instruments as his intellectual property. A lawsuit by many smaller makers failed and Sax sought retribution with continued litigation against G.A. Besson. Besson responded to the court’s award by announcing he had no assets (having transferred them to his wife) and left the country for England in 1858. He promptly began manufacturing the same instruments, continuing the same serial numbers, in London under the Besson name while his wife re-established the firm in Paris.
1860 Troubled Times
The 1860s then followed with the dramatic impact of the American Civil War on the popularity and proliferation of bands in America. Roughly one in every three Southern regiments and almost every Northern regiment had a band of some form during the war. Military music in the US prior to this time had been the domain of fifes and drums with the occasional bagpipe. The only brasswind present would be the bugle, but that was a command and control tool generally, not an instrument. It was, however, in 1862 at Berkeley plantation, family home of Benjamin Harrison V, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, and President William Henry Harrison (also never-returned rightful estate of his grandson President Benjamin Harrison), that the bugle came closest to being a musical instrument with the establishment of the uniquely American tradition of Taps over the grave of fallen soldiers. Taps was arranged from the Scott Tattoo by General Damiel A. Butterfield, who, while unable to read or write musical notation, had a staff bugler, Oliver Wilcox Norton, who could. Norton later recounted how Butterfield had him alter the pattern of the tattoo until it fit what he wanted, and then write it down. The adaptation to graveside use came later, as Butterfield had merely been seeking a better “lights out”.
General Butterfield and Oliver Wilcox Norton
In 1861, Gustav Bohland was registered as a brass instrument maker from Graslitz for the London exhibition. His name also appears on a Graslitz restaurant in Baeumenstrasse in 1865.
Joseph Allen partnered briefly with cornetist David C. Hall. The partnership lasted only one year before Hall left to start his own firm in Boston, DC Hall Band Instruments. Allen would change partners three more times in the decade (1862, 1865, 1868). Also in Boston and just across the street from E.G. Wright’s firm, Hall would take on partners, the Quinby brothers, in 1866 to become Quinby & Hall.
David C. Hall
Wright had to take on partners as well, joining forces with Louis Hartman and Henry Esbach, two talented master craftsmen. In 1864, Anton Holly began building brasswinds in the Austro-Hungarian imperial style in Pilsn in what today is the Czech Republic but at that time was part of the Sudetenland with its mixed Germanic and Slavic demographics. In Chicago in 1864, George W. Lyon and Patrick J. Healy established their music store.
Also in 1864, GR Martin moved several blocks away to new quarters at 43 Greene Street in New York. The building still stands as pictured in 2014. Brother John Henry Martin left around this time to establish “The Martin Co.” in Chicago.
Under the name “Tommy Atkins, a fourteen year old actually named William Gronert enlisted in the British Army in 1866. Gronert would serve as a military musician for nine years before mustering out and moving to the United States where he would play a key role in the future of Elkhart and its makers.
In 1867, GR Martin then formed a partnership, located upstairs in the same building via the stairway door at 41 Greene Street (the door at the left). Martin & Slater was a partnership with English emmigre Moses Slater (1826-1889). During that same year, Slater also had a partnership, Gordon & Slater, with Stephen Gordon at the same location. Moses Slater was running his own operation, Slater Musical Instruments, first at 538 Broadway, starting in 1865, and then relocated to 706 Broadway in 1867. He shut this firm down at the end of 1868 along with the Gordon partnership.
In 1868, Boosey & Co. Bought the Distin Company and entered into the brasswind manufacturing market with the synergies that a well established music publisher and retailer could exploit. Their future partners, Hawkes & Son had incorporated in 1865. For many years, Boosey & Co., headquartered on Regent Street in London, built the same instruments that Distin had built, even retaining the eagle crest and serial number placement on the bell. Below is an 1886 example of such a Boosey & Co. cornet.
In 1869, Martin & Slater moved into new quarters at 221 Greene and focused on their singular business together. In England, after selling his company, Distin began a series of failed concert promotions. In Boston, Hartman and Esbach forced the merger of EG Wright & Co. with Graves & Sons to create the Boston Musical Instrument Manufactory.
While the manufacturing industry was going through growing pains in the 1860s and the concept of the band as popular music was becoming firmly established, the instruments were also undergoing change. In 1867, the Besson company launched a new cornet, very similar to its prior models and recognizable still today as the basis for the classic cornet wrap, ths horn had an innovation. Where the leadpipe returned from the tuning slide on early small cornets, in order to have enough length, it passed forward of the third vlave casing quite far and then returned. The new design placed a slide in this loop which could be used to change the pitch of the instrument, eliminating the need for both B-flat and A shanks between the mouthpiece and the horn. That advantage was not realized in 1867 however, and the original design featured a slide only long enough to adapt between high and low pitch tuning standards. Below is a 1922 Besson of this same design, differing only in that the 1867 valve caps would have had cork risers while this horn uses taller caps with inset felts.
The 1869 merger with Graves upset EG Wright and he left to join Hall’s firm in competition with Boston. The firm was known as Hall, Quinby, Wright for about a year until Wright’s 1871 death at which time it became Hall & Quinby. In 1870, Gustav Bohland and Martin Fuchs jointly bought a house at at #354 Long Lane (Langen Gasse) in Graslitz and subsequently a 2 story factory, formerly the Johann Kostler Harmonica Works, that was renamed the Bohland-Fabrik founding the partnership Bohland & Fuchs.
When the 1871 Chicago fire destroyed JH Martin’s operation there, the impact to the Martin family was severe. GR Martin had been building a large new facility, which Henry Distin, who was working in a pub in 1870 following his bankruptcy, would later call a “monster” at #31 Courtlandt street. His partnership with Slater moved to a nearby Courtland Street building at #36 (shown mid-frame on the right). #31 Courtlandt appeared briefly on horns labeled “Martin & Co.”. (Courtlandt St. from Church to Greenwich including #30-61 in 1875 with odd numbers on the left is shown on the left.)
However, following the Chicago disaster, that name was replaced by a new partnership at #31 Courtlandt and the first partnership became Slater & Martin, likely reflecting a change in principal ownership. Slater and Martin would continue through 1874 when Slater founded a new Slater Musical Instruments company at #42 Courtland that lasted at various addresses beyond his 1889 death until 1920.
Below is a cornet made by Martin & Co. at #31 Courtlandt in 1871 at the peak of the Martin Brothers’ business ventures. It is among the oldest surviving Martin cornets.
In 1872, the two Martin brothers then converted Martin & Co. into a partnership with Henry August Pollman, who came from outside of the music industry. The firm of Martin, Pollman & Co. operated at #31 Courtland until 1879 and then as Martin Brothers until 1885. Formerly the site of a hotel, during the Martin years, the address was also home to a variety of businesses from pigeons & supplies to washing machines, an agro-supply warehouse & seed store, a bakery, and the Wakefield Earth Closet Company.
The Martin site at #31 Courtlandt became retail space with mixed commercial use above on the periphery of New York’s “Radio Row” in the early 20th century. In 1965, the entire Radio Row district was siezed under eminent domain following suits that reached to the New York State Supreme Court, and demolished to build the Word Trade Center complex. #4 World Trade stood on the site of the Martin businesses and Courtlandt itself from 1975 until destroyed by the falling South Tower (#2 WTC) in 2001. The elements of the tower façade in the photo rest approximately on the site of #31 Courtlandt.
The new #4 World Trade sits on the #31 Courtland side of a pedestrian-only Courtland street now being built. Ironically, #31 Courtland was home to the agent for Charles Levitt Automatic Fire Escapes, a crank, rope and belt device for lowering people out of the windows of burning buildings, in 1871.
During the time of the Martin Brothers partnership, it appears that GR Martin also attempted to, rather dis-honestly, leverage the Martin name against the success of CF Martin & Co. in the guitar business as shown by the 1881 advertisement below for G Robert Martin, “maker of the celebrated Martin Guitar”. These “fake Martins” have confused many collectors in the 21st century. (Note the address)
During the 1872 through 1873 period, several other firms were established which would later factor into the history of the trumpet. These were Roth, a German string instrument craft-work, Thompson & Odell, a music publisher, and Carl Fischer, the large East coast music publisher and catalog/storefront powerhouse. At the tail end of this period, however, the industry also shrank with the bankruptcy of the Adolph Sax company.
In central Europe, the Austro-Hungarian empire and the Prussian federation had established unique identities as imperial offshoots of Rome. They devloped a unique aesthetic for brass instruments that reflected the national identity - bands and the ceremony they facilitated being an integral part of the public expression of that identity. These instruments were also notably unique in the copper content of the brass and the highly conical nature of the bore expansions.
Below is an 1870s tenor horn, or one might argue early euphonium, produced by Matthaus Bauer of Vienna which displays these traits. This horn remained in the region until it shipped from Poland to the United States in 2012. It still plays with a remarkablly rich and characteristic tone.
William Gronert moved to the United States in 1875 and promptly renewed his military career by enlisting in the United States Army. As a bandsman in the 17th infantry division, his unit was the first to arrive to relieve General Custer – one day too late. Henry Distin augmented his pub income by touring extensively, and in 1876 was able to relocate to New York. His stated purpose was to superintend at Martin’s facility on Courtlandt. His arrival coincided with John Henry Martin going to work at the new Conn & Dupont Company and moving his family to Elkhart. It is said he was the sixth employee.
In 1876, David Hall left his partnership and his former firm became simply Quinby Brothers. Hall appears to have been content to simply import and sell instruments for the remainder of his career.
Below is such an instrument, made by the French firm A. LeCompte sometime between 1876 and 1880.
Also in 1876, two important new firms grew the industry, which were the second Henri Distin company in New York and the Conn & Dupont company in Elkhart, established in the back of GAR Colonel Charles Gehrhart Conn’s grocery store.
Charles Gerhard Conn (born Jan. 29, 1844 in Phelps NY, died Jan. 5 1931 in Los Angeles) had served in the Union Army from May of 1861 through July of 1865, spending the last year as a battle-wounded prisoner. He also played cornet in a regimental band during his service. Leaving the military with the rank of Captain, Conn established a regiment of the American Legion, the First Indiana Artillery , and was designated Colonel of the same. He also served as commander of the local GAR chapter in Elkhart. He was addressed as Colonel for the remainder of his life.
Conn continued playing cornet after the war until some time in the early 1870s when, in one of his many bar fights, his mouth was injured and he improvised a cushioned rim mouthpiece. He was able to sell these and quickly began a small manufacturing enterprise. It was this business that expanded into instrument production in 1876 when he teamed with skilled instrument maker Eugene Dupont. The enterprise expanded into a vacant factory in Elkhart in 1877 and the partnership disolved in 1879 leaving the C.G. Conn Company.
In 1878, Henry Distin left the Martins and began building instruments in his name. This was a partnership with F.W. Busch at 79 East 4th Street in New York, often refered to by a range of street numbers on 13th, 4th, 5th, and Bowery. The instruments carried an Eagle logo and were labeled “Henry Distin Maker”. The partnership lasted only two years.
1879 saw the departure of HA Pollman from the Martin partnership, and the 31 Courtlandt Street firm became Martin Brothers. Pollman began stencilling brass down the road in the second block on the other side of Church where Courtlandt is named Maiden Lane.
An 1880s Pollman cornet is below.
Interestingly, the Martin and related companies had two ways of marking instruments. The first was to engrave the bell near the rim. The other was to affix a shield plate in the old Austro-Hungarian tradition.
The font seems to be the same regardless. However, it becomes more interesting when one considers that the same shields were in use by other, unrelated firms. Most likely, the engraving was all done by a Manhatten Jeweler, possibly GM Timbrell.
Also very interesting is that the shield used on the 1871 cornet, when Martin had a presence in Chicago, appears on a Julius Bauer stencil of what the National Music Museum describes as an 1870s Martin Brothers horn (which would be before Martin brothers, either MP&C or Martin & Co.). That same cornet is marked elsewhere “GM Timbrell”. Also worthy of some note is that the Later Elkhart Martin Band Instrument Company would use a shield logo that was a seeming combination of the two shown below.
Back in Boston. Esbach and Hartman were determined to establish the Boston firm as America’s premier band instrument maker. That same year, Esbach patented a unique rotary valve cornet with push-button linkages simulating piston valves. This was a departure from the firm’s commitment to rotary valves expressed in its 1869 catalog and the line of instruments below then offered.
1880 The Trumpet Matures
In 1880, the Boston 3-Star piston valve cornet was released. The unique push-button cornet, while a fine instrument, had not attracted the desired artist market. Esbach’s piston cornet on the other hand was a great success. Below is an 1883 with the rare A/Bb rotary quick change slide in place of multiple shanks.
This example suffers from several stuck slides, but is playable and relatively intact for a horn from 1883. The solder stain on the first valve slide denotes where a classic mushroom Boston pull nib such as can be seen in a later example is missing. This horn has mother of pearl inserts in the valve buttons which is not typical of early Boston horns and may be replacements. The bell engraving carries the original Boston Musical Instrument Manufactory name.
The other critical change in the field as Victorian society emerged as the most artistically oriented global culture since the time of Mozart, was the piston valve trumpet.
Cornets had developed rapidly once valve technology allowed for a chromatic instrument that was consistent in tone at every pitch, and largely facilitated the emergence of bands and band music in popular culture. Orchestral trumpeting however, remained the domain of the natural trumpet. Seeing their band colleagues blessed by an easily chromatic instrument, many trumpeters began sneaking cornets into orchestras and by 1880, manufacturers were experimenting with narrow bores and other methods to make the cornet produce a more trumpet like tone.
The key step forward in 1880 was the introduction of the Besson perinet valve trumpet, which inserted a cornet type valve assembly into a single loop wrap similar to the form of the natural trumpet, but at half the length for the same target octave, as valves made the need for close together partials moot.
The Besson design would change little in the decades that followed up through World War Two. Below is an example of a Besson trumpet built during the occupation of France by Germany. It is one of the last of this original design.
This design was the archetype of all modern valved trumpets. Below is the original catalog image.
Antoine Courtois’ son Denis died without hier and the family firm passed to Auguste Mille and ultimately to the Gaudet family that continue to influence and have maintained a stake in the firm, through mergers and deaquisitions, to the present day.
1880 saw the former partner and supervisor of the Martin Pollman & Co. shop at 31 Courtlandt Street in New York both moving forward in their enterprises.HA Pollman formally incorporated his August Polmman Company, and Henry Distin ended his business with Busch and turned to the Moses Slater Band Instruments firm to build instruments under the Distin name at 42 Courtlandt. Pollman’s company would last 25 years. Distin’s venture with Slater would last one.
When Distin began making instruments in partnership with F.W. Busch in 1878, the design of these instruments was distinctive, and that same design carried over to the instruments fabricated through the Slater company. Accounts, such as the fictionalized visit to Slater’s shop in the ITG Journal a few years back, relate that Slater was mainly an importer, and most of the fabrication in his shop involved woodwrk, not brass. GR Martin had supplied the brass side of their partnership until it disolved in 1874. The distinctiveness of the instruments precludes import, thus either Slater had added brass fabrication capability by 1881, or Distin provided it.
Below is an 1880/81 Distin, made at the Slater firm at 42 Courtlandt Street in New York. As received in late 2015, it had been modified by soldering a lead-pipe section from an old Buescher into the shank receiver and supporting the same with a 1950s brace to the bell crook. This suggests that the horn was a good enough player to be worth modifying in the 1950s or 60s. Unfortunately, the valves now bind, the spit key and one bottom cap were also lost and the valve slides were replaced with Holtons by 2015. Below the Distin is a slightly later Slater label.
In 1881, the Gautrot company purchased the Triebert company which had been founded in 1810 and was one of the oldest firms in the musical instrument business at the time. Two years later, through marriage, the firm became known as Couesnon & Cie. Also in 1881, William Gronert hung up his uniform and began a 30 year career as General Manager of CG Conn’s factories. He would work there during both of the catastrophic fires and saw all three Conn plants during his tenure.
Meanwhile, in 1882, Henri Distin relocated to Pennsylvania, working for JW Pepper with his son William, and then for a year in the partnership Distin & Pincus before incoprporating in 1885 as Henri Distin Manufacturing.
In 1883, James Warren York established two companies, what became York and Son and the partnership of Smith & York. York had apprenticed with Henry Esbach and Louis Hartman at Boston as they came to realize that their goal of becoming a premium maker could only be met using piston valves – which it was in 1884 when a young Herbert L. Clark opted to buy a three star as his first horn after turning in the Canadian government’s Courtois on which he had learned and been recognized as a rising star.
David Hall had retired from Hall and Quinby in 1876 leaving just Quinby Brothers. The firm once again failed and in 1884, Thompson & Odell purchased it, renaming it the Standard Band Instrument Company, with the intent of offering a more vertically integrated product portfolio to their distribution network. The next year, as Smith and York was dissolved, third generation clarinetist Henri Selmer (1858 – 1940) opened a small shop in Paris and began selling woodwinds and other products.
In 1885, following the closure of Martin Brothers, both John & Robert Martin went to work as tradesmen at the Michigan Musical Manufacturing Company in Detroit. John returned to Elkhart and employement at CG Conn the following year while Robert remained with what became the Detroit Cornet Company until 1887.
York established a new partnership in 1886 with Frank Holton, a star trombone player with the Sousa Band. Holton left the arrangement after one year, but York continued it on the books into 1897.
The 1880 design of the Boston three star cornets bears a striking resemblance to that of the Conn Wonder released in 1886. Many others would follow suit.
The Conn design includes unique pins for adjusting the tuning slide with the left hand while playing. Built for 20 years, this was one of Conn’s most successful instruments and helped Conn sales to eclipse those of the firm from whose product they took the inspiration for the horn. Conn replaced this model in 1906 while Boston chose not to replace the three-star, building it until sometime in the nineteen-teens. The graphic below is from the 1890 Conn Wonder catalog.
A 1902 version of this 1886 designed horn in its original coffin case is at right below.
Starting with the 1886 introduction of the Conn Wonder Solo Cornet, a second “Vocal” version was offered as well. This horn included a second shorter leadpipe for pitching the horn in C. It played as a normal Bb/A horn with one and became a C cornet with the other. This damaged example was also made in 1902 and is unchanged from the 1886 original.
Vocal cornets such as the Conn above were intended for use in church settings, where the hymnals were printed in C. The C horn prevented the need for cornet players to learn how to transpose, a more difficult skill than playing the horn itself was considered to be at the time. Vocal cornets also found use in casual settings where the music available was piano sheet music, and were even occasionally clandestinely used in orchestral settings – chiefly opera and theater groups. This example is unplayable due to the lack of it’s wishbone spit key. The first Conn factory prior to its destruction by fire on Conn’s birthday in 1883 is also shown above.
One noticeable detail of the Conn design, and the Distin and Pollman horns shown just before these, is that the final loop of the lead into the valves dips down, forming a moisture trap and requiring the second side of the wishbone water key. This is a Courtois inspired feature, and one on Conn instruments which is less severe than the “P-trap” design of Courtois cornets. The Boston design, Courtois being the maker they sought to best, eliminated the dip all together, but retained the wishbone key.
The Courtois design is characteristic of three of their models released around 1880 to honor the leading cornetists of the day. These were the Arbuckle, Levy and Arban models.
The Arbuckle model is named for Matthew Arbuckle, (b.1828 Lochside Scotland d.1883), who entered the British Army as a musician at age 13 in the band of the 26th Cameriorians. He served in both the Opium war of 1839-42 and the Sikh war of 1845-6. While still in the service, he studied with Herman Koenig in London before deserting in 1853 and moving to Canada, which being a Royal colony until 1867 was fairly risky.
Somehow, Arbuckle was able to become bagpiper and drum major of the Royal Scottish Regimental Band and cornet soloist. He then moved to New York in 1857, and joined the Troy Band. Shortly thereafter, he was recruited to move to Worchester and join Isaac Fiske's Cornet band, again serving as drum major and soloist. In 1860, he was recruited away by Patrick Gillmore, who was promptly sued by Fiske. Arbuckle remained with the Gillmore band, playing many national and international events, until 1880 when he became director of the Ninth Regimental Band of New York.
Below is a circa 1880 Courtois Arbuckle cornet which was, per the lettered masking tape on the wooden case, used by Gordon Alden Bass at Camden High School in New York, from which he graduated in 1950 and entered the US Army, serving in the Korean conflict. Mr. Bass’ cornet was sold at an estate sale at around the beginning of 2016. Mr. Bass passed away at age 80 on February 16th of the same year, two days after the EBay auction of this horn closed.
The Levy model is named for Jules Levy (1839-1903) who toured Russia for 20 months in 1871-1873 at the invitation of Grand Duke Alexey (1850-1908) who had heard him with Fiske's Band. The crown Prince was an amateur cornetist and Levy was given unprecedented access to the Royal household. Levy composed the first version of the solo made famous by Herbert L. Clarke's rendition, The Grand Russian Fantasy", during this trip.
He was then hired by Gilmore's band after moving to New York in 1875 and made the first test recordings of a musician for the Edison phonograph company in 1878. He made many early recordings including 23 for Victor Talking Machine and 15 for Columbia Records. In 1883, he received a diamond studded gold Conn cornet and was one of the highest paid musical celebrities of all time in constant-dollar terms, earning over $10,000 per year during the Victorian era.
The Arban model is named for Jean-Baptiste Arban (1625-1889), who was appointed soloist to the band that retrieved the body of Napoleon from St. Helene in 1840 at the age of only 15. A successful touring soloist, he ultimately became a professor at the Paris Conservatory in 1869 and wrote the generally accepted standard method for cornet and trumpet instruction still in use today at that time, compiling it from exercises developed for his students. The method has become the standard for low brass as well with the edition produced by famed Euphonium soloist and right-hand to Arthur Pryor, Simone Mantia.
Arban was the junior of three brothers. The eldest, Louis, was a balloonist who met an early end during a flight in Madrid. The middle brother, Charles, owned and ran both a fireworks factory and a casino in Lyons. Arban was one of the most famous soloists of his day, but a conservative with his money. He was in the process of actually finally spending some to build two villas on the Mediterranean at Monte Carlo when he died of a sudden illness, leaving his only daughter quite rich.
The years 1887-88 saw firms established that would be major factors in the Asian dominance of band instruments over a century later. In 1887, Torakusu Yamaha (above) had begun with a reed organ, and spent 3 years learning to build one that played in tune – leading to the symbol of the conglomerate: three tuning forks. In Boston, William S. Haynes flutes was established in 1888.
The year 1887 also marked the origins of a great Twentieth Century brass band tradition often associated with Christmas. That year, the Salvation Army began using a brass band on street corners to attract attention to their cause. At the time, it was not holiday fund raising, but all year long recruiitment of membership.
The Salvation Army was a vertically integrated operation and included a many support groups for the primary religious activities including a logistics and supply manufacturing concern known as Salvationist Publishing and Supplies. In 1889, a brass instrument workshop was set up under the publishing and supply operation to make instruments for the rapidly growing number of Salvation Army bands bands such as this Bandmaster cornet below.
Above it was noted that Herbert L. Clarke (at left) had learned to play on a government owned cornet before purchasing a Boston like those shown below. He obtained that through the Toronto para-military band in which he began to play. This was prior to the advent of music in the schools and there were four options for an aspiring musician to learn his or her instrument.
The first option for learning to play was to apprentice to a master, as was common with string instruments. Another was to learn in a band as Clarke did, with the bands often supplying the pricey professional grade instruments. Of course, there was always a chance of becoming self-taught, and the catalog houses made a great many sales of inferior instruments to such minded folks. The challenges of learning without instruction must have been very frustrating and was no-doubt complicated by the poor quality of many mail-order instruments. This market did, however, create a correlary one for instruction method books by leading artists such as Clarke.
Finally, for centuries, the church was a source of musical instruction and access to instruments. The Salvation Army was just following in that ancient tradition when it began making brass instruments to supply the bands it was recruiting and training.
Below is a 1953 Salvation Army Triumphonic baritone. It is remarkably little changed from the instruments built by Salvationist Publishing at the end of the Nineteenth century. Over an 80 year period before being shut down, the operation would only produce about 40,000 instruments.
In 1886, Gustav Bohland died, shortly after passing control of Bohland & Fuchs to his partner Martin Fuchs. Martin’s son Johann took charge of the company, which remained in the family through grandson Herman, and finally Karl Fuchs, until its disolution during the purge of all ethnic Germans from Bohemia and the Sudentenland, and the nationalization of the industry into the Amati cooperative. At its peak, achieved largely through American market stencil sales, B&F employed as many as 500 in 1925.
Stenciling refers to engraving or stamping one’s own name or tradename, often a ficticious name or maker intended to sound prestigious, on an instrument built by an anonymous supplier – many of which were located in Bohemia. The 1880s saw a sharp rise in catalog sales of such instruments. C. Bruno and Sons had been joined by Lyon & Healy,JW Pepper, Carl Fischer, and many department stores. As most of these companies did not manufacture instruments, they, and a vast number of local and regional music stores, turned to the practice of stenciling. The Imperial label for instance, which claimed manufacture in England, was used to stencil cornets by Bohland & Fuchs at this point in time. Below is an example of one such Imperial cornet, though in terrible condition.
This horn sold through a variety of retail outlets. Department stores, such as Sears and Roebuck, sought to generate customer brand loyalty, so they created stencil brands that would be percieved as prestigious European manufacturers. The Sears stencil brand was Marceau Paris.
As can be seen in the catalog from the mid 1880s, Sears sold band supplies as well as instruments. On the several pages devoted to Marceau, the brand was applied to cornets in Eb as well as the Bb and C flagship models shown. The line included alto cornets, alto horns, french horns, baritones, trombones, valve trombones and tubas. Sears was perhaps seeking to usurp some credibility from the firm of Pierre Marceau, a French maker of woodwinds with a solid reputation. The Marceau stencil brass, however, were not top line professional instruments. They were a good product for the musical hobbyist of the day, but not for any serious performer.
Below is an example of one of the two cornets shown in the Sears catalog previously. The price listed for this version in nickel is $7.75 though the prce for raw brass, $6.85, is much more prominently printed.
The CG Conn company expanded in 1887 through the acquisition of the Isaac Fiske firm in Worcester. The factory was portrayed in 1889 advertising with the fanciful image below.
In 1889, one other very significant advancement was made: Boston’s Henry Esbach patented a system of nesting a tuning slide in a second set of sleeve tubes that were joined in an “H” by a brace and fit as slide legs into the main sleeves. This allowed for nesting the tuning function inside of the B flat to A function, which could be controlled by either a stop rod or a retention ring that would catch on the edge of a recess in the slide leg when extended fully. The Esbach patent slide concept would be used by many, many makers on trumpets from 1900 until the A trumpet became extinct in the late 1930s.
Once Henry Distin had incorporated his own concern, it is unclear at what point he stopped making horns for J.W. Pepper to stencil. Brua Keefer may have continued as a supplier to Pepper for some time. Pepper, however, did turn to many other suppliers, though they may have decided to keep, or at least leak to their supplier, some of Henry Distin’s designs.
Below is an Eb cornet from the 1890s, or perhaps late 1880s, sold by J.W. Pepper. The design resembles Distin Eb cornets and perhaps inspired the modern Eb trumpet design that similarly dips the leadpipe. It resembles Distin rather closely, but the trim details are all different from what one finds on a Distin or Keefer horn.
In 1890, The Besson Company changed its name to Fontaine-Besson reflecting the passage of ownership via marriage to the Fontaine family. In 1894, the English half of the firm was sold splitting them into two truly separate concerns. When the firm had first split apart in 1858, A.G. Besson continued the same sequence of serial numbers the firm had used in France on the instruments built in England. As a result, the French firm had begun a new sequence and over time the two operations had grown apart. The influence of differennt craftsmen manifested in differences in the way the same designs were produced and had eventually led to unique English and French designs. Henry Distin died, but his firm continued.
In central Europe, in 1892 the workshop of Joseph Lidl was established at Brno in the future Czech republic. Lidl built brass instruments in the Germanic Austro-hungarian imperial tradition although being a member of the Slavic community in the region. This region had traditionally been a mix of germanic and slavic peoples who spoke different languages and had different cultures. The craft of making musical instruments from the time of the rise of Vienna as the musical capital of the world, until the establishment of a communist Czechoslovakia through the Yalta accords, provided a temporary cultural bridge. The instrument making economy in Bohemia in particular expanded dramatically at this time.
In Asia, in 1893 Yanigasawa woodwinds began. While not a brass maker, Yanigasawa would be a key component, but not absorbed division of Steinway Musical Instrument’s Conn-Selmer division in the Twentyfirst Century. This model would serve to continue the partnership with Henri Selmer Paris and, most importantly for trumpets, maintain Vincent Bach as a separate entity when all other band instrument companies were consolidated into a single operation at Eastlake Ohio in 2008.
The 1890s also saw a young craftsman decide to strike out on his own with the establishment of a small music store in Cleveland. It was an operation just like the one he had worked for also located in Cleveland. That craftsman was Henderson N. White (at left below).
Henderson White (7/16/1873 – 3/26/1940), a carpenter’s son from Romeo Michigan, left school at age 12 and apprenticed to a builder named Galloway following the death of his father, George M. White (1839-79) to help support his mother Eliza. Apparently not partial to outdoor work or the heavy labor, by age 14, he obtained work in the Detroit music store of Orange Fame “Cub” Berdan at 72 Woodward, learning instrument repair and engraving. At 16, he moved to Cleveland, and went to work for H.E. McMillin in a store of the type he would open himself in 1894. McMillin sold stencil brass instruments attributed to “Sartel, Paris” or “Geo Barings, London, Eng.” and further reading “HE McMILLIN Sole Factor Cleveland O.” In his new store on Woodland Ave., White could build a few trombones at his bench starting in 1896 after moving to 1870 East Ninth Street, but had to employ the same methods, even buy from the same supplier as McMillin, for the rest.
White was the repairman in McMillin’s music store and was almost certainly the person who marked the bells of stencil instruments sold there. It is not surprising that the markings of White’s early stencil products appear to be made with the same tools. Working in the McMillin store, White was able to examine the instruments he worked on in great detail and appears to have been thinking about how to improve upon them. To design and build his own instruments, as he did by the end of the decade, White had to teach himself the craft. Once he started in business for himself, it is doubtful that there would have been much time for such learning. One may therefore assume that his time with McMillin, and perhaps even earlier with Berden, served as the classroom in which he learned brass instrument making and design.
Below is a rare stencil by H.N. White with attribution to “M. Bauer” – either a play on Matthaus Bauer (Wien) or Julius Bauer, whose Chicago piano company and store had been stenciling the work of his Bohemian cousins since the 1870s. Like McMillin, it cites a maker. All other HN White stencils use trade names, suggesting that this was his first effort in 1894 immediately after opening the shop and still copying his former employer’s methods. The series of at least 11 different models by this maker was stenciled by Sears under the Marceau name, Lyon & Healy under the Henry Gunkel Paris name, Vega, Carl Fischer, McMillin under the Baring name, White and others. Thanks to Kenton Scott’s collection of data on these at www.horn-u-copia.net and discovery of a Marceau with the B+F marking, we know that these horns were built by Bohland & Fuchs in Graslitz Bohemia.
A rare unstenciled example of the same model is below. It is extensively engraved, but the workmanship is noticeably amateurish. The motifs are not consistent with any of the makes thus far seen to have stenciled this horn and it is presumed to be an engraving apprentice’s practice piece. Possibly deemed not good enough to put the company name on, it retains its blank stencil shield in the middle of the bell.
Another White stencil product was sold under the name Union. These were made by the same manufacturer as the Bauer and the example above. The two above were denoted by the 7 on the second valve casing, likely a model or pattern number. The Union name applied to a 9.
Below is a Union cornet. From the simple bell marking, this likely dates from the late 1890s.
Like McMillin, White also sold other stencils of basic 19th century short cornets under the Silver Star name and also applied Silver Star, Union, and Imperial to other brass instruments that were likewise produced by low cost suppliers. Below is a Bohland & Fuchs built, ca. 1895, H.N. White “Silver Star”.
A second generation Silver Star cornet circa 1900 is below.
Collector and Alaskan environmental lawyer Tom Meacham obtained King cornet #619, which must date from the late 1890s. This horn shows that White was the creator of his first line of cornets and was in production before hiring York apprentice Foster Reynolds in 1904. This runs contrary to the common belief that Reynolds had engineered these cornets and that production began in 1905 - but it would be hard to refute unless production quantities dropped severely with the new plant in 1909. White increased his footprint in the Erie building twice before the move to 5225 Superior.
In Elkhart, the emerging home of the band instrument industry, Ferdinand August (Gus) Buescher had been one of the first employees of Conn-Selmer. He started there as a craftsman in 1876 when he was only 15, the serial numbers were only 3 digits, and the company was still known as Conn & DuPont. In 1894 he set up a brass works making instruments and other items with John L. Collins under the name Buescher Manufacturing.
In 1896, as related later in an interview, Frank Holton decided to transition from a playing career to a business one. Frank Holton was born September 28 1857 to a farm family in Allegan County Michigan. His Mother, Mary Clark Holton, played organ and his father, Otis L. Holton, was in the choir. He started on cornet before taking up the trombone. His playing experience ranged from circus bands to ultimately being part of the famed Sousa Band under Marine Bandmaster and Composer John Phillip Sousa along with such low-brass notables as Simone Mantia and Arthur Pryor.
Holton recounted that it was around 1896, when he was playing in Ellis Brooks Second Regimental Band in Chicago that he began trying to sell by mail his own unique formulation of trombone slide oil developed in 1895. As of 1898, the business was still in the red. Not willing to give in to the popular view that musicians could not succeed in business, and feeling that at age 42 he had peaked in his playing career after far exceeding his dreams in that field, he determined to expand rather than give up. Holton rented a second floor retail space on the Northeast corner of Clarke and Madison streets in Chicago. Starting with a simple counter, $5.00 desk and chairs, he began to sell not just supplies such as his slide oil, but used band instruments.
The start was a slow one and Holton continued playing to pay the bills, but gradually the business took hold. Holton was no stranger to working a full time job and playing professionally. He had been a blacksmith building carriages for Cahill & House in Kalamazoo in the 1880s when his career began. Mrs. Holton taught music to help cover the cost of their $10.00/month flat.
In 1898, C.G. Conn shut down the Worcester facility consolidating all production of Conn “Wonder” instruments in the massive Elkhart facility, which by that time filled an entire city block from sidewalk to sidewalk on all sides. That same year, the first Sousaphone was developed by Conn for the Sousa Band.
In 1897 White moved production to space in the Erie building in downtown Cleveland. The centerpiece of White’s first family of Besson-style derived horns was the “Famous” short cornet, built in medium bore, with high/low pitch slides and A/Bb quick-change slide at the 1867 Besson location. The “Long Model”, however, was the first White design and marked a turning point in cornet design. Alaskan lawyer Tom Meacham obtained Long Cornet #615, confirming the early start to King cornet production.
This 1912 example of the Short Model (King 202) is shown in its original coffin case below. It is in mint unrestored condition. This horn was displayed as part of the University of Michigan’s Stearn’s Collection exhibit “Evolution of the Modern Trumpet” from 2012 to 2014 for the centennial season at Hill Auditorium in Ann Arbor. Note that the wrap is essentially that of a Besson just larger, heavier and more conical. The coffin case is typical of those used by many manufacturers and resellers of the day. These cases have cross-bars to retain the additional slides, cleaning rod, lyre and two mouthpieces and avoid the need for a leather hold-down strap by means of a spring-loaded grip upon which the horn is resting.
Below are a 1914 Long Model and below that a seemingly identical small bore 1912 Improved Model cornet both with LP slides. The Long Model was a concept pursued by many makers, but it was H.N. White’s name that was generically applied to all future “long cornet”s. A serial #3719 sold on Ebay on March 5th 2013, while a #28516 sold on November 11th 2014 indicating the model spanned two decades or more.
The third member of White’s first collection of cornets produced from 1905 to WWI was the King Large Bore Model. This #277 cornet is a high-end horn with gold wash trim and vermeil bell. This 1907 horn was built at the Erie Building prior to the move to the new factory at 5225 Superior Street in 1909 and has the lion’s head engraving on second valve that is found on serial numbers below 9000 - which was passed sometime in year one at the Superior Street plant. The original custom valve caps have an unusual vertical knurl and the upper shoulder was machined too deep leaving paper-thin brass which had split on second valve. A stock sliver-plate set from a scrap King Junior (not shown) has been donated to this horn enabling it to be played. The low pitch slide is present (and in need of being freed) but the horn is without case or any other original pieces.
Below, is a 1910 photograph of the Genoa Ohio town band. Of the 5 cornets, 4 of them are Kings as noted. H.N. White, Holton and Conn all geared their marketing toward bands. If a manufacturer could win over a band leader or town council, they could sell not only enough instruments for a band, but probably several to individuals as well. White’s agent was clearly effective in Genoa which is about 45 minutes West and slightly South of Cleveland.
The last member of the original family of King cornets is the “Combination” or “Vocal” cornet which was a slight variation on the “Famous” medium bore short cornet. The slides were shortened with an elongated A/Bb set provided also. A crook then would replace the lead pipe and HP/LP slide to repitch the horn in C for orchestral or choral work.
Below is a 1906 King Combination configured in C.
The catalog listed four configurations: C, B-flat, A and “Low Pitch”. The valve slide sets supported either C or B-flat in high pitch all the way in. For A, the quick-change was pulled, and for Low Pitch, there is a longer B-flat slide. The valve slides had to be pulled for both A and Low Pitch, Low pitch A may be possible, but was not listed. Below is the same King, #5534 Configured in Low Pitch (B flat).
And then below in in high pitch B flat.
Finally, below is the same horn configured in A and a close-up of the bell.
In 1898, Francois Millereaux died but the Raoux-Millereau company continued forward under the leadership of his son in law Hermann Schoenaers and began moving toward the design of what would one day become the Selmer-Paris trumpets. By 1910, Schoenaers moved the firm from the longtime 66 Rue Angouleme Paris location to its final address at 15 Rue Gambey Paris and started a new serial number sequence.
Another interesting horn that tried to be on the technological cutting edge at the end of the 19th Century was the “Duplex” short cornet by Lyon and Healy. Built larger than the average short cornet of the 1800s, it mirrored the trend at H.N. White to build bigger format designs.t set this horn apart, well ahead of the patented C.G. Conn “Perfected Wonder” was the linkage to a Bb/A Quick-change valve that adjusted all the slide positions. In the case of the Duplex, the valve was a linked pair of Stotzel-style pistons, but the idea of the linkage to that valve adjusting the slides automatically for the key begins here. Below is a 1909 example, the last year for Lyon & Healy’s “Own Make”, which began in 1896. The horn was made in High Pitch with a Low Pitch slide set which is shown installed.
Bugles for the Military
The 1890s saw considerable transformation of both cornets and trumpets, but was also a period of change for the ancient ancestor of the trumpet, the bugle – often called a field trumpet. These had continued in use as the primary means of battlefield command and control from the time of pre-history.
The US Civil war had seen a variety of bugles used in the field and in camp. These were mostly of European manufacture and intermingled with American attempts at replication which often were imprecise. The result was a variety of keys in which bugle calls were being sounded which was mildly confusing to the troops, but took a toll on the bugler forced to suddenly switch to a different key.
In 1892, the Army adopted military specification number 325 for a field trumpet. This design became known as the US Regulation Bugle. These bugles were intended primarily for ceremonial, camp and drill use. The design is one of a dual loop wrap with a long tuning slide in the shorter loop which can pull to repitch the bugle in F.
Below is an example of the US regulation design in the form of a 1925 King official Boy Scout bugle. These King models by HN White competed with bugles from Conn, York, and Rexcraft. They were the most expensive option costing over six dollars in 1925. White only sold these for a few years.
This bugle was originally given to Birmingham music & trumpet teacher Arnold Berndt (1902-1990) by one of his students for the purpose of making a lamp. King sold bugles throughout the depression, but official BSA ones for only a few years. A Boy’s Life magazine ad from the period is shown later in the 1920s section. After decades as a studio decoration and 16 years atop a fireplace mantle, this horn was put into service on Memorial Day 2010 to sound taps in the Village of Beverly Hills (below). It was subsequently displayed in the Birmingham Historical Museum in 2014 as part of the year long Music in Birmingham exhibition.
The US Regulation wrap has been applied to a great many bugles, some of which were precise replicas of the design and many of which were not. In addition to sounding camp calls, G bugles were particularly useful for ceremonial functions where the bugler might not be the strongest player. The lower key of G or even F reduced the strength required to sound the notes of common calls. Below is a bugle pitched lower still in Eb by an unknown, presumably European maker. It was found in an attic in Germany and is made of the cupro-nickel alloy known as German Silver. It could have been fashioned as late as the 1950s for communist pioneer scout ceremonial use, but is not marked. Likewise, bugles of all types were used extensively by the Hitler Youth movement of the Nazi period, but HJ ceremonial items were virtually always elaborately decorated. In all probability, this bugle predates those movements and its true purpose may never be known. It’s DNA however is that of a model 1892 Regulation Bugle.
While a very good bugle, the model 1892 was not practical for actual field use. It’s size made it difficult to carry in combination with all of the gear required by modern soldiers. Additionally, it’s size and tuning slide made it vulnerable to disabling damage in the field. Finally, the G or F pitching resulted in calls that did not carry as well as a higher pitched bugle would. These factors all led to the adoption of a second bugle standard, military specification number 1152 for a signal trumpet in B flat in 1894.
Below is an example of the 1894 design, what came to be called a trench bugle as it saw extensive service in World War One, for which this particular example was made in 1918 by JW York & Sons.
The design of the trench bugle was one of the smallest and most compact bugles ever built. Field trumpets used during the Napoleonic wars had been small and lightweight, but traded a minimal bell flare and lesser projection for the size. Even then, they tended to be slightly larger than the model 1894.
In Europe, similar bugles were made for the military at this time. Below is an Austro-Hungarian military bugle that was presumably a war trophy from the First World War. It was located in Australia in an estate sale in 2012. This is made by the prolific Bohemian firm of Bohland & Fuchs.
In 1899, the Boston firm suffered a major set-back that turned out to be a wind-fall. The factory was located on the fourth floor of an older six story block that caught fire on July sixth. There were abundant supplies of machining oil and naphtha for cleaning throughout the building and the top two floors were filled with tobacco. The resulting fire destroyed both facilities and stock, but the firm was over-insured.
The Twentieth Century Dawns
By 1900, Holton employed an office boy and a repairman/instrument builder and began experimenting with trombone design. In that year the revenues finally allowed him to rent a larger space.
Holton recalled that it was one of these early summers that a man named George Renner walked into his then third floor store looking for a particular instrument. The Holton and Renner families struck up a strong friendship that was what first prompted Holton to visit Elkhorn Wisconsin, where the Renners lived. Holton’s decision to build his final factory there began with that chance encounter.
In 1901, the craftsman Holton employed to repair customer and used instruments began to make trombones, cornets and other instruments with a mix of procured and fabricated parts in his spare time. This was the beginning of the band instrument manufacturing concern.
An example of these first Holton instruments is below with the low pitch slide installed. This is serial number 318 and was likely built in 1902 in Holton’s walk-up instrument store. The leadpipe brace on first valve appears to be the only replacement part on this example. The valve casings used appear on all Holton trumpets and cornets until 1906 when the new factory was up and operational. At that time, similar casings appear with different bottom caps, a less rounded upper barrel and an upper port on third valve that is moved down and around front relative to these likely supplier-built valves.
At Conn’s Elkhart plant, a new cornet of a much different design appeared in 1901 which was dubbed the “Perfected Conn-queror” cornet. The unique wrap of this cornet, which used a full length reversed construction leadpipe with no need for tuning shanks, was set-up such that the first slide in the wrap is, as is traditional today, the tuning slide. They would not follow this convention on some other cornets shortly after. For the quick-change between A and B-flat however, rather than a stop mechanism for the tuning slide, the Connqueror used a tuning slide positioned mid-valve block on the back side.
A 1908 example of the Connqueror is below.
The unique A/Bb slide, positioned between second and third valve in the wrap, can be seen in the reverse side of the same here below.
In Cleveland, H.E. McMillin began to stencil horns under the Crown name which he launched around 1901 - the date of the earliest testimonial in the 1904 catalog. That catalog features a “Type A” cornet, which is a Conn Wonder clone and lacks the distinctive Crown Brand rope accented ferrules found on several other models.
Below is a McMillin Crown cornet in what at the time was becoming the popular form – an enlargement of the classic Besson wrap, the earliest examples of which were designed and produced by HN White around 1900.
In 1904, Denis Noblet, great grandson of the founder and lacking an hier, sold the Noblet firm to Georges Leblanc. In Elkhart, the sons of John Henry Martin, who had worked with him at Conn until he was forced by a stroke to retire in 1902, established the JH Martin Band Instrument Company. In 1905 it was reorganized into the Martin Band Instrument Company. Also in 1904, James W. Sistek founded Sistek Music, a Cleveland store selling new and used band instruments.
The McMillin horn shown on the prior page also has elements in common with the cornets built by the Frank Holton Company. Holton’s first Conn Wonder/Boston Three-Star inspired cornet had a single radius tuning slide just like the McMillin. With the second generation, as in this Low Pitch Holton New Proportion short cornet below. This horn was built around the time that the new factory opened in the fall of 1905. One of its pistons is damaged and sticks, however the horn is otherwise in good condition.
Below is a High Pitch 1907 version of the same Holton New Proportion short cornet model which shows the changes to trim that occurred over the first few years in Holton’s Chicago factory. This gold-plate example has seen extensive and hard use over the years and the receiver reinforcing ring has shifted over, a crack in the bell stem has been addressed, but the valve compression is tighter than some modern horns. It plays quite well.
The design appears to have been an industry trend. Below is 1912 King short model example in the collection with the low pitch slide installed. Once again, it is a modified Besson wrap strikingly similar to the previously shown examples. As noted previously, HN White began building four cornets using this wrap before 1900. These continued in production through the first decade of the century and in the case of at least one model, well into the teens.
Around 1900, Carl Fischer bought-out the publishing portion of Thompson & Odell leaving just the financially unstable Standard Band Instrument Company. Standard began looking for partners and ways to reduce operating costs, but to no avail. The company filed for bankruptcy reorganization in 1905. The Vega Banjo Company, which had been investing in Standard for some time, purchased control of the company, but did not absorb it as a division until 1909.
The Boston company at this time was still building the same three-star cornet unchanged from 1880. It would stand by this design until the last of the founders’ families was out of the firm in 1914. However, Cundy-Bettony Publishing began investing in the company either in 1902 or 1904 and in 1902 the name was changed to the Boston Musical Instrument Company. The 1908 three-star below bears this name.
The founding of the Gibson Mandolin-guitar Company in 1902 is also worthy of note in this time frame. While Gibson never expanded into band instruments other than the purchase of the Slingerland Drum Company a century later, it was the guitar that eventually replaced the cornet and trumpet as the star instrument of popular musical ensembles and Gibson was arguably the leading name in guitars at that time.
While the Allen company shut down some time prior to his death in 1905, the middle of the decade was generally a time of expansion in the band instrument business. The bank panic of 1903 caused the Buescher Manufacturing Company to become insolvent. However, it was immediately reorganized in 1904 as the Buescher Band Instrument Company. Joseph Lidl expanded his operations in Moravia and the Leblanc firm passed to George Leblanc (who would one day look to expand into brass) all in the same year.
Just before its twentieth anniversary, the firm of JW York and Son expanded its cornet lineup. From the beginning, the firm had sold two very successful models, the Weldon Model and the York Monarch. In 1903 a new model, very much in keeping with the popular wrap used by White and so many other discussed previously, the York Professional Model, was introduced.
Below is a 1904 York Professional with the premium Vermeil finish on the bell.
The Professional was the first York cornet to have a fixed lead pipe. The others would be altered to the fixed pipe within a few years. This particular horn has a notable oddity to its markings. The serial number has been modified. It appears that the valves were originally marked just “102”. The “9” has then been added and was struck with a different force and at a much different alignment than the other characters. The York cornet #301 has similar valve porting offering the possibility that these valves were cannibalized from a prototype, very old scrap (ca. 1888), a factory demo horn that had become damaged or otherwise useless, or a trade-in.
Another new York product was the Al-Tru cornet. This model was very similar in design to the Conn Connqueror in that it had the leadpipe enter at second valve, connected second to third by means of a front tuning slide, and then jumped over second porting back to first valve. Below is a 1903 example of the Alt-Tru.
From 1901 to 1903, the firm of Newell, Millard & Thomas had operated in Grand Rapids. In 1903, it was broken-up by the purchase of 50% equity in the firm by Detroit music store owner Willard Bryant. Bryant partnered with George Newell, though he never worked in Detroit, and Newell Thomas became chief repairman for the Detroit firm and remained as such for the music store after the firm shut down around 1913. The other partner in the firm, Frank Millard, also came to the Detroit area and around 1904 or perhaps 1905, began production under his own name. The Millard firm appears to have operated primarily from 1905 to 1921. However, it is possible that production of bugles continued into the 1930s.MIllards headstone was engraved with a Regulation bugle and “F. Millard Co. Home of the Bugle”. There were notable similarities between Millard cornets and those of Bryant’s Rex brand. The number 7 cornet below, while having significant differences shares the unique return leg placement in common with a Rex model that is likewise considered to be quite unusual in design.
Millard was one of the first unionized shops, and the union mark was prominently placed on the valve casings.
The Millard bell art is unique, though fairly simple for its day.
Willard Bryant, the new partner of Millard’s former partner, had opened his first Detroit music store at #36 Gratiot, just off Woodward in the center of the city near Campus Martius (“Military Park”) in 1893. He was both retailer and publisher of sheet music, and the store can be seen circa 1900 below.
The piano player above is believed to be Harry Guy, one of the artists Bryant published.
Willard Bryant had been born in Logansport Indiana on November 28, 1862 to John Bryant and Mary L. Smith. He attended school in Hillsdale Michigan, suggesting a move by the family early in his life. He was married to Minnie J. Slade in 1884 and had one daughter, Martha Louise. A professional cornetist at age 20, he became an instructor at the Detroit Conservatory of Music in 1891. He stopped teaching in 1895 to focus on his business. He built a family home at 2924 E. Grand Boulevard, which still stands.
In 1903, he moved to #218 Woodward Avenue and shortly there-after began the manufacture of brass instruments with Newell under the Rex brandname. The business was capitalized with an astounding $75,000 according to records published by the Michigan Department of Labor in 1914. The initial capitalization of the Cleveland Band Instrument Company in 1919 was only $25,000. While George Newell never worked there, his brother Charles did for many years.
The 1914 edition of R.L. Polk’s Detroit City Directory lists Bryant-Newell Co. at #61 East Fort Street, with Willard Bryant as President and Newell Thomas, formerly of Newell, Millard and Thomas, as Vice-President. This separate address on Fort was a three story manufacturing facility that was previously home to bed spring manufacturer A.A. Maynard in 1887 and then starting in 1904 Edmonds and Jones, makers of automobile headlamps.
Sometime after 1904, E & J appears to have ceased operations and Bryant-Newell must have taken on this space just behind the Detroit Club (above) for instrument manufacture. However, in 1914, a press release appeared in several publications including the Automobile Trade Journal and , The Accessory and Garage Journal stating that a “factory” at 61 Fort Street was obtained by Stocker Manufacturing Co. to manufacture a double-action single tube pump designed by Robert Galen, Secretary of the company. It appears that Bryant-Newell ceased operations at this manufacturing facility at that time. The modest range of at best 3000 serial numbers may indicate that it engaged in fabrication for only 10 years.
Below is a badly damaged Bryant-Newell Rex cornet from around 1907. The second valve stem is short and the cap and button are missing, but the unique top-washer retained extension-spring design used on these instruments can be clearly seen in the photograph.
Another small maker established his company in 1904 to build horns utilizing some truly unique ideas. This was the Meredith Band Instrument Company of Marion Ohio. Z. Albert Meredith was born in Waring Ohio on December 14th, 1869. He began playing cornet at 17, fairly late for a youth of his time, and trained to be a jeweler. He married Leah Wise in Union Kentucky in 1903 and then returned to Ohio to establish his company July 29th with $10,000 capital. The partners were: Z. Meredith, L. B. McNeal, J. F. McNeal, G. W. Baker & William Dowler.
Meredith patented his unique concepts for preserving the diameter of the airway through piston valves. As the general Perinet approach required some intrusion into the ports as commonly understood then, Meredith innovated designs that utilized additional ports and plumbing to avoid this issue. By 1909 he had secured his second key patent, but lost his wife to divorce. He remarried to Grace in 1914, the year in which the Meredith OpenTone cornet below was manufactured.
When Meredith’s daughter was 2 years old in 1918, he dissolved the company to separate from his partners. Reincorporated in 1919, the company remained at 224 State Street in Marion until 1925 when chronic bronchitis motivated a move to 1024 Obispo in Long Beach California. By 1935, the business had moved to 1084 Obispo and his second wife had moved on. Meredith continued working even after his business passed to Donald Heaston sometime between 1949 and 1953. Meredith passed away January 9th, 1956 at the age of 86. His business continued on under Heaston, receiving Meredith’s last patent grant in 1957.
1905 – 1910 Rapid Expansion
The Martin firm struggled in its first years with control split between Henry Charles Martin, Robert J. Martin, Charles E. Martin and Frederick Martin.
Following on its original “Favorite” model cornet, Martin claimed in later publications to have released a version of the Long Model cornet, a large S-curve cornet in the form of the Perfected Wonder, in 1904. What is certain is that shortly after that, Martin introduced a unique cornet, a unique presentation edition of which from 1908 is below.
The horn bore a resemblance to the C.G. Conn Conn-querer, but the wrap is completely different. The tuning slide is positioned between first and second valve, and equipped with a throw hook for tuning adjustment similar to the function of the buttons on a Conn Wonder.
This particular example is covered in extended engraving and was a presentation horn. The open space in the engraving on the bell has been inscribed with the name “W. G. Peoples”.
Searching for the name produces some interesting results including an executive with the Southern Pacific Railway and a gangster killed in a Tampa shoot-out with police in 1930 who took his nickname “carnation kid” from the 1929 movie, but both were children in 1909. There is the long time public servant fro Beaver Township Michigan (8 terms as clerk, 8 years as Treasurer and then elected Supervisor 1903-5), born 10/22/1854 and married to Catherine (d. 1926) in 1879, however there is no record of his middle name. He would have been past the end of his political career in 1909. The most probable is from North Carolina - the author of the 1880 “Peoples’ pocket stair builder and carpenter’s handbook”, who would have turned 50 around the time this was presented. His book remains in print. He died in 1915.
Just prior to 1905 Frank Holton & Co. was formally incorporated and construction of the first 15,000 square feet (right of the center door only) of the Chicago factory was undertaken. The factory, which Holton’s Harmony Hints stated opened in 1907, can be seen in a post-1911 addition Holton graphic from the 1915 catalog below and the vacant site in 2012 as well. People and vehicles are depicted as quarter-scale to increase the sense of grandeur in the new building – which was actually modest in size.
A 1915 catalog depicted the Chicago Holton factory and store slightly differently, omitting the second door into the factory at the end by the store, raising the height of the store windows, and depicting the people and vehicles as if they were present at less than half scale relative to the size of the buildings. The towering building was actually quite small and a car would have obscured most of the store-front.
With the new corporation, the practice of building a handful of instruments from parts at the workbench of a music store transformed between 1905 and 1908 into a full-fledged manufacturing enterprise. Output of instruments in 1903 had been in the range of 50 to 200 units. In 1904, although the plant was only begun in that year, output rose to 625 units in temporary quarters with 1905 seeing a production run of some 721 and 1906 realizing a doubling of that volume.
Before the factory, Frank Holton began building trumpets. Below is a 1906, possibly late 1905, example of the first Holton trumpet design. This B-flat / A trumpet with a rotary valve for quick-change in key is #2021 and was obtained in restored condition from the collection of Bill Faust.
In 1905, Henri Selmer, the Paris woodwind manufacturer and music store proprietor sent his younger brother and business partner Alexander to New York to open a satellite store. The H&A Selmer Music Store would expand into a chain and eventually, though separated from the parent company, expand to become Conn-Selmer in merger with Steinway.
Alex Selmer (left) and Henri Selmer (right)
By the end of its first decade, it would compete in the mail-order business with Fischer, Lyon & Healy, C. Bruno & Sons and Volkwein’s Music of Pittsburg, which was the former F. Bechtel Music Store at which the new owners, Jacob and Rudolph Volkwein had worked since shortly after they arrived in the United States from Germany in 1895 at ages 13 and 15 respectively.
After touring with the Brooke’s Band in the spring of 1906, a 26 year old Iowan named Fred Forman returned to Denver and was installed as Director of the Denver Municipal Band, following in the shadow of former bandmasters Frederick Innes and Herman Bellstedt there. Forman played several instruments, but had toured as a cornet soloist. He contacted the Holton company to order a high-end New Proportion cornet. His request, however, included a unique alteration. His horn was to be a New Proportion short model, but rather than achieve low pitch with the longer tuning slide, the horn was outfitted with a unique longer bell, allowing the high pitch tuning slide to function on the otherwise low pitch only body as part of a low pitch horn. The horn also received full length engraving under its gold plating, and was described by Holton as the finest finished horn they had ever built.
Forman only lasted two years as leader of the Denver Municipal Band, and continued his career first in Denver and then in Oakland California, primarily as a theater orchestra leader and occasional teacher. There is no mention of him playing cornet after 1908, his last decade before his 1939 death being spent as a bass player in the San Francisco Symphony, and the Forman Model cornet, as the first horn was dubbed, is not mentioned in surviving Holton literature other than in reprints of Forman’s thank you note that ended when his tenure with the band did. Based on the serial number and accounts of its construction in Holton’s Harmony Hints, below is Fred Forman’s own Holton Forman Model cornet.
In 1906, another Elkhart band instrument company, EK Blessing, was founded as the city became a rival to Markneukirchen Germany and Graslitz Bohemia for the largest instrument making center in the world. Emil Karl Blessing was born in 1880 in Württemberg and began working for Buescher in Elkhart in the late 1890s specializing in improved piston valve designs. By 1903, he was working for Holton in Chicago, but returned to Elkhorn in 1907 to begin his own small manufacturing operation in his home.
Intending to build professional horns, Blessing stumbled into a role as a leading student and step-up manufacturer instead. Below is an example of an early Emil K. Blessing Company trumpet designed in 1910 and built around 1920. This was the first production model for the company. This example is completely intact and well cared for except that it has been so heavily used that the valves leak to the point of being unplayable.
Also in 1906, the CG Conn Company released the Perfected Wonder Cornet with a “S-curve” leadpipe design that had its origins in the Courtois Koenig model sometime before 1855. The design allowed for both the quick change to A tuning and high/low pitch slides to be sequential in a long minimally wrapped design on the new Conn. This design would be copied by virtually every manufacturer soon after. Below is an incomplete example of the original model made in 1906 with the HP slide.
The design was revised a few years later deleting the complex linkage that moved the valve slides out according to the position of the tuning slide. Below is an example of the later model from 1909.
Within a few years the catalog companies were selling stencils of this design that swept the market. A badly damaged Lyon & Healy American Professional is below. Starting in the 1860s, the great Chicago music store sold band instruments for nearly 8 decades, but made almost none of them. This is a stencil. The horn, bought in Chicago by a Grand Rapids native, was deliberately destroyed at some point when not that old and then maintained by his son in pieces until that gentleman was placed in hospice care in California. The how and why story has been lost to time.
The Lyon & Healy Store is pictured below at left and the harp factory at right.
At Holton, there was an alternative to the otherwise universal popularity of the S-curve design, which was the New Proportion Long Model. A 1912 in the .422” ‘00’ bore is below.
The model was introduced in or before 1906 as the New Proportion Long Model, but is often linked with cornet virtuoso Ernst A Couturier (pictured below) who joined the firm as promoter and road man. Some examples of the Long Model are marked with “Couturier Model” above the bell crest as will be shown on another shortly below. Considered second only to Clarke, Couturier (9/30/1869 – 2/28/1950) was noted for his six octave range and ability to demonstrate polyphonics (the technique of humming a pitch at certain intervals from the one being played causing the overtone interactions to infer a third and produce a full triad from the cornet). Prior to Couturier, this had generally been considered impossible.
One variant of the Long Model was marked above the bell crest with the words “Couturier Model. In all respects, it appears to be the same horn as the Long Model in the .458/9” “0” bore. A 1912 example with its slide set is shown below.
The Long Model was also available in a vocal version with a C slide that spanned from top to bottom slide receiver in front. It appears from surviving instruments, although not appearing in any Holton literature from the period, that another vocal version was built, including as a “Couturier Model”. This is the first instance of a model name appearing on the bell of a Holton cornet, as is the case with this 1911 Couturier Model vocal cornet below.
The bell marking was placed in the unusual position of being completely above the bell crest floral detailing.
Acting as Holton’s traveling salesman and promoter, Couturier delivered and demonstrated instruments in the ever competitive struggle for shelf space in major retailers. In February 1910, he carried a 1909 Holton trumpet which is shown here below and delivered it to Volkwein’s Music . Based on a June 2nd 1975 letter from Ted P. Kexel of Leblanc’s Holton and others, this horn has been in the custody of:
Ernst A. Couturier, Holton promoter 3 February 1910 (New)
Volkwien Brothers Music Co., Pittsburg, Pennsylvania 9 March 1910
John Wanamaker (the Philadelphia department store?) 14 June 1910
---- unknown ---
Mrs. Brenda Cifre, Staten Island, New York Early 1975
--- unknown ---
Glenn (Trumpetmaster.com ID “Borderline”) October 2010
Statesville Jewelry and Loan, Statesville, North Carolina Winter 2013
Ron Berndt, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan 24 April 2013
Above is the classic Holton bell art that was already in use by this time and continued through the Great Depression on some models.
By August of 1910, the later variant of this would be built in a transitional version approaching the 1911 design. Beyond the L.P. Esbach-type insert, the braces became the standard Holton cast Z-brace for the bell and a straight wire with ornamental tube sheath ends across the tuning slides. Below are the braces. The curved wire brace in the middle is from the fixed A tuning slide of the horn above. The right image is the forward bell brace which curves on the bell side while ending straight on the leadpipe side. At left is a 1912 Holton’s bell half of a Z brace and the tuning slide wire brace that is found on all later Holtons until the Revelation came out.
Below are additional views of the 1909/10 Holton Trumpet with its rotary quick-change to A slide installed as it appeared in the 1909 Holton’s Harmony Hints.
Also in Chicago in the first decade of the century was the small firm of Harry Jay, which built Columbia brand cornets and trumpets. Holton manufactured parts for the Columbia and would have had intimate knowledge of their designs.
The concept of reversed construction, that is to say when the tube from which air enters a slide device is extended inside a sleeve running off of the slide crook rather than the “standard” form of the slide leg inserting into a sleeve on the inlet tube, attracted great attention in trumpet design in the Twentieth Century. Many believe the myth that the Martin Committee introduced this concept. In fact, reversed slide construction can be found on cornets as early as 1840 – the first cornets.
In 1907, the Harry Jay company filed a patent on the concept of telescoping slide construction. The patent was granted even though the widely used Conn Wonder cornets included this feature. For those who trace the roots of the Schilke designed Committee back to the Holton Revelation, the similarity to earlier Columbia instruments cannot be missed.
The Jay patent was quite broad, protecting basically any use of reversed construction. At the time it was applied for, the Holton Long Model was already using a reversed tuning slide, as was the Conn Perfected Wonder and possibly King trumpets. Shortly after, the King Perfecto and Special would as well. Below is a 1917 example of a typical Columbia cornet. It is a mix of trumpet and cornet design, and it is rumored that trumpet shanks to replace the cornet tuning shank this horn utilized to leave the slide free for A-B flat quick change only, were produced.
Jay’s patent notably was never enforced.
HN White opened their Superior Street factory in 1909. The image below shows the plant a decade later, but the original building with the flagpole atop can be seen at the far left.
Around this time new models bearing the “Improved Model” designation on the bell crest appeared such as the Perfecto cornet. A 1911 Perfecto is shown below. Serial numbers for Perfectos begin by about 8000 which suggests that the Perfecto model likely began with the new factory. This example is #9785 and has a damaged lead pipe and weak original springs, but is otherwise intact,
Another of the HN White Improved Model cornets was a replacement for the original Combination Cornet. The Improved Model Vocal was built in the “S” leadpipe design that was sweeping the industry at the time, and utilized the first slide for high or low pitch. The keys of C or B flat were then selected using the rotary valve, or, with that valve in the “B” position, the slide at the bottom of the horn between that and third valve could be extended to pitch the horn in A. A ca. 1910 King Improved Model Vocal cornet is below.
It is unclear when trumpet production began at H.N. White. The King trumpet appears in the 1911 Catalog. The added capacity of the 1909 plant may have been key to supporting this addition - in which case the first King trumpet would have been eclipsed by its Improved Model successor almost immediately.
The first King trumpets are advertised as the “Small Bore Trumpet” in that Christmas catalog as seen in the image above from the legacy website http://www.hnwhite.com . The main slide, which is used for quick change as tuning is accomplished by an adjustable receiver, is reversed on the leadpipe side and came either in high pitch, and with the factory addition of small spacers and a brace, in low pitch as in this small bore example from 1910 below.
Someone began to strip and refinish this example, but never completed the job. The lack of lacquer on the slides accentuates the reversed construction that would otherwise not be readily apparent. The stop rod for the receiver has also been removed converting the main slide to tuning function.
rod for the receiver has also been removed converting the main slide to tuning function.
During this time, the Wurlitzer firm continued marketing a wide variety of instruments made by suppliers, many of which imitated unique designs by major manufacturers. One of the more unique is this 1909 Wurlitzer Symphony cornet below.
This Wurlitzer is another example of a large format cornet, a trend that was taking hold in force by the end of the decade. Much like the Perfecto from King and the Long Model New Proportion from Holton, the wrap of this cornet makes it similarly very forward-weighted relative to the grip, an uncomfortable trend for players that none-the-less seemed to sell well in this time period. The bell on this example has been remounted at the valves and is improperly slanted downward.
C.G. Conn introduced a new entry to the large format cornet market in 1909, and in the long model version offered what may have been the heaviest of these big cornets to reach the market. This was the Conn Perfected Wonderphone, which was available as a short format “Solo” model, a vocal model and the long format wrap shown below with this 1909 example.
In 1909. Henry Distin’s firm was sold to Brua Keefer, and continued as Brua C. Keefer&Co. through 1940. At the end of the decade the Selmer store in New York expanded and began selling Holton instruments.
1910 – 1915, A Time of Growth and Change
In 1910, The C.G. Conn Company was doing exceptionally well. The Perfected Wonder was the most sought-after cornet design on the market. Below is a trumpet offered by the C.G Conn Company in 1910.
Below is the Conn “Perfected Wonder” Symphony Trumpet’s bell . This horn was built in 1910 and sold in 1911 (none could be built 5/22/1910 - 12/12/1911). This has Perfected Wonder style leadpipe braces and the first and third slides are curiously half-reversed even though there is no sign of any rings for either.
Shortly after this was made, the factory was destroyed by fire. When Conn’s new factory came on line at the start of 1912, all the models were refreshed. A handful of hybrids between old and new designs were built in 1912 and examples can occasionally be found. The 1913 catalog entry for the “New Invention” Symphony Trumpet, showed just a single brace where before there had been two. The text shows that, like H.L. Clarke, Conn’s idea of trumpet tone was clearly a harsh one - perhaps because Col. Conn was a 69 year old cornetist at the time. It read “If you want a real Trumpet, an Instrument that is the real thing with a cutting, piercing, strident tone, buy the C. G. Conn Symphony Trumpet. That is what all the great trumpet players do”.
The C.G. Conn plant at Jackson Blvd. and Elkhart Ave. and completed inventory were valued at over $500,000.00 but insured for only $80,000.00 when the fire happened. WJ Gronert retired from Conn at this time. This plant, still illuminated by only window light, had been built after the first plant burned in 1883 on Conn’s birthday. Photos of both the complete and then destroyed plant can be seen in the museum collection at http://www.saxophone.org .
Col. Conn was travelling back to Elkhart from California when the fire happened. Fearing the loss of the plant and its jobs, the community turned out to welcome Conn home and threw a parade for Conn and the fire brigades. A huge crowd waited for his train at the station platform.
Conn decided to build the next plant at Beardsley and Conn Ave’s. Eleven months later, Colonel Conn mortgaged all his belongings for $200,000.00 – a debt from which he did not recover. He sold his businesses in 1915, and his wife did not adapt to the loss of status and resources well. Conn was divorced shortly after. He retired to California with sufficient pretense of wealth to marry a very young woman, but by the time of his 1931 death, his civil war officer’s pension was not enough to cover his debts and a hat had to be passed at the factory to cover the cost of his headstone.
When WJ Gronert left Conn, a lawsuit ensued as his contract had promised $0.50 for every instrument built, and the company had not paid. The suit dragged on for some time before a settlement was reached, but in the interim, Gronert established the Elkhart Musical Instrument Company, manufacturing instruments under his own name. Below is a circa 1913 Gronert “Masterpiece Grand”.
Notice the similarity to this circa 1900 Conn trumpet brace and stop design.
However, on closer examination, this stop uses a hollow tube shell with a thumb screw and contained nut. This allows setting the maximum pull of the slide. In 1924, the Frank Holton company would patent the unique stop mechanism on the second generation Revelation trumpet using a similar hollow shell held by a clamp to the tuning slide with a ball-end rod inside. In that case, the shell clamp set the depth, but the concept is remarkably similar.
H.N. White, working out of rented space in the Erie building, made extensive use of stencil product until at least 1909 when the Superior street facility opened, but probably continued the practice until that plant had significantly expanded. As stencil sales had steadily increased and, those horns were often trade-ins on professional models after someone learned to play on them, it is possible that White saw in these stencil sales the birth of the student instrument market. That recognition is generally credited to York with the establishment of the Grand Rapids Band Instrument Company in 1913. Below is an early S-curve design less closely based on the Conn cornet, which was built by Bohland & Fuchs in Bohemia sometime after 1906 and probably before 1916.It is stenciled as an “Imperial” with H.N. White as sole agent for the Cleveland area. It carries no serial number.
Though highly unlikely for an inexpensively built stencil horn from Graslitz, this horn is rumored to have a sterling silver bell. If so, it is the earliest horn sold by H.N. White with this characteristic and may well be the inspiration for the Silvertone after the first world war. As such, this cornet would be a most significant piece of band instrument history.
Below is an American Prep, a 1914 Wm. Frank tradename, with serial number 90,254, which was made in 1959 by Blessing. The case is even labeled outside with a medallion bearing the clue: “It’s a Blessing”.
In 1910, a former Holton employee and French horn player, William Frank (1876-1932), entered into student instrument production ahead of the market. His National Band Instrument Company, founded in Chicago around 1910, lasted only a few years before restructuring as Wm. Frank & Co. At one time, the workforce reached 32 people, and the company used several tradenames on student horns including Barrington, Belmore, Excelsior, and American Prep. Frank used some Holton parts and valves made by EK Blessing. After being shut-down by World War Two, Wm. Frank operated briefly before it appears Blessing may have taken control. Serials below 30,000 are from the original company while those above 70,000 appear to be Blessing built and serialized. In 1956 the Wm. Frank Company was dissolved and Schilke Music Products bought the tooling, though Blessing seems to have used the name and designs longer. Below is a 1933 Frank Excelsior trumpet.
Around this time, Martin was already making trumpets. The original Martin trumpet is portrayed in the first edition of “trumpet Tunes”, and the advertising graphic for that is below.
Available by 1910, and in a similar form before that, was the Martin Standard Long Model cornet. It is a clone of the 1906 Conn Perfected Wonder. In the 1912 “Trumpet Tunes” (V1#1), Martin claims that the Perfected Wonder style design originated with drawings made by Henry C. in 1902 when he was in Grand Rapids, possibly employed at York. However, his 1903 patent was a trombone stop rod.
Below is a 1911 Martin Standard Long Model cornet.
The second generation Martin Standard remained in production spanning three decades and two changes in ownership.
Next is a 1911 professional J.W. York & Sons Perfec-tone cornet in its original case with HP & LP slides as well as C adapter. This unique horn plays well by any standard. The leadpipe wraps down and back into a quick-change slide for conversion from Bb to A. The next loop is the tuning slide, of which there are two to allow for either high or low pitch. To some extent, it is a reversal of the Besson orientation.
A side view displays the very unique wrap of the Perfec-tone.
The Perfec-tone was imitated by Bohland & Fuchs with the model below, which is a Sears Marceau.
Of the unusual cornet designs including the New Proportion Couturier/Perfecto, Perfec-tone, Victor New Wonder, Couturier, and the grouping of Conn, Martin, Lyon & Healy, York, and many stencil names all essentially copying the scale and wrap (if not the unique valve porting) of the Conn Perfected Wonder, most played remarkably well compared to the Besson-inspired short cornets of the late Nineteenth Century. However, the Besson design would rise again in a likewise expanded and improved form and eclipse them within two decades.
While the original line of cornets and the first King trumpet appeared in the Christmas 1911 catalog, it appears that HN White began building the second generation a year earlier or concurrently. Bell art typical of the “Improved Model” generation is shown above and the unique trumpet tuning leadpipe and second high pitch slide set are below.
The Improved Model trumpet was similar in design to the original King trumpet except that the trim detailing was streamlined. This can be seen most clearly in the low pitch main slide shown below as compared to that of the original model shown previously. Functional design aspects such as the tunable receiver, valve block, bell crook and use of the front main slide for Bb/A quick change rather than tuning, remain unchanged. This theme would appear in other carry-over designs, however the line would also include some completely new cornet designs. A 1911 Improved Model trumpet configured for low pitch is below. Its High pitch slides are picture above.
The 1909 Holton shown earlier was replaced in mid-1910 by the same model, but with new straight wire braces. In 1911, it took on a new form that would continue through 1921 with minor changes. This was the last model Holton until the T-100 to position the second valve slide forward in the Besson style. Below is a 1911 Holton in gold plate with “Deluxe full-length” engraving. This is a HP/LP version with the low pitch slide set installed. It was purchased from the collection of William Hull Faust in 2014.
The 1911 features additional floral engraving running the length of the bell which has been chased after the gold plating was completed. The horn probably came in a purple lined case and would have made quite an impression.
The elaborate engraving of the 1911 Holton
Below is a 1911 Low Pitch only model which appears to have brass paint on the Esbach A/B-flat slide.
Frank Ellsworth Olds (below), born in 1861, was the son of Frank Ellsworth of Civil War Ellsworth Zouaves fame. He apprenticed at C.G. Conn before opening the first bicycle making shop in Los Angeles in 1885. In 1886 he added the first electroplating facility. Engaging in a number of business ventures and working as a mechanic at the Locomobile Company of the Pacific, he gradually transitioned to a full time instrument repairman working out of a machine shop behind his home by 1910.
A trombonist, he began making his own just as Henderson White had and filed his first patents in 1912. This is generally marked as the beginning of the F.E. Olds company. Old’s continued as a small producer working up to a level of only about 200 trombones per year during the teens.
Back in Elkhart, The Martin Company struggled from sibling rivalry even after being bought-out in 1912 by a young employee of just 4 years, Francis Compton (b. June 1885 on grandfather Ezekiel’s 1833 pioneer Elkhart farm). He brought in WJ Gronert, who is credited with starting to stabilize the business in 1916 after he joined and merged his Elkhart Musical Instrument Company, founded in 1911, into Martin. Unfortunately, Gronert died in 1919. The company finally stabilized when bought by O.P. Basset in 1920. Though he relinquished control, Henry C. Martin remained President of The Martin Company until 1922. The unique variant of the Martin Renowned Trumpet below with a rotary quick-change valve between Bb and A installed in the tuning slide was built in 1914. This example is outfitted with “high pitch tubes” with a “low pitch tubes” accessory that sold separately in the catalog, displayed at left.
Like so many others, Henderson White also built a professional grade cornet in the S-curve style. This was the King Special, which may have been built between 1912 and 1916 alongside of the cheaper stencil. The Special was part of an overhaul of the King cornet line that held onto the Long Model and also included the Improved Model that was essentially identical, which were shown earlier. It is likely that the short cornet was eliminated along with its sibling vocal cornet. The Improved Model Combination Vocal cornet was a part of this second generation. Finally, the Perfecto, a copy of the Holton Long model, rounded out these King cornets.
A 1912 Special reconstructed by Robb Stewart is pictured below. The instrument was obscure enough that a 1916 advertisement stated “you have never seen this model”. The leadpipe is a guess based on scars left in surviving components and the high pitch tuning slide was found in Stewart’s parts bins, seemingly a perfect fit for this large bore horn while not matching any other known King.
The original state of this horn prior restoration is below, with the second valve slide from a Conn Perfected Wonder inserted to compare bore size where the top end of the horn was missing.
In 1912, the Holton trumpet design was revised with the second valve slide being angled to the rear. This appears to be the only change in the design. Below are both the HP/LP and LP only versions from 1912 and 1913 respectively. The 1912 example was intended for artist use and features a vermeil bell.
In 1913, Holton introduced one of its least popular models, the New Proportion FC Model cornet. Described as “between the Short model and Long model in size”, a 1913 example is below.
In 1914, the design was revised switching the A/B-flat quick change via stop-rod pull from the rear of the two nested slides to the front. Tuning then moved to the rear Esbach slide supporting the installation of a large thumb-wheel microtuning device. This design would remain in production until the firm moved to Elkhorn. A 1917 HP/LP in its original case is pictured below. While not part of the Evolution of the Trumpet Exhibit, this horn arrived from a Salvation Army store hours before and was used in the 2/27/2013 Life Long Learning lecture Trumpets Through the Ages at Hill Auditorium.
It should be noted that the 1917 above is marked with the smaller bore size of .443”, which Holton denoted with the code 00-1/4. All of the 1917 and 1918 Holton trumpets the author has encountered were built in this non-standard bore.
Below is a 1915 Low Pitch only model of the 1914-18 Holton trumpet design. This is the same model as Vincent Bach’s 1914 that he received after arriving in Boston to sit Assistant Principal to Holton artist Gustav Heim. By this time, the differences between HP/LP and LP only horns were almost undetectable.
At the same time, Holton released a cornet with the same Esbach slides and microtuner. These were the second instrument to bear the Revelation name first used on a trombone. A 1914 configured for low pitch with the high pitch slide set alongside is below.
The design of this cornet looks quite unusual now, although it remained in production in one form or another at Holton and also in a copy built by FE Olds into the 1960s. But at the time, designs were constantly changing and unusual was the norm. In 1924, the Long Model, which was renamed as the Model 25 in the 1930s, replaced this design.
C.G. Conn also experimented in 1914 with a juxtaposition of parts placing the HP/LP slide where the tuning is expected in front and then a thumbwheel micro-adjusted tuning slide vertically in the rear of the Victor New Wonder 80A cornet.
This 1926 example retains its original New Wonder mechanism which automatically adjusted the valve slides when the main A-Bb “Quick Change” slide moved. The tuning slid is vertical on the bell stem.
In 1914, Cundy-Bettony, having owned the Boston Musical Instrument Company for over a decade, finally saw the departure of the last of the founders from the firm. This brought to an end a period of nearly three and a half decades of stubborn adherence to the flag-ship 3-star cornet model and Boston moved to bring a new product to market. After so many years of the masters like Esbach steadfastly asserting that their masterpiece could not be improved upon, the apprentices that had come up in the company had no experience with designing something new, let alone reading the tastes of the market, which by then was shifting along with the trends in popular music to being trumpet-centric.
Below is a 1916 example of the misconceived last flag-ship model of the Boston Company; black-sheep heir to the East-coast brass instrument heritage of Graves, Wright and Esbach..
With gold accents and the classic Boston bell engraving still displaying three stars and the “Ne Plus Ultra” inscription, the cornet looks like a top line professional horn and has a large, rich tone. However, its intonation is awful. On close inspection, the Boston wrap is actually unique, but its problematic resemblance to the York, stencil and other similar horns was a major liability. The “Boss-Tone” trumpet of the same early Cundy-Bettony period showed similar features, but lagged behind Holton, Conn, Martin and King in design sophistication. Interestingly, Boston used a retaining ring to stop the forward slide as A/B-flat quick-change and a bell stem tuning slide rather than use the nested Esbach slides. A 1917 example is below.
Boston had elected to focus on a new cornet, one that would recapture their reputation as a premium maker and thus be worthy of the “Ne Plus Ultra” inscription. The lack of experience in-house forced Boston to look to other makers and copy their work. Unfortunately, probably seeing the abundance of Conn-based designs already on the market, Boston opted for a design favored by York. Once committed to this course, the expansion of Yorks in the stencil market and the association of the design with cheap, mail-order instruments was a fatal blow to the company from which Boston would never recover. Boston limped along with outdated and largely inferior product until the financial stresses of the Great Depression finally ended the century-old firm that began with Samuel Graves.
Above is the bell of the 1917 Boston trumpet.
By the mid-teens, Holton had become a major player in the band instrument market. At this point, professionals in the industry of music, including the orchestral and operatic sectors, would turn to a major manufacturer such as Holton with requests to fill their specific needs. Above is a Holton trumpet manufactured on March eleventh 1915 for such a customer. The receiver is marked “D.L.P.”. This horn, covered in a remarkably light shot-blast 14K or white gold plating, is convertible to a standard orchestral C trumpet as well as its native configuration as a D solo horn above. The C configuration is below.
Couturier had been instrumental in reaching out to leading figures in the industry and it is not clear if it was his legacy, Gustav Heim or another figure that made the production of this horn possible.
In March of 1915 when this was built, Vincent Bach was resolving to return to life on the road after divorcing his first wife (his mother-in-law asserted he married her too, instantly ending the marriage) and had only his Holton B-flat. He would have needed a solo horn and was someone Holton would have built such as this for. While no firm evidence exists, Bach might have used this horn in his playing career.
The Rise of the Trumpet
By 1916, the winds of change were blowing strong in popular music. In Chicago, the clubs were filled with the sounds of Jazz and Swing music. Companies like Holton and Jay would be the first to recognize these, but the rest of the American band industry clustered around the Great Lakes would not be long to follow.
The first way in which this change manifested itself was in the ongoing rapid evolution of new cornet designs in a futile effort to recapture a dissolving market. By 1916, the HN White Company had abandoned the second generation of cornets and brought all new models to market. These included the Improved Perfecto, the original Master Model cornet and third generation of Vocal/Combination cornet such as this 1918 example below, which differed from the Improved vocal mainly in the lack of a front slide.
To go with these cornets, White introduced the Master Model Trumpet and followed it shortly after with the Master Model C Convertible Trumpet. A 1919 Master Model Trumpet in its original case is below. This horn was obtained from the grand-daughter of the original owner in 2012.
The level of sophistication in the design of this trumpet is a departure from the prior generation and results from the shift from cornet to trumpet in the few intervening years. A 1937 example of the long-running Master Model Vocal C Trumpet is shown below.
With the loss of Couturier in 1913, Holton continued the cornet as the Long Model again, but in 1915 negotiated with Herbert L Clarke to endorse a modified version which ran the leadpipe a little lower and then turned up and in to the third valve casing. A 1923 example is below with the advertising graphic.
The Holton-Clarke was built in two models, the H-C, and the H-C Long Model. This is somewhat ironic as the shorter of the two was still the direct evolution of the New Proportion Long Model. A Holton-Clarke Long Model, with its characteristic lack of a shepherd’s crook bend in the bell is below.
A vocal Clarke model was added in both the standard and Long Model variants adding the ability to convert to C as in the 1921 example shown below.
Couturier had left to join York and build instruments based on his 1913 patent (below).
It can be seen herein that Couturier attempted to ease the typical tight bends in tubing. This plus the matter of a pulled slide interrupting the pure rate of conical expansion key to Couturier’s intentions, caused Couturier to forego the inclusion of any but a tuning slide on most of the horns he designed.
The arrangement with York did not work out and Couturier purchased the 4 year old failed William Seidel Band Instrument Company of Elkhart Indiana in 1917. He moved the firm to LaPorte Indiana and began manufacture of a full line of conical bore band instruments under his own name. Below is Byron Autry restored Couturier A/Bb short cornet #3939 built in 1919. Contrary to the norm, this horn has slides for all valves, suggesting that at least this customer did not share Couturier’s view of their extraneous nature.
Below that is a more typical example of the Couturier short cornet. #2252 was built at the end of 1917 and is one of the earlier Couturier horns. Only a tuning slide is provided on this horn.
Couturier was an engineering genius, devising a means to taper the tube walls so that when in, a half-reversed slide would be conical and yet the mating surfaces would be parallel as in his trombone below.
His slide design, of course, also infringed on Harry Jay’s patent for half-reversed construction, but it seems that it was never enforced. Building a trombone with a conical bore, ignoring that in 6 of 7 positions that progression was unavoidably interrupted, as well as building cornets in the shape of trumpets, which by definition are supposed to be more cylindrical, shows that Couturier blurred the line between genius and insanity. One of the last horns built by his firm, before it became insolvent and was absorbed by Lyon & Healy in 1923, is this trumpet-shaped A/Bb long cornet.
By the time this horn was built at the factory in LaPorte pictured below, Couturier had gone blind. He would continue playing and teaching in California for six years before moving to Mt. Vernon New York and ultimately passing away in a mental institution in 1950 at age 80.
As can be seen by Couturier’s horns above, the Holton Couturier version of the Long Model Model was not really what he had in mind as a design. The 1911 Long Model patent at left was signed by Holton, his attorney and witnesses, not Couturier. The first versions of this model were sold by at least 1906, predating Couturier’s involvement with the company.
The E.A. Couturier Company focused its marketing on the same topic as its designs – the pure conical bore. Below is a 1921 magazine advertisement for Couturier.
In 1914, as stated above, the HN White Company determined its first revamp of the cornet product line had not met expectations and began working on new models to replace the aging Long Model, its Improved Model twin, the Improved Vocal, the Perfecto, and the Special. It appears that the improved Perfecto #2 was the first of these new designs in that year.
The key issue with the Perfecto, and with the Holton Couturier and later Clarke models on which it was based, is that the added loop of tubing to provide the necessary length for a B-flat instrument is entirely in front of the valve assembly, and thus the position of the player’s holding hand. This makes the instrument front-heavy and creates a tiring pulling feeling on the arm holding the instrument. When coupled with the force of pressing the horn against the lips, the players left arm quickly tires. The Perfecto #2, the last King instrument to bear the “Improved” name, moved this added length of tubing to the rear of the instrument by lengthening the bell stem.
Below is an early Improved Perfecto #2 made in 1914.It’s bell engraving is above.
Another third generation King cornet that would not only be produced until WWII, but which would become the signature cornet of the company, remaining in production in its second form until after the White family had sold the firm to Nate Dolin in the mid-1960s, was the 1915-introduced Master Model Cornet. This horn featured a patented long under-slung tuning slide designed to be caught by tines at set points so as to be easily convertible from Bb to A at high or low pitch according to the patent for the slide design. A 1915 Master Model is shown below. The horn came complete with both high and low pitch slide sets.
This example has the low pitch third valve slide installed in combination with the other high pitch slides. They are unfortunately currently seized in place, but can likely be freed. The low pitch tuning slide, first slide and second slide along with the high pitch third are arranged below.
Just as the Perfecto, appearing around 1912, followed closely on the heels of Holton’s 1906 New Proportion Long Cornet, renamed the Couturier in 1907, the King Master Model follows Holton’s F.C. Model cornet by about three years as well. The F.C. Model had a unique under-slung tuning loop just as appears on the Master Model, except that the Holton design layers all of the wrap tubing on the leadpipe side of the valves, while the master wraps to a port on the back side of the third valve.
On the student line side of the house, if that in fact was what it was recognized by, the Imperial stencil was dropped and the tooling from the Special repurposed to make an Imperial in-house.
White built this for stencil as a McMillin Crown brand (his former employer and mentor) and then also stenciled the horn himself still utilizing the name Imperial. In 1920, White renamed his self-stencil the “King Junior” which indicates that this horn replaced the B&F built Imperial prior to World War One.
By 1916, H.N. White included in his third generation a unique variant of the Master Model cornet intended for the military market. While not engraved “USN”, “USMC”, or “USQMC” on the bell, as would be done when built to government contract, the case lining was stamped “QC” with this early 1916 King #801 “Cavalry” cornet below.
The HN White Company had been proactive in adding the Cavalry to its line-up once the war in Europe escalated beyond any previously seen. The assumption of US involvement was rational, if premature.
On the eve of the war, it appears that York was building bugles. Possibly these, mostly model 1894 trench bugles, were for sale to other nations, or perhaps the US Quartermaster Corps was stocking up in anticipation of what was to come. It is likely around this time that the G bugle below, which is badly out of tune on the sharp side and pulls all the way to the flat side of G but not F, was built by York. The elements and metal all appear consistent with trench bugles made by York in the teens, but the mouthpiece appears to be even earlier.
The Martin Company struggled with disruptive internal politics and did not begin producing quality instruments until the second half of the teens. Their first trumpet appeared prior to 1912. The Martin Superlative, appeared in the 1916 catalog and is characterized by the tunable receiver similar to that used by HN White 1900-1915. A 1922 Martin Superlative is below.
The 1916 catalog image showed the horn with an incorrect brace.
During the teens, Martin launched the trumpet that would go on to first feature the Handcraft and Dansant labels in later years. This was the Martin Symphony. These early Symphony trumpets are sometimes misidentified as Superlatives.
Below is a 1917 Martin Symphony with the #2 finish.
The horns were a conglomeration of the ideas of others. They used the perpendicular second valve slide & valve length of early Conns, the square-cornered dual-radius “tuning slide” of period Holtons, a lock ring retained slide for A/Bb quick-change like Boston, Vega and King, a tunable leadpipe from Harry Jay’s Columbia or White’s Kings on one and Esbach front HP and LP tuning slides with a rear Bb/A mirroring Holton on the other. Arguably, these were their first horns designed by committee
Conn 2nd slide & valves, Esbach Slides, Holton dual-radius, Columbia tuning leadpipe, Boston lock ring
Throughout the first three decades of the Twentieth Century, the “quick-change” from A to Bb by means of a slide and stop-rod, or a rotary valve, was offered by most manufacturers on their better models. The rotary valve approach offered a single function of switching to A while preserving the set of the tuning slide (if properly sized to preserve intonation as set). Couesnon in France was one of the first to use this design. Below is a Wurlitzer Feature trumpet from the late teens that exemplifies this design.
The Wurlitzer Feature on the previous page has no serial number in the usual location. Instead, it bears the number “2” at the bottom of the second valve casing next to a “D” and also on every valve spring-box. One theory proposed for this is that this is a “Demonstration” build, number 2 prototype. Equally possible is that this is a “model 2” for a supplier building for Wurlitzer.
Above is a late teens designed J.W. York and Sons clone of the Couesnon design from 1921. The cover is missing from the A/Bb valve and it is stuck in Bb, but the horn is a playable relic rescued from use as wall art. This model was the base finish for the horn. At below is the bell of a 1919 model in the vermeil finish.
Couesnon began in 1827 as the workshop of Auguste Guichard. In 1845 it changed ownership and became Gautrot, the prolific maker of cornopians in the mid-century. Gautrot then became Couesnon in 1883 just after Besson designed their archetypical trumpet. Couesnon built a widely copied quick-change trumpet some time thereafter using a rotary valve between the tuning slide and valves.
Couesnon’s French competitor Antoine Courtois also built trumpets in this design. Antoine Courtois, the world’s oldest band instrument company, passed to the Gaudet family who are still involved today although Courtois ultimately became part of the Buffet-Crampon group which also owns the J.W. York & Sons brandname today.
Below is a 1914 example built for New York’s H&A Selmer stores in the year of their 125th anniversary
The quick-change rotary valve was very popular and spread quickly across all of the makers, as can be seen in several other examples herein. The inline style valve of the Couesnon and similar horns proved problematic as it obstructs the left hand and makes a top-side throw for the third valve slide all but impossible. Holton briefly attempted this design just after 1910 and abandoned it for that reason. Many less expensive manufacturers however perpetuated this form through the 1920s with an abundance of stencil horns. A 1921 advertisement is below.
A top-of-the-line Couesnon Monopole from the teens with the rotary in an optional slide is below. This horn likely came with fixed Ab and Bb slides as well as the quick-change.
Not all Couesnon trumpets were built as quick-change models. Below is an example of a Couesnon from the mid nineteen-teens that was built for export to the US. It bears the name “Richmond” and this example was sold by the Palmer Music Company in Clarksburg West Virginia. The case label is below it.
The financial stress of the destruction of the Conn factory and the cost of rebuilding it into the facility shown below was too much for CG Conn and in 1915, he sold all his business interests to Carl Greenleaf.
Carl Greenleaf The Conn Factory as rebuilt in 1912 Colonel Conn
In 1918 General John J. Pershing faced a challenge when attempting to integrate with military units from European cultures where, for the preceding century, large and talented military and civic bands, playing heavy and elaborately decorated instruments, had been not only an embodiment of European imperialism, but of national identity and might. By comparison, Pershing had arrived with a massive and well-armed draftee army, but only a handful of small, rag-tag, improvised bands of soldiers who also played instruments to some degree. In the summer of 1918, Pershing took time out from fighting the war to focus on the restructuring of military music in order to attain credibility with his peers and the local population. He secured Congressional funding for 20 new regimental bands, increased band size from 28 to 48 musicians, relieved musicians of all other duties, and added trumpets and saxophones to the instrumentation so that these bands could also serve a morale function playing popular music.
Below is the formal announcement of the contract being let as it appeared in Music Trades Magazine:
There was one exception however. As ships are long lead-time items, the government pro-actively began expansion of the US Navy. As new ships came on line a few years later, ships bands did create some limited demand for handfuls of instruments. Then, when the restructuring occurred in 1918, a great many additional instruments were purchased for the Navy. These were often top line instruments such as the example 1918 King Baritone/Euphonium (the catalog listed both names as interchangeable for this model) below. While not in the trumpet family, it is another interesting element collected, in that it includes the rare “4th register valve” option that could be ordered for an additional $10.00.
The .453 bore Conn Wonder Symphony model below, was one of those built in 1918 in furtherance of Pershing’s orders. On Memorial Day 2013, this WWI veteran horn sounded Taps for the first time at the new Military Service Monument in the Village of Beverly Hills (MI) as part of a large dedication and memorial ceremony including speeches by District Judge Hon. Capt. Bill Richards (USA), Dineen Hill survivor and Silver Star recipient Capt. David Noyes (USMC) and U.S. Congressman Sander Levin.
The C.G. Conn company had been building B-flat trumpets since at least 1899 according to Robb Stewart and their first model, despite the common theme across the first few decades of Conn sales literature that their trumpet was not just a modified cornet, is pictured below from 1906 advertising. The Conn-inspired 1918 Buescher Model 5 below, which also features the unique 3-1-2 routing of their Epoch valve system, was one of the last of these cornets-turned-trumpets built.
WWI had a disruptive effect on the production of most brass instrument makers. Shell casings were deemed a more necessary use of brass than instruments and the makers turned their labor force over to that production. This transition to and then back from wartime production was the instigator of a wholesale refreshing of the product available in the instrument market in general, but the trend toward that mix began before the war.
The concert band was central to popular music in the last decades of the Nineteenth Century competing with operas for audiences and fame. Groups such as the Gillmore Band, the Sousa Band and Arthur Pryor’s Band achieved superstar status. However, the new century would bring the dawn of swing music and by the late teens, the jazz sound. This music was as uniquely unsuited to the tonal character of the cornet as it was suited to the directional nature and carrying power of the brasher trumpet.
Perhaps the early jazz clubs of Chicago are what prompted the Frank Holton Company, still based in Chicago in the mid-teens, to make a radical decision when Ernst Couturier, who had promoted Holton horns starting in 1907, left the firm to pursue manufacture of his designs elsewhere. As concert bands had been the focus of popular music previously, cornet players had been the stars of the bands and every instrument company sought a big-name cornetist to endorse and show their product. Holton decided instead to choose a fresh-off-the-boat Austrian trumpeter who had landed a job in the Boston Symphony his first week in America, Vincent Bach (below).
Bach had been born in Austro-Hungary in Baden bei Wien in present day Austria in 1890. His step-father was determined that Vincent Schrottenbach would make a name in the explosive growth of industrialization in Europe at that time. Vincent was sent to what translates as “machine builder school” from which he graduated by age 20. Labor unions being unknown to central Europe at the time, there was no division of labor between mechanical engineering (or machine design) and skilled trades. Bach was trained in a broad range of technology from delicate machining through metal working and heavy construction. He also had the fundamental education necessary for engineering. This could have put him in harm’s way when inducted into the Austro-Hungarian military, except that he had also been playing the traditional imperial highly-conical rotary valve trumpet since age 12 and was accepted as a military musician.
After leaving the military, he defied his father’s wishes, unheard-of in the empire, and began a solo career touring Europe as a virtuoso cornetist. This brought him to England in June 1914 where, amid great success, events forced a radical change in his life. In Sarajevo, Arch-Duke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated, and as war followed, he found himself, as a reserve member of the Austrian military, also a public figure on enemy soil. He booked passage to New York, signing the manifest as Vincent Bach to elude pursuit.
The Bach Stradivarius trumpet is said to be based on the Besson that Bach brought with him to New York. However, Bach’s account of his first performance in what turned out to be a burlesque house, indicates he had a Besson cornet, not trumpet. And while all perinet valve trumpets to some degree, and the Strad in particular, are similar to the Besson, there is far greater Holton DNA observable in the Strad.
Bach first played in the Boston Symphony alongside of Gustav Heim, who won him over to Holton products. After one full season, he left the symphony to resume a career as a traveling artist. Bach fairly soon thereafter began playing for the Metropolitan Opera and promoting for Holton.
Above, Bach appears in a 1914 publicity photo holding his new 1914 low pitch model Holton B-flat/A trumpet he required to play in the Boston Symphony. The horn has many features that Vincent Bach incorporated into the design of the first Stradivarius.
Bach did not stay long with Holton, or out of the war. In 1918, he was drafted and served as a bandmaster and bugle instructor in the US Army. After the war, Bach set up a lathe in the back of the Selmer Music store in New York and began his first business. The kindnesses of the Selmer stores at this time in his life were later cited as the reason Bach elected to sell his company to Selmer in 1961 in spite of higher bids from others.
The business idea had been prompted by the destruction of Bach’s own mouthpiece by a repairman and his discovery that fabrication, much like repair, of a mouthpiece was within the skill set developed during his education. The story is intriguing as the mouthpiece Bach is photographed with on the preceding page is a stock Holton. Below is a 1921 copy of Bach’s first ad.
The war disrupted the activities of most manufacturers, but at Holton it turned opportunity into crisis.
By 1916, Holton’s personal finances had transformed from the near desperation of 1900 to a comfortable income and he bought a small farm in Elkhorn Wisconsin that would be his retreat and recreation for the remainder of his life. At the same time, the Chicago plant had expanded to fill every available inch of the property and a house across the street. He realized that the company needed a new home and George Renner immediately began lobbying in Elkhorn to incentivize Holton & Co. to move there.
The 2000 citizens of Elkhorn raised $43,000.00 and contributed tremendous volunteer labor to make the 80,000 square foot brick facility a reality. In October of 1918, the entire contents of the Chicago plant were loaded onto train cars and moved to the new plant. The 6 acre facility was provided free to Holton in exchange for committing to a total payroll of at least a half million dollars over the following seven years. With exponential sales growth, this had seemed an easy challenge in 1916, but by 1918 the situation had changed.
In the summer of 1917, popular outrage over the 1915 sinking of the liner Lusitania manifested into American entry into World War One. By fall of 1918, not only was brass hard to come by, as it was needed for shell casings, but so was young labor to train and then operate the new plant. Holton recalled 1916 - 1919 as the hardest time of his life, even harder than the cash-strapped first three years of the business. Frank Holton was said to always keep a trombone at his desk to demonstrate and relax. It must have seen a great deal of use in those days.
The 1919 Holton trumpets, HP/LP and LP-only models below were built at the height of Holton’s crisis.
Unlike the 1912/13 design examples shown earlier, the 1919 models are essentially identical except for the tuning slide construction. There is no difference in the position of the valve block in these horns.
With labor and material shortages holding down production, Frank Holton battled throughout the war just to prevent the government from shutting down the plant by cutting off its materials. He was required to make production quotas, and at times had to be very creative to do so. Once in Elkhorn, that pressure amplified. To recruit workers, Holton invested in building a neighborhood of homes. Unfortunately, the city was unable to complete the sewers to support these and in the fall rains, the basements all flooded. Diverting manpower from the plant to pump out flooded homes, Holton then had to arrange the construction of temporary sewers and pits with his own resources.
Only in the last month of 1919 was Holton able to relax as the wartime pressures lifted and he realized that it had actually been a good year for sales. The end of the war with the armistice in November of 1918 had immediately relieved the burden on materials, however the labor force was slow to return. With that labor, of course, also came the market for instruments which expanded as American soldiers returned home over 1919. The Treaty of Versailles that formally ended the war also interestingly included by reference an earlier 1885 Vienna convention on the frequency of tuning A, setting it at 435 Hz (low Pitch). That Fall, Holton’s new experimental workshop, where Frank Holton was spending much of his time as a form of stress relief, would produce a prototype that two years later would evolve into the paradigm altering Holton Revelation Trumpet.
Below is one of the prototype Revelation trumpets. This first generation did not include reversed construction, the feature for which the Revelation name is perhaps best known. The production model did include a half-reversed third valve slide with an adjustable throw ring which was not included in the 1919 prototypes.
Below is another early Holton Revelation that appears identical to the pre-production example above except for bore. This horn is unique and may bear witness to the confusion and speed of the relocation to Elkhorn. In order to meet demand and minimize the financial impact of having production shut down while the tooling from Chicago was installed in the new plant, Holton ran the factory right up until the last minute, loading boxcars after the end of the last shift and conducting the move over a weekend.
This horn has the body and serial number of a Fall 1918 medium-bore Chicago trumpet of the standard 1914 braced and heavy design. The receiver and leadpipe braces are the old Chicago style, not the slender more modern trim used at Elkhorn. However, it is a Revelation, which did not exist even as a demonstration hand-build until a full year later than this serial number. The bell is also marked Elkhorn.
When running until the last moment, it stands to reason that not every horn was complete when the move happened. Instruments would have been in all states of assembly and all of the inventory would have moved along with the tooling and staff. This horn, however, must have been fairly complete. The new tuning slide assembly is necessary to make a Revelation out of it, but the bell could have remained (the customer would not have known). The best theory explaining these selective changes, and why it would not have been sold a year before when Holton was in financial stress, is that it must have been damaged during the move and set aside as scrap for repair parts or experimental use, finding its way to the new experimental workshop in the Elkhorn plant to become a mock-up of a 00-1/4 bore Revelation.
When Holton moved to Elkhorn, some parts may have been obtained from local suppliers such as trim elements, or it may simply have been decided to modernize while setting up new tooling, but the bell/LP escutcheons changed from these rounded plates to diamond shapes, and the receiver was modernized into a sleek (and fragile) single sleeve with no applied reinforcing ring. These details below, and the serial number, are the clues that this body was built in Chicago.
Once established in Elkhorn, the Holton company band merged with the town band which had begun as a regimental band during the Civil War. Below is a picture of the band in front of the new factory.
Other events of the wartime period included the launching of a student line of instruments at the renamed C.G. Conn Ltd. Carl Greenleaf incorporated a wholly owned subsidiary named Pan-American. This venture was given older Conn designs to build leveraging the investment that had gone into development and tooling. Conn under Greenleaf would be known for a highly dynamic product line-up and there was a never ending supply of new second-hand designs for the Pan-American division.
In New York, George Bundy (b.1891) became manager of the H&A Selmer Music Stores in 1918 after 9 years there. He and Henri Selmer are pictured in France above. It was Bundy who would choose to provide cheap space to Vincent Bach (1890-1976) in the back of the store, perhaps due in part to both being in their late twenties. It was the best investment Selmer made.
In Cleveland, the Cleveland Band Instrument Company was launched in 1919 giving the HN White company some locally based competition. Capitalized at $25,000 it was founded by Frank Hruby, Jas. Sistek, Fred Hruby, James Shelle, and Kinsel Pierce and initially built quality instruments at affordable prices.
Below is a 1925 Cleveland trumpet, one of the last built by the independent firm. While not the equal of the best trumpets of that day, this late teens design is a professional horn and uses Esbach slides for quick-change to A. The A lock is a retention ring similar to what Boston, Vega and Martin were using.
In contrast to the preceding, here below is one of the first horns built, a student line American Standard.
When White acquired Cleveland in 1925, the trumpet above was transformed with new valve porting and other detail into the Cleveland 603. Many of the original design details remain including the basic wrap and the use of Esbach slides with a retaining ring on the lower leg for Bb/A quick-change. The trim elements such as braces, ferrules and sleeves are streamlined, likely to reduce production costs, but also creating a more modern appearance to the horn. A 1938 Cleveland 603 is below.
The Cleveland Band Instrument Company line-up included a second brand, American Standard. After the H.N. White acquisition, this brand, and the instruments assigned to it, continued for 38 years until rebranded as the Tempo line. Below is an American Standard Model 200 trumpet in its 1938 trim.
The companion instrument to this trumpet was the American Standard Model 205 cornet. While briefly replaced by a stencil cornet in the 1930s, this model, like the 200, came back by 1938.
The Jas. Sistek listed as one of the five founders of Cleveland is James W. Sistek (1881/2-1976), but is often mistaken as his son James J. Sistek Jr. (1909-1970/1). Sistek was the proprietor of a local music store well before joining in the Cleveland Musical Instrument Company.
Sistek Music primarily sold used and new band instruments. Sistek placed classified advertisements in publications such as Billboard Magazine by 1917 and continued doing so through World War Two. The store moved at least twice with addresses on Broadway in Cleveland, first at #4248, then #12912, and finally at #4628 by 1964. James J. Sistek joined his father’s company in 1925 at age 16 and may also have apprenticed as an engraver at H.N. White around that time, or possibly Sistek Music provided engraving services to White as a supplier. James J.’s son, James R. Sistek also joined the firm. Sistek Music had been capitalized at $10,000 while by comparison, Cleveland was capitalized at $25,000.
Although Sistek’s 1917 advertisements were strictly for cornets and trombones, Sistek went on to develop a reputation for trumpets. The Cleveland company was likewise best regarded for its trumpet. The early Sistek trumpets have many parts in common with the Cleveland trumpets made at the 6th street facility such as Holton-like caps and buttons, King style ferrules, and some escutcheons. The first trumpets have bell art that closely matches the 1908-1931 Holton standard bell art. However, this changes to a Cleveland style pattern by #1000. In 1918 Sistek quickly signed the new Metal-workers Union contract undermining Conn, White, Holton and others during the big strike that followed. Possibly raised pro-union, James J. was a member of the American Federation of Musicians as a performer.
Sistek trumpet #264, most likely dating from 1918/9, but possibly from 1926 is below. It has the Holton-inspired bell art, suggesting that Sistek had not yet devised the pattern that went on to mark most pre-HN White Cleveland trumpets. An alternate theory is that the bell art changed to Sistek’s design for Cleveland when White closed that operation down and stopped using it, placing production of Sistek trumpets in the Depression era.
While building trumpets, Sistek manufactured over 5000 units with their own serial number sequence. The subsequent stencil line of six trumpets included “New Wonder”, “New Jewel”, “Artist” and “Soloist”.
There were many small music stores in the early twentieth century that, like HN White a few years before, sought to expand into instrument production. Some of these, as was the case with Frank Holton earlier, built instruments entirely. Others, like McMillin, stenciled their own unique name onto instruments made entirely elsewhere. There was also, however, a common hybrid of these approaches, which was to procure an abundance of the component parts from fabricators and perform final assembly to create a unique product. The horn below is completely supplier-built, as is acknowledged on the bell. It was sold by the Detroit firm of Grinnell Brothers, which became better known for its pianos, that were built exclusively for the store. This is a Perfected-Wonder style cornet, but more along the lines of the wrap adopted by York and Boston. It is interesting in that the Grinnell store was located in the former home of another firm that built cornets, in whole or more likely from an abundance of outsourced parts, Bryant-Newell.
Following World War One, the American economy and instrument sales boomed. The Holton Company saw sales increase steadily and business prospered allowing the payroll to exceed the agreed target in only half of the time allotted and securing the deed to the plant. Manufacture of Revelation trumpets began in 1920, but was not initially announced to the public. Saxophone production had begun in Chicago around 1916, but it was only with the added space in the new plant that Holton was able to ramp up production of the popular new instrument as labor resources returned following the war.
Some old model lines had been cut back in Chicago due to the space crunch, but as the economy rebounded, Holton looked to adding models and features. The old Holton design for a trumpet, basically unaltered since the 1914 shown above, underwent a facelift in 1920 with the relocation of the cumbersome micro-tuner up above the return leg from the tuning slide. To facilitate this, a bulge was cast into the brace of the rear Esbach slide and it served as the forward post for the microtuner. Below is a 1921 which unfortunately has been stripped of its microtuner, and stop rod.
The Holton Revelation was announced publicly in 1921.
With the release of the trumpet below, this is a 1921 example, business at Holton began to return to a new sense of normal. Someone replaced the adjustable ring mount on this horn with a fixed ring that while a Holton part, is placed awkwardly. One button is also not original.
The H.N. White company was converted to wartime production and made few instruments during 1918. Taking advantage of the disruption, the King line was refreshed with new products. While the Master Model cornet and Master Vocal C trumpet continued forward, the Master Model B flat trumpet was replaced by an all new design named to leverage war time patriotism as the Liberty. This was King’s first horn to use the Esbach slides for quick change.
The 1920 advertisement announcing the new trumpet model featured a photographically etched plate instead of the usual line drawing of the product.
Also in 1920, H.N. White recognized the student market openly in the renaming of the horn he was building for McMillin and himself to stencil as the King Junior. The 1924 catalog showed the McMillin Crown brand ferrules for the last time.
McMillin died of a stroke at his desk in his store in 1924 and the Juniors built after that time were assembled with standard King ferrules. A 1935 King Junior is below.
Also in 1920, F.E. Olds was incorporated formally as F.E. Olds & Son in California.
In 1921, the sting instrument maker Roth entered into partnership with Max Scherl to become Scherl & Roth.
That same year, Conn introduced 3 new trumpets (in basic LP and HP/LP variants). These were the .484” bore Concert Grand models 28B/29B, the .453” bore Symphony models 26B/27B and the .438” bore Opera Grand models 24B/25B. A 1928 24B is below.
In 1922, Holton released the second generation of the Revelation trumpet. Harry B. Jay built a Columbia trumpet of similar design by 1913 and yet Holton generally is credited with this design that combined Jay’s reverse leadpipe with an unbraced tuning slide. These horns marked the split between the two families of trumpets today – those of traditional, square radiused, tapered leadpipe, braced, heavier horns with standard tuning slides, and a new family of lighter, brighter, open leadpipe, half-reversed, unbraced, D or single-radius tuning slide equipped horns.
Below is an example of the design eventually mimicked by Martin, Benge, Schilke, Yamaha, Jupiter, Bach, Kanstul and more – a 1924 Holton Revelation with its distinctive bell brace for the reversed slide.
Holton continued to offer the A=453 option for many years after the 1919 finalization of the treaty of Versailles. Below is a HP/LP Revelation from 1925 with the high pitch slide installed. There is no throw ring for third on these horns. The LP third slide is installed on this example.
In Williamsport Pennsylvania in 1922, a band instrument company was established at 643 Elmira Street that chose as its name one of the most commonly stenciled brands in the industry: Imperial. The Imperial Band Instrument Company made a wide variety of instruments in the facility pictured below before relocating across the Susquehanna River to 3 Maynard Street in South Williamsport.
Below is an example of the Imperial product line, an Imperial Bb trumpet from late 1922 or perhaps early 1923 that was made in the facility above.
It is suspected that the workforce for Imperial, if not the investors behind its establishment, came from the Keefer Band Instrument Company (formerly Henry Diston Manufacturing), which was located nearby. Imperial built “Gold Tone” and other instruments until 1935.
In 1922, Vincent Bach incorporated in New York as the Vincent Bach Corporation, still producing mouthpieces and also selling solo music and a method booklet.
1922 also saw the advent of one of Conn’s longest running designs, the 22B New York Symphony model trumpet. It was built from 1922 through 1957 (35 years) with only two design refreshes. Horns after the early 30s utilize a brace across the tuning slide and are not as responsive as the original incarnation of the 22B. A lightweight copper bell version of the 22B New York Symphony was built from 1938 through 1955 as the 12B and as a 22B option, Conn also offered the New York Symphony Special model from 1940 through 1950 which was a heavier, more “Bach Like” version. In 1958, The 22B Victor was released as a replacement.
The 1924 Conn 22B New York Symphony model below with its remarkably small .438 bore is kept from becoming too tight, and thus hard to play in tune, by its lack of bracing while having the carrying power and strong resonance the bore creates. This horn came standard with both an orchestral D-shape tuning slide and concert band optional Bb/A rotary valve slide. The valves on this horn are still remarkably tight after decades of use. Although the tuning slide would become braced in the second generation of the 22B in the 1930s, this feature was found on several Conn models of the 1920s.
A gold-plate 1927 Conn 22b New York Symphony model is also in the collection. The bell engraving is quite detailed and corresponds to a custom ordered professional horn. The original case and A/Bb slide are also intact on this example. It was repaired and modified by Tim Holmes in 2014 for regular use.
In 1923, A.H. Beardslee, the then controlling partner in Buescher Band Instruments, started the Elkhart Band Instrument Company with help from Carl Greenleaf. It was established to build student instruments. Also, E.A. Couturier lost his eyesight, and then his firm to insolvency and acquisition by Lyon & Healy. Finally, Martin also joined the student fray with the H.C. Martin Company all in 1923.
At Conn right after the war, Carl Greenleaf instituted model numbers with the base horn having an even number, such as 4B with the 5B being the same model, but with all of the slides. Conn produced each of its trumpet models in 2 variants: one was a B-flat only horn built in high or low pitch, while the other was available with A, B-flat and a rotary quick change slide as well as a full set of A valve slides in either high or low pitch. Launched in late 1919, the 5B was one of the first such horns and with its 4B companion was a replacement for the older Symphony model trumpet. Below is a 1922 5B.
In 1923 the 4B/5B were cancelled in favor of the 26B/27B which are .453 bore versions of the 22B New York Symphony with its back-swept second valve slide. However, Conn brought the 4B and 5B back from 1926 to 1933 in competition with 5 other styles including the new 2B/3B. This low pitch 5B includes a B-flat slide and both sets of valve slides as well as the rotary.
The 26B/27B were actually introduced in 1921 along with the small bore (.438) Opera Grands. Below is a 1926 26B showing a great deal of wear.
By 1923, Martin added the term “Handcraft” to the bell art on all of their instruments, and “Dansant Model” based on the Symphony but with a back-swept second valve slide late in that year or 1924. The Handcraft branding was meant to turn their financial inability to mechanize to the degree of other firms, such at Conn’s massive factory, into a marketing advantage. An advertising title to this effect is below.
The Dansant Models were intended to appeal to the rapidly growing dance hall market. Below is a 1927 Martin Handcraft Dansant, which was first called the Martin Symphony Dansant Model.
The entire line-up at Martin became “Handcraft” models at this time. While some were newly introduced, many such as the Standard and Superlative models carried over with just the addition of the label. The Martin Imperial cornet below is one of those models, though this example from 1922 is just ahead of the change in name.
Below is a 1932 Martin Handcraft Superlative trumpet. This horn is in gold plating and has extensive bell engraving. It is a presentation instrument that belonged to a Dick Le Mond per the bell rim inscription.
In 1924, the LaPorte facility of E.A. Couturier, having been purchased through the bankruptcy of the firm, began producing the same conical bore instruments, but with the Lyon & Healy name.
At the end of 1924, the HN White Company decided to compete with CG Conn, Rexcraft and York in the Boy Scout bugle market. White, like many others, was aware of the growth of drum and bugle corps and was producing product for them. Supplying a bugle for boy scouts was a logical leveraging of this line. White sought, and received the right to label the bugle as an official BSA product.
Sales of the bugles began in 1925. Below is a period advertisement. They were the most expensive official BSA bugle at the time, and were discontinued after only a few years.
In late 1924, Vincent Bach finally took the drawings he had been making and produced a trumpet that combined much of what he had learned from the Holton he played with some elements more typical of a Besson trumpet. Whatever the outcome, it did not last long before Bach recycled it into another horn with a new serial number. Number 2 survived however and revealed these details.
Within a relatively few horns, Bach refined his design into what essentially is the Bach Stradivarious still manufactured today. His horns made in New York had minor differences in trim and the leadpipes were a little shorted, but they were essentially the same model. Below is one of the last built before Selmer lengthened the leadpipe & slide receivers to better support modern tuning pitch in 1962, a 1962 Mt. Vernon 43 originally sold in lacquer. The throw ring on first and modern gold plating are later changes.
Also in the 1920s, York’s Grand Rapids Band Instrument Company was producing fairly good quality student instruments. An example would be the trumpet shown below which dates from that period.
However, there may have been exceptions. Below is a 1930s York, GBIC, USA Line trumpet. The receiver is replaced and mis-mounted in this photo. Even after repair, this example still played quite poorly.
The Holton Revelation cornet gave way to a replacement model in 1924. The Holton Long Model would be one of Holton’s longest running designs continuing in production through the sale of the company in the 1960s. In the 1930s, the rear brace changed to the “X” design common on Holtons during the period, and the name to the New Professional Model 28. A 1935 Long Model 28 is below.
The lineage of the model 25 is clearly the Revelation cornet. Compare the horn above to the 1914 advertisement for the Revelation below.
Finally, in the mid-1920s, possibly 1926, HN White replaced the Master Model cornet with a Master Model #2. The new version was a B-flat horn only. In the 1920s, Foster Reynolds added the “Silvertone” sterling silver bell to many models which became one of the company’s best known trademarks. Below is a 1941 King Master Model #2 Silvertone (Catalog number 1065S) that was displayed at the University of Michigan’s Hill Auditorium during its 2012-13 centennial season as part of the Stearns Collection’s “Evolution of the Modern Trumpet” exhibit.
Publications such as the Musical Messenger, and Music Trades Review, published regular stories and press releases intended to communicate marketing information to retailers. Below is such a story from the mid-1920s along with the elaborate bell of a 1929 Holton Llewellyn with Deluxe engraving.
The 1920s really began the golden age of C.G. Conn once the Greenleaf changes were in full effect. Below is a chart outlining the professional trumpet models Conn offered from the end of the Conn Era through the end of the Greenleaf Era. The “X” marks denote horns shown in this document.
Boom and Bust
In 1925, Holton expanded the Revelation line with small bore (0.423”) and large bore (0.473”) stock models. The 1925 announcement of this change printed in the magazine Music Trades Review is below.
The Revelation Jazz Hound was designed with a uniquely narrow bell stem taper and a diminutive 3-15/16” bell flare. The horn is lighter in weight and produces a bright, light, at times strident but thin tone with little opportunity for dynamic contrast. It is similar in design to the Conn Opera models of the same time period, but slightly more extreme in all of the unique qualities.
A 1925 Holton Revelation Jazz Hound is pictured below.
The Revelation Cannon Model name was perhaps a little too enthusiastic and in 1928 Holton launched the Llewellyn Model, on which the name of the model was actually engraved. The Cannon was still listed for the last time in 1928 as well. A 1929 Llewellyn Model Revelation is below. This example includes Holton’s only change to piston porting in the valves that were common to all of their cornets and trumpets for 65 years – the first slide ports change from offset to vertically in line in 1927.
Like Bach, who had moved on to other pursuits following the war, so too did the Frank Holton Company. The roaring twenties would soon fund orchestras in many new cities, and Holton, after a couple of years recovery and planning, launched a new marketing program with a new spokesman. The artist Holton chose was Edward Llewellyn, principle trumpet of the Chicago Symphony (below).
Llewellyn’s father James had been 2nd trumpet of the Chicago Symphony 1902 to 1907 and was the first non-German trumpeter there. Edward built a career as a cornet virtuoso first, soloing 76 times at the 1904 World’s Fair alone. Taking on manager duties in 1925, he held the Chicago Symphony post from 1912 until 1933 when dentil problems forced his demotion to 3rd and replacement by Elden Benge as principle. He aggressively sold the new Holton to fellow professionals in the symphony world and, in addition to being their public face, became one of Holton’s best salesmen.
The re-naming was not only a tribute to Llewellyn’s service as a salesman and spokesman, but leveraged the reputation for “Llewellyn specials”, horns built to order for professional acquaintances of Llewellyn that he had sold over the years. It also, probably not coincidentally, coincided with the retirement of Gustav Heim and the Holton Klatzkin Model, named for trumpeter, and first teacher of notables such as Herb Alpert and Earl Murray, Benjamin Klatzkin, which never saw production in any significant quantity.
At the same time, Holton was still building traditional non-reversed, braced trumpets as well. The Esbach slides continued in use for quick-change from B flat to A on these horns, with the front slide serving that function via the under-mounted stop rod as on all such horns since 1914. As with the 1920 design, the micro-tuner actuated the rear slide via the brace. What was unique about this model was that the slides were not nested inside one another, but rather end to end with a much larger intermediate section than had been used previously. Below is a 1926 example minus the microtuner.
Interestingly, the pinkie hook on this example does not appear to be an afterthought. It is possible that it has been on the horn since it was first made. This model does not appear in the surviving catalogs and Harmony Hints, only the Revelation models do.
In 1925 or 1926, Holton produced a small number of Revelations with a standard construction leadpipe and slide as well as a first slide saddle in place of the usual throw on third. These bore the name of Benjamin Klatzkin, who may have been sold them. Below is a .460” 1926 Holton Klatzkin Model. The sole mention of these horns was in a 1926 edition of Harmony Hints in which a letter from conductor Fritz Reiner was reprinted in which it was stated that he had enjoyed Klatzkin’s sound and, upon inquiry, learned that Klatzkin had designed that particular Holton model. A 1926 Klatzkin model is below.
In Graslitz Bohemia, the Keilwerth family brass instrument workshop was established.
After service in World War I, Julius Keilwerth (1894 – 1962) worked as a woodwind craftsman for V.F. Kohlert. In 1920, his father Johann (b.1873), who had worked for several Bohemian instrument makers in Graslitz, began building clarinets at home along with his sons Julius, Max, Richard and Joseph. In 1925, Julius Keilwerth Co. incorporated and moved into the factory shown at right where it remained throughout World War II.
In 1946, the newly created Czechoslovakia, which was mostly made up of Slavic populations, forcibly evicted the German populations from Bohemia and Moravia seizing the land and property for expansion of the Slavic race. Bohemia had been the musical instrument center of Europe for centuries, but all of the craftsmen who were of Germanic tradition were dispossessed without any advance warning, being allowed to flee with only a maximum of 110 pounds of luggage. The communist government then merged all of the seized entities into the Amati cooperative and renamed the town of Graslitz as Kraslice. This ended the production of quality instruments in Bohemia.
Vincent Bach’s fledgling company took a step forward in 1925 when Bach began building his “Stradivarius” trumpet in New York. In Cleveland, HN White bought the Cleveland Band Instrument Company, but did not immediately convert it to student instrument production, preferring to use instruments like his King Junior and stencils in that market.
In Boston in the mid-twenties, Vega was building trumpets such as the Power Model and the Chas E. George model in its later 1915 patent version – the original having been patented in 1910. These were light, generally smaller trumpets, though the Power Model was available in a fairly large bore and the George in a variety of bores. A small bore 1922 Vega George is below.
The Vega label was also applied to both manufactured and stenciled cornets. The Vega cornets of this period were of excellent quality for the affordable price at which they sold.
Relocated to 51 Chardon Street after the 1899 fire, Boston had deteriorated in reputation, sales and quality. It appears that the Cundy-Bettony looked to invest in new product, but to cut costs at the same time. Progressive outsourcing of components may have been a part of this strategy.
The Boston 3-Star Model No. 11 trumpet in medium bore below is what appears to be a serious attempt at a trumpet product, however on close examination, the trim belies a lack of Boston crafting. This horn was built sometime in the 1920s, and by the serial number, is near the end of Boston production, or at least final assembly. Catalog excerpts for the same are below that.
By 1925, the firm was all but gone. Cundy-Bettony Publishing continued trying to remake the firm, but the strategy did not work. Boston sales had tapered off to near nothing – as had the workforce from all appearances.
In 1923, Boston was making the trumpet design pictured below.
By 1925, the same trumpet model was still available, but the valve block, caps, buttons, spit key and lyre mount all showed that something significant had changed.
The Boston trumpet above was made sometime in the mid to late 1920s, but contrary to the claim on the bell, was probably not made directly by Boston employees. Boston horns carried serial numbers on the second valve casing after 1882 and numbered the casings as well 1,2,3. This horn has no serial number and the casings are numbered in the European style with high double digit numbers corresponding to dies. Such markings were common on horns made by Bohemian stencil fabricators. Interestingly, Boston horns in general did not make much use of Henry Esbach’s 1889 patent for nested slides while the rest of the industry embraced it. This horn is an exception.
Around the same time, J.W. York in Grand Rapids was building the trumpet below. Like most of this time, it uses the Esbach nested slides for quick-change between B-flat and A with a retaining ring like the Boston stencil above. Another feature of this top=line York horn that appeared on many competitors at the same time was the lack of a receiver. The leadpipe is machined to take the mouthpiece directly.
In 1926, Conn released one of it’s most popular trumpet models, the 2B New World Symphony. Below is a Conn 2B from 1928 which is in excellent shape except for scoring on the replated pistons indicating it was in flood waters. It became available after the East Coast hurricane Sandy of 2012 and perhaps is one more legacy of that storm. In 1931, this model sold for $110 while the 22B New York Symphony .438 bore horns sold for $95. The finish is a bronze metallic lacquer that appears to be original. As a top line horn, this one was well cared for until the flood and still has some compression in spite of the deep scoring around every piston at the waterline.
Also in 1926, Andrew Hubble Beardslee, who had purchased Buescher in 1916 and founded Elkhart in 1924, recognizing the need to leverage the resources of a professional company to build low-margin student horns cost-effectively, sold control of Buescher to Elkhart. By the1920s, the company had won over many artists with semi-custom horns, particularly saxophones – Buescher being believed to be the first American manufacturer of these instruments. Gus Buescher resigned from his post as vice-President and General Manager in 1929, though he remained as a consulting engineer, until his death in 1937.
Below is a 1922 Buescher TrueTone Low Pitch model 10 trumpet in its case. This is a professional horn of the type the company built prior to its sale to Elkhart and uses Esbach A/Bb slides for quick change.
Being the professional division of a student line instrument company poisoned the market for Buescher trumpets and the company declined in favor among professionals through the depression. After World War II, even the saxophones began to be seen as only intermediate due not only to this association with Elkhart, but to an ongoing lack of reinvestment in new and improved product.
Beardsley failed to anticipate the consequences of subordinating Buescher to Elkhart in general, but the move proved especially unwise in the years that immediately followed with the onset of the Great Depression. Just before the economy failed, Elkhart expanded into competition with Buescher, releasing its first trumpet model in 1928.
Below is a 1932 example of the Elkhart trumpet.
In 1927, the H&A Selmer Stores were sold by the founders to George Bundy at the same time that Selmer purchased the assets of Adolph Sax. By this time, Selmer stores were in major cities around the world, such as the London store below. Carl Greenleaf established Leedy, and also in that same year, Verne Q. Powell flutes was founded. While not a trumpet maker, Powell would later be instrumental in the survival of E.K. Blessing and in partnership with Blessing and Blackburn. At the beginning of the next year, William and Howard Lyons founded the Lyon Band Instrument Company.
After building cornets and trumpets with the same valves for decades, in 1927 Holton redesigned the valves. None of the models changed otherwise, which is similar to what happened at HN White around 1910-1912 with the introduction of the potentially Foster Reynolds-designed “Improved Model” valves and corresponding instruments, except that White then launched new models as well. Below is a 1931 LP New Revelation trumpet, which shows the change in valve porting clearly at first valve with the formerly off-set ports now vertically aligned.
In 1928, OP Basset, Fred Holtz, and James H. State incorporated the Indiana Band Instrument Company as a subsidiary of Martin to build inexpensive horns using old designs.
The first Indiana Band Instrument Company instruments featured an Indian head logo on the bell, and were more ornate in their engraving than is typical of student line instruments.
Below is an example of the first generation of Indiana trumpets. This horn is nickel plated as opposed to silver, and was made in 1940. There were no corners cut or unusual quirks to the wrap. This is a typical standard trumpet design and includes the option of quick change to A as well.
By 1928, the American economy was in a bubble, and bubbles have a dependable tendency to burst. Just as it was poised to, a new trend in trumpet design swept the market – a streamlined and sleek looking horn called a “pea-shooter”.
Conn, like Holton and Martin, also played to the dance hall market starting in the 1920s. By the Depression, the pea-shooter style had become popular. These horns were generally smaller bore to medium bore horns, were longer than the classic Besson wrap, and had less room between the upper and lower tubing for the fingers of the left hand. For that reason, these are generally described as “one up, three down” horns – a reference to the fingers of the left hand..
Conn sold their pea-shooters under the “New Era Trumpet” name with the 58B small bore and the 10B medium bore models from 1928 to 1938. These were bottom-sprung with problematic guides that had to be rotated and pushed down into the casing against the spring pressure while attempting to get the cap started. These sold in the middle of the professional model price range at $100.
Below is a 1932 Conn New Era 10B.
For the student market, where fads tended to be their hottest, Conn sold pea-shooters under the Pan American name. Many of these were sold for stencil by stores and under made-up brand names. The quality of construction in most pea-shooters is typically poor, and the major makers, while wanting to exploit the market, tended to distance themselves and their valued names from these instruments.
Below is the primary Pan-American pea-shooter, a 1928 Conn, Pan-American, Cavalier.
H.N. White stenciled a peashooter called the Student Prince for the student market. It is no accident that the King name appears no-where on the example below. This horn is a low quality instrument in every respect and is a surprising product from White, whose student line horns had traditionally been among the better options available.
Another HN White pea-shooter of this period was the slightly higher end Cleveland Greyhound. The lines of the Greyhound are extremely long and low, and the design includes a visual link to the high-end Liberty trumpet with the unusual bracing behind the tuning slide.
The bell of the Greyhound is elaborately engraved at a level not far from that of the King brand.
The firm of C. Bruno and Sons entered the pea-shooter market with stencils as well. These were sold under the Henry Pourcell name which Bruno trademarked in 1924.
Below is an example of one of C. Bruno & Son’s last stencil trumpets, and also one of the last made in the Bohemian tradition. This horn is marked Czechoslovakia on the receiver. The name Czechoslovakia vanished in 1938 with the occupation by Nazi Germany, as did the American and British markets for Bohemian horns. After World War II, the Bohemian companies lost most of their craftsmen when the region was ethnically cleansed of Germans as part of re-establishing Czechoslovakia as a Slavic state.
As noted, stenciling of pea-shooters was commonplace, and perhaps the bulk of the market for this fad. Below is a classic example, although in somewhat battered condition, a Sears Marceau.
At the high end of the scale, Martin introduced a professional level pea-shooter called the Martin Handcraft Troubador. Like their Handcraft Dansant traditional trumpet, this horn was still primarily targeting the dance hall market. A 1931 Troubador is below.
One interesting stencil of the 1920s was made by Vega, which was a trumpet sold under the name Odell. Presumably this is a reference to the former owners of the Standard Band Instrument Company Thompson & Odell, which ceased to exist when Vega absorbed the band instrument division in 1909 (the publishing house had been sold to Carl Fischer around 1900). Below is the “ODELL, Vega Co. Boston” trumpet with a unique lacquer over copper finish.
Of course, after the stock market crashed and the runs on the banks closed many, the bottom fell out of instrument sales. All of the manufacturers were forced to contract and restructure.
Carl Greenleaf folded the Pan American venture back into Conn in 1929, continuing the name and particularly the serial number series on stencil product well into the Depression. Pan-American initially built obsolete Conn designs such as the Esbach-slide utilizing pre-WWI Symphony.
To preserve a unique image for the brand name, Conn stripped stencils of Pan American trim such as tuning slide pull loops and the wide detailed Conn valve casing turnings.
Below is such a Pan-American 30B from the mid-1920s stenciled for sale by a music store. In this example, valve slide braces are also omitted. The Pan-American version of this horn gained a third slide throw ring around 1930.
Below is a Pan American not recycled from Conn designs. It achieves a shorter overall length than the classic Besson inspired trumpet design by wrapping the bell lead around on itself and adding in a slide. This slide is the actual tuning slide while the one in front is outfitted with a stop-rod for re-pitching the horn in A. In spite of the fairly poor performance characteristics of the horn, this particular one appears to have been modified with a cornet mouthpiece receiver and was probably used in a 30s club setting.
In Boston, Cundy Bettony shut down the Boston Musical Instrument Company, though the actual dissolution of the firm did not happen on the books until March 23, 1955.
In LaPorte, Lyon and Healy decided to abandon the manufacture of Band Instruments and focus on harps as a manufactured product. At first, Frank Holton saw the onset of the Great Depression as an opportunity, and purchased the former Couturier operations from Lyon & Healy to use for production of a new student line, the Holton Collegiate. Below is an example of the first trumpet sold under the Collegiate name, a Holton Collegiate Model 172. This 1931 example has suffered some damage, but still shows the construction of the horn including the third valve porting unique to LaPorte Collegiates.
After several years, Holton’s sales would slump with the rest of the American business community and, with excess capacity in Elkhorn, there would be no choice but to shut down the LaPorte facility and consolidate Collegiate production in Wisconsin.
H.N. White began selling the Silvertone sterling silver bell around 1928. Despite the economics of the Great Depression, it would be a popular option. Below is a rare such King 1078 Bb bugle from the period.
That year, White also introduced one of the last of the true shepherds-crook cornets in the form of the King Commander. The low pitch only horn also included another soon to be obsolete feature, a rotary quick-change valve to re-pitch the Bb horn in A. This last was an option.
Below is a 1936 King Commander, the last year of manufacture for this model.
An example without A/Bb valve from Robb Stewart below.
The King Commander bears a striking resemblance to another horn that was introduced by Martin in the later part of the 1920s (prior to the 1928 release of the Commander). That was the Martin New Master Cornet. The innovative technology common to these horns was the placement of the A/Bb rotary quick-change valve. Such valves had been in use installed in tuning slides or mid-leadpipe for at least 75 years, but they added resistance and affected the tone by creating another region of turbulence in the raceway. Each interruption to the smooth bore profile caused turbulence, which in turn sapped energy and distorted the sound wave fronts. Each turbulent zone required a distance afterward before becoming laminar again. The advantage of this placement is that the zone becomes combined with the valve body. A 1927 Martin New Master cornet is below.
The Martin New Master line was one of the most obscure of Martins many instrument families. Existing only in the late twenties, it appears that few of these were made or sold. They did however predate the King Commander, and with White’s history of lifting design elements from others, particularly Holton, it is probable that the Commander was no exception. Perhaps White looked to Martin for the first time in this instance because of the name Martin had chosen – New Master. The only old Master Model product line was White’s King Master Model cornet, and the Master Model C Convertible Trumpet (which was based on the pre-WWI King Master Model Trumpet). Perhaps This was a mutual exchange, or pirating, of each other’s ideas. Below is the other Martin New Master, the Trumpet.
The bells of both New Master horns do not match the lacquered brass body. These are German Silver (cupro-nickel) and when lacquered, would have made the New Masters visually resemble White’s King Silvertone series – without the cost of a solid sterling silver bell.
By this time, the Raoux-Millereau company in Paris had been building Besson-inspired trumpets for some time. The company, however, was not successful in marketing them, and volume was quite low. Below is a Millereau trumpet from somewhere in the 1915-1925 window. Note the resemblance to the Selmer trumpets of the 1930s and the forward position of the valves, which foreshadows the Selmer balanced models. The banner below is from the turn of the century, prior to their relocation.
The expansion of Holton with the Collegiate line in 1928 initially continued with the addition of more unique artist-linked trumpets in an effort to attract more sales against the market trend of the time. In addition to the Klatzkin and Llewellyn models, it appears that a Heim model was at least considered (there is an example at the National Music Museum from the Holton Factory Reference Collection), and a unique model that foreshadowed the Model 45 and Model 48 design of 1938/9 with its single radius tuning slide and other features was also built in partnership with Joseph Gustat, which sold in 1930-31. Gustat, however, left Holton and partnered with C.G. Conn in 1931 to release the Conn 8B Gustat. The other unique artist-linked model of this period was the 1929-1931 Don G. Berry model. This was a very lightweight New Revelation, and was the largest bore regular production trumpet, with a .485” bore. A 1929 Berry is pictured below along with the bell art typical of the artist-linked New Revelation models.
In 1928, F.E. Olds, while vacationing on the liner S.S. City of Los Angeles, died suddenly from a heart attack and was buried at sea. It fell to son Reginald Birdsall Olds to introduce the new line of cornets and trumpets they had been working on in 1929. The 1932 “Standard” cornet below is one of these designs.
Prior to the Great Depression, instrument sales had boomed and instruments were available through every major retail chain. Below is an interesting stencil cornet from this period. It was made in France, as noted on the receiver, and is stenciled “Orpheum New York” on the bell. The Orpheum Theater in New York was quite famous at the time and probably is the inspiration for the marking. This unique double-loop front cornet does not resemble any others known to the author. It is marked on the back of second valve with the number 2, as part of a 1-2-3 sequence on the valves and then a “B” up high. At the bottom, it is marked “25” and then “B” again. Presumably one “B” is for Bb pitching, the other may be a bore code, model, or finish code. The “25” is either a model number, or a very low serial number. The author was unable to identify where this was sold originally or when.
The Great Depression
Vincent Bach’s company, being small, might easily have failed, but seems to have been “right-sized” for the downturn. In 1928, Bach opened a facility in the Bronx, horns from which can be recognized by the postal code 67 marked after New York on the bells. Only 10,500 instruments were produced at that plant in 25 years, reflecting both the market of the Depression and World War II, and the semi-custom nature of the product built there.
The Depression affected Europe as well as the United States. In London in 1930, Boosey & Co. elected to merge with Hawkes & Son creating the firm Boosey & Hawkes. Ultimately it would prove a very prosperous union.
In Boston, Vega scaled back operations and transitioned to more stenciling. However, the horns stenciled were generally of good quality from firms such as Buescher and Martin.
There were those who, like Holton, saw the potential for opportunity in the downturn. In 1930, Carl Greenleaf acquired Ludwig & Ludwig, renaming the firm the Ludwig Percussion Division of C.G. Conn Ltd. Donald Artley founded the Artley flute company. Also, in Taipei, Tsu-Cheng Hsieh established Wan Wu, which would eventually become Jupiter. Also in 1931, William Teasdale Armstrong established his woodwind company, showing optimism in the face of ongoing economic problems.
In 1931, the Francois Millereau company succumbed to economic forces and was purchased by Henri Selmer. MIllereau worked for Besson before starting his own firm in 1861. Selmer immediately began producing trumpets that would challenge the Bessons in the mid Twentieth Century. In 1953, Selmer introduced the “K-modified” variations with enhanced leadpipe and bell tapers to improve response, intonation and control. Below is the first generation of Besson/Raoux/Millereau inspired Selmers, a Low Pitch, Medium Bore #20 made in 1938, which other than a stuck 2nd second slide, is in excellent shape.
Along with the new line of trumpets, Selmer began building top-end cornets as well. Production of these began, and remained, very limited with only about 125 built each year starting by 1932 and running into the 1960s. These horns used the body of Selmer trumpets and carried the same detailed bell markings.
Corresponding to the Gran Prix Artist trumpet shown above is the matching 1936 cornet here below.
This cornet unfortunately has suffered considerable damage to the bell, but is otherwise intact and playable in its current condition.
Also in 1931, HN White introduced a new cornet. The leadpipe and tuning slide wrap of this horn was similar in nature to the Holton Revelation and the 1930s Olds Super model cornet. At Holton, this design became the Model 25 at the end of the decade, but appeared in its modern form around the same time as the Olds making it unclear which of the two nearly identical horns came first. The King design, albeit somewhat different from the newer Holton and Olds designs, was clearly also patterned on the basic concept of the Holton Revelation with its small forward tuning slide that traces its roots to the 1906 Holton New Proportion that became the Couturier and then Clarke models.
Below is a 1938 King New Professional long model cornet in gold plate which was purchased from the collection of Robb Stewart. The only King of this style, it was built until World War II.
Finally, in 1931, Fred A. Holtz, a former circus bandsman, was named President of the Martin Company.
The ongoing impact of the crisis in Europe resulted in changes at Besson in 1932 with the acquisition of the French firm by Strasser Margaux & Lemaire.
By 1932, the Holton Revelation was heavily updated. Below is a 1933 3rd generation Revelation, the Holton Model 30 New Professional Trumpet. By catalog, this is a .461” bore but measures .459”.
Below is a 1932 .473” bore third generation Revelation New Professional Model 50 Symphony.
A “00” Model 42 was built in .423” in 1932 (&’33?) and a 00-1/4 Model 46 in .442” through 1935 or 36.
During this time, the catalog was the Holton Revelation Band Instrument catalog, and the Revelation trumpets were “New Professional” models. On Brass lacquer versions, such as those above, “Revelation” or “Symphony” was engraved, but on the silver plated versions, “Professional” was engraved in a unique bell crest as on the example Model 30 from 1934 below.
In 1933, HN White ended production of the King Liberty after over a dozen years and replaced it with the Liberty #2. Though still designated model 1050 and retaining the Esbach quick-change nested slides for changing from B-flat to A, this was a substantially different, and less costly, horn with bottom-sprung valves. It was, however, available with professional options such as the Silvertone sterling silver bell. A 1935 Liberty #2 Silvertone with King’s elaborate Art-Deco bell crest is below.
In the early 1930s, Martin introduced another line of brass dubbed “Imperial”. The first Imperial trumpet fore-shadowed the 1939 Martin Committee, and it is unclear whether the Committee was an attempt to produce a better Imperial, or the Imperial signaled a new fundamental design concept at Martin which was subsequently seen even in student subsidiary Indiana brand trumpets. Below is a 1936 Martin Handcraft Imperial.
From 1932 through 1937/8, Holton also built a pea-shooter model to compete with the Conn New Era and similar models. It featured professional level trim and bore the revelation name on the bell, but the bottom-sprung valve assembly was that of an Ideal. Below is a 1935 Holton Revelation Model 32 New Professional Streamline peashooter trumpet. The bore measures an unusual .453”.
From 1934 to 1937/8 Holton built a version of the 1930s Revelation with a reinforced decorated bell rim called the Model 34 Resotone. These horns appear to have been aimed at a dance hall market and are bright and directional. Below is a 1937 Resotone which, other than the stop rod, is completely intact.
Note the double half-circle wire brace and long receiver. The lesser-grade red lining of the flood ruined original case is at right with a back view of the Resotone.
The Holton Resotone trumpet was complimented by a Resotone version of the former Model 28. Unlike the Stratodyne cornet, one of the two forms of which was a Model 28/Model 25 design with the Stratodyne bell, the Resotone cornet utilized a yellow brass two-piece bell, the seam from which can be seen in the following example photographs.
The Model 24 Resotone below dates from 1937.
The new Holton valve caps and trim of the 30s appeared across all models early in the period.
The bell art on the lacquer Resotone models was unique, modern, and fairly abstract. It I s stylistically in keeping with the other new bell art of the period, that being the ray-burst design developed for the Stratodyne trumpets.
The Model 25, which replaced the Model 24 Resotone in 1939, was a renaming and minor tweaks to what had been the Long Model cornet from 1924 to 1931 and the Model 28 from 1932 to 1936. Below is a Holton Model 25, a name applied in 1939 when the leadpipe to bell rear brace was restored to a “Z” type from the 1930s “X”. This is a 1947 with a unique bell crest.
On the student side, from 1934 through 1937, Holton actually launched another brand name. This was the Ideal line, and consisted of the Model 400 cornet, Model 405 trumpet, and Model 410 trombone. The idea was to capture more market share through another brand, however, Collegiate customers associated the instruments directly with Holton, due to the prominent placement of the Holton name on them – and the same was true for Ideal. The sales simply took away from Collegiate and the models were rebranded in 1938.
Below is a 1938 Collegiate that is a Model 400 Ideal.
At H.N. White, the issues of the Great Depression had forced a consolidation of all of the brands, and the shut-down of the Cleveland manufacturing facility, moving all Cleveland and American Standard production into the King plant, or stenciling. White, unlike most manufacturers, did not back-off from new model introductions and maintain a full line-up of offerings. In 1937, this included launching the Cleveland 603-T Toreador version of the Cleveland trumpet. Below is a 1956 example of this long-running model.
The original form of the Toreador did not have a throw ring on third. That feature was added after World War Two.
Not every manufacturer was willing, or able, to continue forward without reducing offerings as White had. Some drastically restructured their product portfolio.
In 1930-33, C.G. Conn cancelled many of the professional trumpet designs including all in this table:
These were all replaced with the Symphony Special trumpet, the 8B. This horn began a succession of instruments that stretches to current production. The 8B ran from 1932 to 1940, It was followed by the 2B Symphony Special which ran from 1940 to 1951. In 1949 a .438 bore version, the 28B was released, but only ran until 1955 when the bore was restored to .453 and the number changed to 38B. In 1958, a lightweight 36B was added. The 28B, 38B and 36B were all sold as “Connstellation”s.
In the student lines, Conn continued producing Pan American models for sale both under that name and, with some de-contenting, for sale stenciled to department and music stores.
Below is a unique example of this. It is a Pan American Stencil of the model 31A for the JW Harwood stores, which was loosely based on the 18B trumpet, but without a rotary valve for key change and significantly different trim details from those used on a an instrument bearing the Pan American name.
The F.E. Olds Company during its first decades in operation had been very dynamic in terms of introducing, replacing, and changing models. Names that came and went included the Standard (both cornet and trumpet), the Military models, the French model, and Symphony. Eventually, the trumpet and cornet models dubbed Special and Super evolved. The Special was Olds mainstream product, while the Super was their top of the line all-around horn. In the later years of the Great Depression, Olds overhauled the designs of these models they had focused on and added the Super-Recording variant. The Super-Recording, as the name implies, was designed to project more for those applications where getting the sound to the listener, or microphone, was critical. The primary professional models however, were the Olds Supers and a 1938 Olds Super Trumpet with the distinctive, central-Europe-inspired, “Olds Tone Ring”, is pictured below.
By 1936, optimism began to take hold in the industry. Sales declines leveled and additional investors began seeking opportunity in band instruments. Below is a graph of sales of professional band instruments showing the impact and leveling of the Depression as well as the subsequent impact of the Second World War. These numbers do not include student lines which were expanding through the 30s.
The devastating effect on sales of Buescher becoming a subsidiary of a student maker in 1926 is also clearly apparent in the above graph.
One of these to risk investing was Foster A. Reynolds (above), who in 1936, after 3 decades with H.N. White, entered into partnership with his brother Harper and Max Scherl of Scherl & Roth to produce trumpets and cornets under the Reynolds name.
Reynolds was generally considered the driving force behind White products such as the Silvertone line of sterling bells, and the Liberty and Super-20 trumpet lines. Reynolds also played a key role in the Master Model cornet, which was one of HN White’s greatest commercial successes. Reynolds had learned the trade as an apprentice at J.W. York & Sons in Grand Rapids prior to his 1904 move to HN White.
A 1939 Reynolds trumpet is below which bears a surprising resemblance to the Holton Revelation designs of the period. Following Reynolds departure from his firm after the war, the new owners would shift to more standard, braced trumpet designs.
Also in 1936, Pan American returned as a Conn brand name after being idled briefly. Elkhart Band Instruments did the same at Buescher, and Blessing reincorporated as E.K. Blessing Band Instrument Company, shortening the name.
Early optimists, or perhaps just bored after being removed from the companies that they had built, Harry Pedler and Gus Buescher incorporated ART Musical Instruments in 1932. When Buescher died in 1937, this became Harry Pedler and Sons. A circa 1950 Pedler American Triumph trumpet is below.
Harry Pedler was a London-born and trained woodwind maker, who specialized in metal clarinets. His thick-wall German Silver clarinets are said to produce distinct tonal characteristics relative to the lighter double-wall construction of other clarinets (though at the expense of considerable weight). Pedler was recruited to C.G. Conn by William Gronert in 1905. When Gronert left Conn, Pedler joined him in creating American Manufacturing to make woodwinds. When Gronert died, the firm became Harry Pedler & Co., however the controlling interest passed to the Martin company. Pedler resigned in 1931, and shortly thereafter established ART with Buescher. Harry Pedler and sons remained active, producing Buescher designed brass and Pedler designed woodwinds until 1958, when Pedler’s son, Harry having died in 1950, sold the brass works to Selmer.
Joining the optimists, William F Ludwig founded WFL Drums in late 1936 or 1937. William Ludwig had been involved in design during the Ludwig brothers partnership and his role as a designer at Conn had not met his expectations. It also appears that the decision he and his brother made to sell to Conn earlier in the decade did not sit well with him and he correctly believed that opportunity existed to re-enter the market with new products.
He is generally credited with having pioneered the G-D combination bugle for drum & bugle corps use. The story is that he was in France for the ten year reunion of the American Expeditionary Force and saw a Bersaglieri (invented before 1888) B-flat to F single valve bugle and realized the advantage of modifying a G bugle with a D valve. In 1927, while still with the original Ludwig firm, William Ludwig contracted the William Frank Company to build these horns for Ludwig to stencil. W.F.L became a significant manufacturer in the niche market of drum & bugle corps products as well as a significant percussion manufacturer.
Below is an example of the WFL Drums single-valve bugle.
However, there is a single valve bugle that has called this generally accepted story into question. Shown below, this is a classic single-valve bugle of the type generally attributed to Ludwig.
The issue is that this bugle is marked “L&S” on the bell and is believed by some to be made by the firm of S.R. Leland and Son, which operated from 1839 until 1915. The horn is not inconsistent with construction of the mid-teens, however, that same consistency reaches into the 1930s. In any case, it is an interesting example of a bugle suitable for the first American Legion contests during the Depression.
S.R. Leland & Son was a regional brand based in a music store in Worcester Massachusetts. Regional brands based in stores were often stencils, though some like Leland were actually manufactured. Julius Bauer’s Chicago operation manufactured instruments in the shops of Bauers in Bohemia and then stenciled them with the J. Bauer name for US sale. Lyon and Healy (another Chicago mega-store) got into and out of the manufacturing business at least twice with regard to brasswinds. Carl Fischer had sold brass both under the manufacturer’s name and stenciled to Fischer for decades and by this time was venturing into investing in brass makers such as York. And in St. Louis, the big music store from that region, Ludwig’s Music House, sold a line of instruments branded “Standard” that appear to have been stencils, but are unique in their designs and thus may have been of the supplier-built variety like those of Julius Bauer. Below is a Ludwig Standard trumpet from around this time.
In 1937, H.N. White added a new trumpet to the Liberty line, actually two if one counts the large bore version separately. The Liberty 2-B was introduced as a .458” bore “modern” trumpet. It did not have any provision for tuning in A, and used unique, lower-cost valves that did not require a spring-box. Like the bottom-sprung Liberty #2, this horn appears to have been designed firstly to reduce manufacturing costs. From 1937 through 1941, a 3-B model was also available, which was the same horn built in a .468” bore. The 2-B remained in production with one refresh through the 1965 sale of the company. A 1947 Liberty 2-B is below.
Throughout most of the 1930s, Conn had also been building what was billed as a professional trumpet, and priced accordingly, but like the pea-shooters, using bottom-sprung valves. That model also was without a bell rim bead which Conn called the “vocabell”. In 1937, that somewhat pea-shooter-like model, the 40B Connqueror, was replaced by the 48B Connqueror with a taller wrap. A 1937 is below.
This example is a bit battered, but is still complete and shows the unique styling elements of these horns including the faceted Greek-column-like valve casings and the encapsulated streamliner spit keys.
During the 1920s, the double front loop design that first appeared in the Holton Revelation in 1914 had become quite popular. Yet another example of this design was the Martin Standard cornet, which appeared in this form briefly in the late 1930s. Below is a 1938 example.
Another optimist during these times was Elden Benge who incorporated in 1939.
Edward Llewelyn, previously the principle trumpet in Chicago and Holton road man, was killed in 1936 while traveling in Texas. His car, driven by his wife, struck a truck ahead of him and overhanging pipes came through the windshield. Elden Benge (left) had replaced him as principle in Chicago three years earlier when his teeth had to be removed.
With the help of neighbor Renold Schilke, Benge started to build Besson-style trumpets with Holton influences in his basement and became a low volume producer of artist level horns. The first horns were modifications of mostly, if not entirely, older F.Besson trumpets. Benge then expanded into producing all-original horns by the end of the 1930s.
Benge retired from the Symphony, leaving his slot to Schilke, and left Chicago in 1938, moving to Burbank to better deal with crippling arthritis which left him stooped and unable to look over his shoulder while driving. In Burbank he converted the garage behind his home into a workshop where a small group of skilled craftsmen, including a young Zigmant Kanstul moonlighting from his job as Foster Reynolds apprentice in the 1950s, worked building Benge trumpets in their mature form.
In Burbank, the workshop behind his home produced significant numbers of artist level horns. His arthritis, and the inability to turn his head to the rear, led to his 1960 death in a car accident in front of his California home and workshop, after which his son Donald moved the firm to the back of Lockie Music in Los Angeles. In 1972, King Musical Instruments bought Benge and moved it to the Anaheim factory that is today the home of Kanstul. Below is a horn built in the first year in Anaheim, with Kanstul having left Olds to join the expanding Benge, but before production fully ramped-up.
Donald Benge, in an eerie coincidence, also died in a car wreck in 2007.
Benge was also known for the response to his letter to Herbert L. Clarke in which the legendary cornet player was blunt about his dislike for trumpets. That letter is pictured below.
When Elden Benge left Chicago, his place in the symphony was filled by long time Chicago trumpeter and former Holton employee Renold Schilke (1910 – 1982). Schilke (below) was labeled a child prodigy on cornet, though actually a bit old for the designation, and was a featured act with the Holton Elkhorn Band. Spending time in the Holton factory, Schilke learned the skills to be an accomplished machinist by his teens. He also learned the art of brass instrument making and the trade of gunsmithing in the same way, through the voluntary tutoring of workers in the Holton plant.
In particular, Schilke learned about mouthpieces and their manufacture, setting the stage to one day become the leading mouthpiece maker.
In 1927, Schilke spent a year in Belgium studying acoustics and the theories of eighteenth century instrument designer and acoustical scientist Victor Mahillon. His interest in physics and music would define his career and his contribution to brass instruments.
By 1938, Schilke had made a name for himself at Holton as well as through his playing in the Great Lakes region. When the Martin company set out to create a new professional trumpet design, they drew upon the best ideas and advice of all of the lead designers for the competition (thus the name “Committee”), but ultimately it was Schilke who was retained to do the heavy lifting of design. The result was a horn patterned on the Holton Revelation, but with a number of key differences that were largely the result of Schilke’s early research.
There is a popular myth, that the Committee was designed by a workgroup of all of the great designers of the day. Viewed rationally, one may easily recognize that these designers were competitors and would have had no motivation to improve the design of Martin’s product. Their input, rather, was as it had been with the first Martin trumpet that included elements from leading makers, a matter of reverse-engineering the competition. In truth, Renold Schilke was the only designer on the actual team.
According to a December 1940 advertisement in Ovation Magazine, the members of the actual Committee were: Fred Berman ("popular radio staff star, probably the busiest trumpet player and teacher in Boston.), Otto Kurt Schmeisser, (formerly with the Boston and Detroit Symphony Orchestras, later a successful teacher in Detroit), Jimmy Neilson, Band Director and Instrumental Instructor, Oklahoma City University - an outstanding trumpet and cornet artist), Dana Garrett, formerly cornet soloist of the Sousa Band - then first trumpet, Capitol Theatre, Washington, D.C., Renold Schilke, one of the most highly skilled artists in America, first trumpet with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra), and Charlie Spivak (rated "tops" by everybody who knows – then heading his own fine combination)
Schilke’s input dominated with an eye toward improving the Holton that he played. The leadpipe and bell taper make a uniquely responsive and in-tune instrument, but the basic design of the Committee is that of a Holton Revelation.
In 1938, Frank Holton, seeing his company pulling out of the rough times, decided that at 81, perhaps a man didn’t have to go to work every day anymore. He sold the company, but not to anyone, rather to Fred Kull, a trusted employee who would continue to run the firm as Holton intended. Frank Holton passed-away just 4 years later on April 16th, 1942. Kull then died Dec.7 1944 and was succeeded by his son Grover.
That same year, HN White began selling the King Junior as a Cleveland model, indicating that the transition of Cleveland to a student line was complete by this time. Below is the last form of the former Imperial, a 1938-41 Cleveland 601 cornet.
Cleveland and American Standard were briefly stenciled onto supplier built horns during the Depression. The Cleveland 601 was an exception. By the end of the decade, White had introduced both a new cornet and a new trumpet built in-house. Below is a 1965 Cleveland 600-B trumpet first released in the 1930s.
The companion cornet was dubbed the Cleveland 601-B, though its design bore no resemblance to the 601. Below is a 1965 Cleveland 601-B cornet. Both models remained in production for three decades, however the throw ring and split third valve slide on the late production example below did not appear on the model until sometime in the later 1950s.
By the end of 1938, the economy and instrument sales rebounded. Holton redesigned the Revelation again with a new single radius slide and streamlined wrap possibly inspired by the pea-shooters. A 1939 example of the fourth generation of Holton Revelation is the Model 48 below.
1938 appears to have been the last year that the Holton-Clarke model cornet, originally built as the New Proportion Long Model starting in 1905 or 1906, was built. In the 1930s, the B-flat version of the H-C was known as the Model 22, and the vocal version, the same horn with slides for A and C, as the Model 26. Below is a 1938 Model 26 Holton-Clarke Model cornet.
The third finger button on this example has been replaced with a post-WWII one. The H-C cornets employed the same “X’ shaped rear bell brace as the Revelation trumpets during the 1932-38 period.
The Model 45 Revelation also originated at the same time. A 1939 with replacement waterkeys is below.
In mid to late 1939, around or shortly before serial number 130,000, Holton began placing the leadpipe number, usually associated with a specific bell or bell choke, on the bell engraving instead of under the receiver ring. At this time, the fourth generation Revelation models became easily recognizable.
The Holton Company expanded its line-up dramatically around the time of its founder’s departure adding several variations such as the Stratodyne and Resotone cornet models. Both of these were optional bells and, with the 24 and 27, perhaps unique leadpipes on a .465 bore Model 25 cornet body. The .465 bore Model 29 was also later built as a Stratodyne. As the war neared, but the economy also improved, production and variety of Collegiate models also expanded.
The Holton Model 29 cornet was in production by 1939 as well. A 1947 Model 29 is below .
Throughout the Depression, several companies built specialized bugles. These were for drum & Bugle corps use in competition and performance settings for groups first organized by the American Legion in the 1920s. These drum & Bugle corps bugles were of the fixed pitch variety, generally G and D, with options for F and B flat. To provide for additional flexibility, single valve bugles allowed shifting from G to D or from B flat to a G/F path determined by slide pull. Among those building bugles for these contests were the WF Ludwig Company, CG Conn, the Frank Holton Company and HN White.
Below is a CG Conn Depression-era American Legion product, an 11L HP/LP Bb bugle.
Below is an HN White D American Legion Bugle from the 1930s.
Aida trumpets, like bugles, were popular at this time. The Holton Company had built Aida, or Herald, Trumpets to order since 1905 if not before. Below is a fourth generation Revelation Aida trumpet from 1947 that is built in the form used from approximately 1939 until the 1950s.
The stencil horns of the middle depression period were, in many respects, a newer and more durable form, but with the same inexpensive design and lack of attention to issues that would affect tone and intonation. Below is an example typical of these, an H.N. White American Standard cornet.
Just before World War Two, Martin modified the Imperial, as it too closely resembled the newly-released Committee, with bracing and a unique fully reversed (both legs) tuning slide. A 1954 example of that later Martin Imperial Trumpet, one of the last built before Wurlitzer assigned the Imperial name to a completely different horn in the 1960s, is below.
Throughout the 1930s, the fascist powers in Europe exploited bands as part of their image campaign on the evolving home front. The 1930s Prof. Romeo Orsi trumpet, made by an Italian firm founded in Tradate in 1836 and which continues in operation in Milan in the early 21st century, was likely played in bands during this period as the regime of Benito Mussolini demonstrated its power and strength through public pageantry.
Sometime just before World War II halted production, Olds introduced a new model line dubbed “Recording”. This included Cornets, trumpets, and trombones. Among the distinguishing features were an ergonomically offset second valve on the cornets and trumpets, heavier bell construction on the trombone juxtaposed against lighter generally for the trumpet, and a unique higher copper brass the company named “Rey-O-Loy”. A 1975 Olds Recording Tenor Trombone with F Trigger is shown below.
A 1971 example of the corresponding Recording Trumpet, by then designated Model R-10, is shown below.
The Second World War – Production Halts
By 1940, much of the world was involved in what looked to be shaping up as a conflict of greater universality than even the Great War, as World War One was called at the time. The American economy was limping out of the Great Depression, and the war boosted some markets while eliminating the market entirely for others. Musical instruments appear to have done well based on sales volumes for the major makers.
In occupied France, Henri Selmer (above) disappeared. The Selmer Company briefly was forced to produce Selmer trumpets labeled as from the workshop of Adolph Sax in order to humor the occupation forces. It was somewhat legitimate in that Selmer owned the rights to the name at that point, but the instruments were Selmer’s with Millereau heritage.
C.G. Conn replaced the 8B New World Symphony with a new 2B Symphony model in 1940. Both were .453 bore predecessors of the Connstellation line. The Conn line-up had been thinned tremendously during the Depression and Conn did not engage in aggressive expansion as the economy began to improve. The 2B and the 22B were the only true professional trumpets of this period.
Reynolds partnered with Scherl & Roth to start the Ohio Band Instrument Company. While started to be a student line subsidiary of Reynolds, one of the first products of the company was a unique trumpet that crossed over to the professional World. The Roth 300, labeled as made by the Ohio Band Instrument Company, was built with student grade bottom sprung valves and minimal trim, but was marketed using leading artists. The horn plays remarkably well for its simple construction. The 1940 example below is, by serial number, the earliest known according to Contempra Corner.
Another product of Reynolds’ joint venture was the Regent cornet. An early 1940 is below.
With the economy having recovered somewhat, the student instrument market was poised to expand. HN White, which had used stencils for some time for this market, and which had closed-down the Cleveland shop moving both Cleveland and American Standard to stencils, ventured back into manufacturing student lines horns. Part of this change was the introduction of the Gladiator line in 1940, which ran through 1941 and then was continued briefly 1950-1953 before being determined to be redundant with the other two. It is possible that when White introduced Gladiator, there was still some intent that Cleveland would be a better brand, though that is pure speculation.
Below is one of the first Gladiator trumpets. It boasts a three digit serial number and dates from 1940.
In addition to the trumpet above, the Gladiator line also included a cornet model. A similarly early example of the cornet, also made in 1940 and prior to the trumpet above, is below.
The Vega company at this time had abandoned production for stencils, and was on a trajectory toward fading out of the band instrument business after the war. In 1941, by contrast, George Bundy expanded Selmer adding the Bundy student and Signet intermediate brands. Below is a 1941 Bundy Trumpet.
When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor Hawaii on December 7 1941, the horn below was in fabrication. It is a fourth generation or original Model 48 Revelation, except that it has been modified to meet military specifications for a B flat trumpet.
Several elements of the design are altered to conform to military specifications for a B-flat trumpet, much as was the case with the World War One Conn shown previously. The construction is standard, not reversed. The A stop-rod mechanism is eliminated, and there is a pinkie hook. Otherwise, however, it is a Revelation. Engraved on the bell are the generic letters “US”. It is probable that Holton was hoping to go into instrument production for a rapidly expanding military as Conn had during the First World War, however that did not happen. All band instrument companies were converted under the Defense Plant Corporation umbrella.
Below is another Holton Military model from late December 1941. It is an unchanged pre-war Model 29 cornet simply marked for military use by the US engraved on the bell. The Model 29 came standard with a pinkie hook and in B-flat only, thus no changes were needed to conform to military specifications. This particular example is tarnished beyond polishing, which has accentuated the starburst pattern found on these period horns. The valves in this example have been destroyed by someone driving the bottoms of the pistons in, crushing the ports and locking the debris in place.
The military adaptation of the Revelation strongly resembles the less expensive, bottom-sprung and less complex Ideal 405 that began in 1934 and was still in production as a Collegiate in 1941. A pre-war Collegiate example of that is below. It cannot be dated due to the unique serial number sequence.
In 1942, Martin folded Indiana into the company as a student model name much like Conn’s Pan American. Below is a 1959 example of the Martin Indiana Model student trumpet.
While most other makers were converted to war production, they all ran advertising to hold onto their name recognition, and recruit post-war customers. Examples of that advertising follow on the next page. Below are examples from Selmer (this one is actually at the end of the war) and from York, which by this time had been purchased by the publishing house of Carl Fischer.
During the Defense Plant Corporation period, these are some of the advertisements that appeared from Holton, Buescher and Blessing.
At the end of the war, manufacturers cited their war-time manufacturing record, much as they had during the war such as in the Conn advertisements shown previously describing products such as the Conn altimeter above. Here are late-war and post-war advertisements from Holton, Martin and Conn.
While stationed in Europe, Vito Pascucci (Oct. 22, 1922-Aug. 18, 2003), a trumpet player and amateur repair technician from Kenosha who had been drafted in 1943, was among those assigned to Glen Miller’s band at Miller’s request. They (below somewhere in Europe) struck up a friendship and hatched plans for music stores stateside after the war. Following Miller’s apparent death while crossing the channel, Pascucci continued with the plan, touring liberated instrument factories in Europe. When he encountered Leon Leblanc of the Leblanc firm, he was given a large stash of clarinets that Leblanc feared would be looted, and arranged to return them to the United States for eventual sale. This was his first action as Leblanc’s American distributor. Pascucci founded Leblanc USA in 1944 for that purpose and also began importing brass instruments from the Gaudet’s Antoine Courtois firm.
After the war, the Courtois firm pursued a number of new directions. They had stenciled horns for export previously, as with Pascucci’s Leblanc, but would in the coming years transform to a significant out-sourced fabricator, not unlike the 21st Century Kanstul firm, building all of the Leblanc trumpets as well as many products for Holton well in advance of the 1965 merger. The styling and technology of these instruments varied widely, and all were of the most modern technology and, in the pro models, highest quality. Their initial proiduct under their own name, was less unique than that built for others soon after. Post-war professional Courtois trumpets looked remarkably similar to the pre-war product of rival Selmer, such as this mid 1950s balanced-model example below.
The closing period of American involvement in the war was the occupation of the American Sector of what had been Germany (and would become West Germany). Under the Marshall Plan, funding was poured into resurrecting the West German economy as a bastion against the further spread of Communism, which had exploited this war much as World War One had been exploited in Russia ending in the establishment of the Soviet Union. German businesses of all kinds, including instrument manufacture, received considerable aid in becoming re-established. The “Revere Special” example from an early and unknown maker below exhibits a “US Zone” marking attesting to the ongoing occupation.
After the War
Following World War II, H.N. White would add the Super-20 model to the King line-up in 1946. Below is a 1946 model 1047 Super-20 in the smaller .448 bore S1 variant. The horn was also available with a .458 bore as the model 1048 S2. Super-20s were built with a one-piece bell, as on this example, for only the first few years of production.
As on the Liberty, the key change slide is an Esbach sequential slide behind the tuning slide and uses another form of locking ring to catch at the A position. It also uses “aircraft strut” bell braces first seen on Selmers. Super-20s did not replace the Liberty, rather both remained in production into the 1960s.
In 1948, Foster Reynolds was lured out of retirement (having retired after the sale of his company to Scherl & Roth) by CMI Holdings, the owners of F.E. Olds. His mission, beyond superintending at the Olds plant, was to launch a new line of student instruments. These were dubbed “Ambassador” and were built alongside Olds professional models using many of the same materials, tools and tolerances. CMI had originally asked Reynolds to expand Olds into a full line manufacturer, but he, along with RB Olds, convinced CMI of the advantages of entering the student market while leveraging the existing brass-specific manufacturing capacity and experience. An example of the flagship product, the still very popular Ambassador trumpet (this one being one of the last, made in 1976) is below.
The Holton Company expanded in the post-war period with models built around 3 designs. A table of these is below.
The first of these was the traditional Revelation, built as the model 45 with a more resistive leadpipe for control and a standard Holton bell taper, and the model 48 with a more open leadpipe. Holton liturature states the only difference in the 45 & 48 bells is the “choke” and that other than unique leadpipes, the remainder of the two models is identical.
A 1951 Holton Model 45 is below.
Below is a model 48 made in 1948.
When compared to the 1924 Revelation showed earlier, the fourth generation Revelations were built lighter with a more rounded tuning slide for greater flexibility. This basic design of the 48 was implemented sometime between 1938 and 1939 as shown above, as was the similar Model 45 Revelation. The only post-war differences are trim such as the receiver and lyre mount.
The second design included 3 braced, non-reversed horns: the 45 Deluxe, 48 Deluxe and 51 Large Bore. Below is a 1954 Holton 48 Deluxe, with a .458” bore, the 2-piece Revelation bell in rose brass, and the open leadpipe in nickel. Note the “aircraft strut” braces also used on Stratodynes.
Like the Model 45 and 48 Revelations, the difference in the Deluxe models appears to be primarily the leadpipe. The bell choke is also said to be tighter on the 45. A 1949 Model 45 Deluxe is below.
The 51LB model was introduced after the others, possibly in 1949 or even after. It is the same basic design as a Deluxe, however the bore is a .464”, sometimes said to be the same as the same as the Llewellyn model, though those appeared in .460”. Below is a 1952 Holton Model 51LB trumpet.
The third design utilized one piece red brass bells, triggers, and standard braced slides. Below is a 1957 Holton Symphony minus its 1st trigger.
The Holton Symphony was designed with the standard bell taper while the Stratodyne used a unique lightweight bell. The first were labeled as 48 Deluxe models and had yellow brass bells. The Stratodyne appeared in the 1948 catalog. A 1954 in Deluxe trim and the matching 1954 cornet are below.
The finger buttons, caps and valve casings shown on the Symphony above and several of the preceding examples began to displace the circa 1930 sloped caps and buttons seen on the wartime and first post-war examples. It appears as if these two styles of trim overlapped in the later 1940s before the earlier style faded away by 1950.
The Distin Company faded away during the war years. Shut down, it never reopened.
1946 was a year of dramatic change and expansion in the band instrument industry. In addition to the resumption of normal manufacturing operations and the return of the younger labor force, new models and new firms abounded.
That year, Foster Reynolds opted to sell his shares in his companies to Scherl & Roth and, after over 40 years in the business, retire. It did not last, as he was recruited by Chicago Musical Instruments, the new owners of F.E. Olds, to serve as plant manager in 1947. The Ohio Band Instrument Co. name vanished.
Also in 1946, Vito Pascucci, the namesake of the Vito woodwind brandname, founded Leblanc USA. Wan Wu, either in 1946 or 1945, changed its name to Kung Hsue She, the precursor of KHS. Henri Selmer Paris was re-established without its founder. And, the firms of East Germany were consolidated into a single communist cooperative for the production of musical instruments.
1946 was the year in which the former Germanic states of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Bohemia and Moravia, which formed the bulk of the Sudetenland region, were ethnically cleansed by the new Czech communist rulers of the artificially contrived Czechoslovakia – a vestige of the Treaty of Versailles. The Russians, being socio-culturally and ethnically Slavic, favored the desire of what they saw as their kin to seize more land for the expansion of what they perceived as their unique race. Therefore, one night in 1946, all German speaking residents of the Sudetenland were forcibly evicted, allowed just two suitcases of no more than 110Lbs total, and dispossessed of all of their other real property and belongings.
The East German communist government responded with a resettlement plan and financial support for the refugees, but the musical instrument industry that had been the strongest, if not necessarily the best, was decimated. A large percentage migrated to Markneukirchen on the East German border with their former homeland. This city was already the site of a satellite instrument making colony in the Bohemian tradition, and the refugees could find work and cultural familiarity there.
While sixteen million people were dispossessed and deported, Max Keilwerth was allowed to remain until 1955 to assist Amati in merging the factory with other firms. Julius Keilwerth found a new home in Nauheim near Frankfurt along with a significant number of Bohemian craftsmen. In 1947 he set-up shop, and by 1949 opened a small new production facility. The firm employed 80 people building band instruments for the Western European market only, whereas the firm in 1938 had employed over 150 and exported to 22 countries. Between 1950 and 55, the firm battled Amati and won a judgment at the Hague limiting use of the Toneking and Keilwerth names and logos to their company only.
Being Slavic did not save the firms of Cerveny and Lidl. They were merged into the Czech national cooperative under the Amati Kraslice name - Kraslice being the new Slavic name for the formerly Germanicly named Graslitz. The Amati cooperative was up and running, producing instruments of universally mediocre quality by 1948, and survives into the 21st century.
In 1947, exiles from Bohemia established the Miraphone company making primarily low brass.
Wenzel Meinl, a Kingenthal Bohemia merchant who had married an heir to the Johann Langhammer workshop (est. 1810) and is rumored to have been working at Bohland & Fuchs, used his 50kg of luggage for tooling, plans and some smuggled capital. He set up shop in a barn in Konigsdorf, Bayern (translates as Kingston Bavaria) and was soon joined by his son. Anton Meinl had been captured by the Red Army during the war and ultimately escaped from prison in Siberia travelling across the NorthEastern portions of former Austro-Hungary (with which a Bohemian would be well acquainted) and eventually found his displaced family in Konigsdorf. He and his father bought two ammunition bunkers in Geretsried Bavaria and expanded into full scale production by the 1950s.
In 1948, The English side of the Besson Company was acquired by Boosey & Hawkes. Besson and Boosey & Hawkes instruments shortly thereafter became largely indistinguishable from one another.
Around this same time, the Musser Marimba Company, future partner in the Ludwig-Musser component of Conn-Selmer, was established.
Conn was conservative throughout the period adding a coprion bell option and the NY Symphony Special to the 22B, but not introducing another professional model until 1949 and the 28B.
In Elkhorn Wisconsin, home of Holton, a former apprentice at JW York Grand Rapids named TJ Getzen (above) began building trombones in the converted family dairy barn in 1947. In 1948 trumpet production began which rapidly became the focus of the company. The first Getzen trumpets were a relatively low-cost product of cheap labor by family and farm hands newly returned from the war looking for work, combined with efficient use of materials. These were engineered with heavy durable parts where wear was expected to be worse. This was offset with a lightweight responsive bell design, made of brass annealed ductile enough to be repeatedly straightened and still produce a quite decent tone.
The 1950, barn-made, Getzen Elkhorn trumpet in its original case below has had its bell crushed and straightened more than once and still plays very well for a student, one might say “step-up”, horn. These horns quickly earned a reputation with teachers for being “bullet-proof” and gained considerable market share. Later Getzen models would use Amado spit keys and became easily recognized by those.
On the early models, the elaborate armor on the Getzen also gave the horn some flash that set it apart from its competitors.
The post war period saw explosive growth in radio and television and with that, jobs for studio musicians. The Revelation and its progeny such as the Martin Committee and eventually those from Schilke all found favor in this market. Among these horns was perhaps the most unique, though never bestselling, trumpet from F.E. Olds: The Olds Studio.
The original Studio was released in 1948 with a .460 bore with a 4-3/4” two piece bell. The flare of the bell was made of German silver (60% nickel,20% copper,20% zinc) and was fused to the yellow brass bell stem. The un-braced tuning slide was also of German silver and was not a reversed construction. This created a horn capable of widely varied tonal character depending on how it was blown, and one which provided more secure slotting than a reversed horn while still maintaining some flexibility and great responsiveness from the un-braced construction. The design remained in production through 1965. A 1964 Studio is below.
The companion horn to the Studio trumpet was the F.E. Olds Studio cornet. This instrument followed the same timeline as the trumpet, and the visual similarity is quite clear. Below is a 1964 Olds Studio cornet.
In the 1948 Holton catalog the Model 28 cornet appears. This is the first surviving mention of the .485 bore version of the pre-war Model 29, which also continued in production. The 28 likely originated earlier, however surviving sales literature is scarce and this author has not seen an earlier reference. The example below supports the earlier production theory however, as it is a 1947.
Also in 1948, Holton changed the model number of its student cornet, the Holton Collegiate 502 to the Holton Collegiate 503. The horn appears to be identical and the advertising graphic was.
Below is a 1948 Holton Collegiate 503 cornet.
In 1949, HN White augmented the Super-20 trumpets with an additional model, the 1049 Dual Bore Symphony trumpet. This featured a single brace, a silver leadipe, a unique brass alloy for the one piece bell, and most significantly an additional expansion of the bore between the tuning slide and the valves. The Symphony was also available with a sterling bell as the Symphony Silversonic, and later in a balanced model as well. Below is a 1963 King Super-20 Symphony with the 2-piece bell utilized after the first few years of production.
By 1949, Pan-American was building modern student horns not recycled from Conn such as this below.
. H.N. White also ramped-up post war production of student line instruments, producing Cleveland, American Standard, and by the 1950s, the Gladiator line as well as the Super-20 Master Model below.
One unexpected development of the post-war period was a brief resurgence in valve trombones. The reasons are not clear, but Conn, King, Getzen and even Besson produced a significant number of valve trombones following the war and through the 1950s. As the first chromatic trumpets were soprano sackbuts, it seems worthy of mention here with this example, a 1950 Besson.
The greatest change to the industry in the decade of economic growth that followed the 40s was the relative lack of change. The rush of new products developed during the war years had brought to market significant gains in brass instrument technology and, as often happens after conflict accelerates technological progress, a lull ensued as the market absorbed the products.
The new owners intended to convert FE Olds to a full-line producer of brass instruments by hiring Foster Reynolds. Reynolds convinced CMI to pursue a student line instead and developed the Olds Ambassador series, built on the same lines to the same tolerances as other Olds horns, but with less expensive materials and simplified construction. The Ambassador line attracted a fanatical following.
Reynolds also took an apprentice at this time, Zigmant Kanstul, who had moonlighted in Elden Benge’s back yard factory. Reynolds learned from J.W. York, who apprenticed to Esbach, who had apprenticed in Germany, but also with both Samuel Graves and Elbridge Wright, Wright also being a Graves apprentice, and having apprenticed to James Keat who had apprenticed to his father Samuel Keat in England before 1800. This chain makes Kanstul the last of a long line of masters spanning across parts of four centuries.
One of the more unusual trumpets in the collection is an unknown craftsman’s attempt to create a horn that embodied the best of both the old master and his apprentice. Below is a 1973 Olds Ambassador trumpet which was built just three years after Zigmant Kanstul resigned from his role as head of the Olds factory. The bell, however, has been taken from a Kanstul trumpet. The third valve slide is built in the style of a Kanstul with offset breaks, a fixed ring, and a forward projecting stop rod through ball-end posts below. Ambassadors do not have these features typically. The tubing and brace on third, however, appear to be of the type used on Ambassadors. The Amado water keys are not specific to any brand and appear to be a personal choice by the prior owner of the horn.
This one of a kind creation was probably made for a working musician in the studio, entertainment or broadcast world. It would not be well suited to orchestral or artist use and the Ambassador’s dedicated followers come almost exclusively from that more work-a-day world of the studio musician for hire.
In 1950, Wilson Band Instruments was established in Switzerland. Holton redesigned the Collegiate and began using distinctive under-mount spit keys on the horns. A 1951 Holton Collegiate 507 is below.
The 507 trumpet was paired with the Holton Collegiate 503 cornet. A 1951 example is below.
Holton also introduced a Deluxe Collegiate line in 1950 that would evolve in 1955 into the Super-Collegiate line. Below is the advertising graphic for the 1951 Deluxe Collegiate 607 trumpet.
The Deluxe Collegiate line was built with additional features not found on the base models such as nickel trim and a throw ring on the third valve slide.
In 1951, Renold Otto Schilke stepped down as principle trumpet of the Chicago Symphony, becoming a substitute through 1962. That year he founded Schilke Music Products with Philip Farkas, who would design the Farkas Model Holton French horn. In 1956, Schilke bought sole ownership of his firm.
Initially, using tooling bought from the dissolution of the William Frank Company in 1956, Schilke began making and selling mouthpieces. Those designs would go on to become the top selling mouthpiece brand, although the Bach designs, as cloned by dozens of others, may still be the most common.
By this time, Schilke had refined his trumpet designs considerably from the technology of the Martin Committee and in particular, his leadpipe design. Using contact microphones and oscilloscopes, Schilke had carefully studied the effects on waveform propagation through the trumpets and how extremely small adjustments in leadpipe taper, bend radius, seam or bend placement, and so on, could affect intonation and tonal properties. Schilke’s first trumpet he built for himself, but like his friend Elden Benge, soon found that others were interested. He continued to favor elements drawn from the Holton Llewellyn, but later Holton features, such as single radius tuning slides, appear in Schilke design as well.
Around 1951/52 as Conn celebrated 75 years in the business without much fanfare, the long running third generation of the 22B New York Symphony model was built for the last time. A version of this design, but stripped of the expensive trim such as turned caps and rolled sleeve ends, appeared in 1952. It was a cheaper-built form of the 22B. The horn served as the transition to the 22B Victor model that would follow, replacing the New York Symphony model. As the 22B Victor, It was perceived to no longer be a professional, but rather an intermediate level horn. A 1952 transitional Conn 22B trumpet is below.
Sometime in the 1950s, the partnership of Bohm & Meinl was established at Geretsried Bavaria. This was in addition to other family businesses run by Walter and his son Anton Meinl. The company made brass instruments under their own name and also for stencil under names such as Carl Fischer in New York. Below is a 1950s B&M trumpet.
The company would go on to develop a reputation, like its sister Meinl firm, for low brass. Walter Meinl’s grandson Walter Nirschl, who trained under his uncle Anton, ultimately purchased the firm and Nirschl continues to build brass instruments, including piston valve tubas in the York tradition, in 2017 out of facilities in India, China and Brazil.
At Olds, one more significant model was developed and released in 1952. This was the Olds Mendez Model trumpet, and the corresponding, not to mention visually identical, Mendez cornet. These featured triggers on both first and third valve slides, with the third valve trigger requiring a pull to extend the slide the same as had been used on the Olds Recording cornet for many years.
The Mendez models are also unique in that there is a story of their development in cooperation with trumpeter Raphael Mendez, which Robb Stewart has stated long time Olds employee R. Dale Olsen heard from people who were in the room. It is that Mendez, who played a worn-out pre-war Besson, was unsatisfied with every prototype. They did not respond to his liking (possibly a resistance issue?). After listening to Mendez’s feedback, and enterprising individual theorized that leaking valves would produce the characteristics Mendez seemed to be complaining were lacking. He then quickly buffed the valves down, consistent rumors over the years say from a .0005” gap to a .0015” gap around the piston, and Mendez loved the horn afterward.
While it is believed from horns that have been found and measured that those given to Mendez to use and give away were likewise modified, the production horn has very tight valves – the tightest this author has seen in a horn over 20 years old. Below is a 1953 Mendez Model trumpet.
By 1953, Vincent Bach had produced roughly 11,500 trumpets in the preceding 28 years. Bach moved the factory at this time to a new facility in the New York town of Mt. Vernon. The facility would operate for only 8 years, producing 14,000 trumpets and the parts for another 5,000, but like pre-war French Bessons and Martin Committees, these would be some of the most sought-after trumpets ever made.
Below is a Mt. Vernon Bach Stradivarius with the modern standard configuration of a #37 bell and #25 leadpipe. Its only non-standard feature is the first valve slide trigger – though it has been argued that the unusually tight valves of this particular horn might also count as custom, given that Bach’s were known for less than perfect seals there. This horn was assembled from the cache of pre-built parts at Mt. Vernon around 1963/64. According to the Bach sales rep who spoke to the staff at Royal Music, it was used by Bach in a demonstration for a custom client. It is presumably the unaltered baseline for comparison and thus exemplifies what Bach felt his horn should be. It was subsequently shipped to Elkhart, lacquered, put in an Elkhart case and shipped to Royal Music as regular stock.
At HN White, the Super-20 models including the dual bore Symphony likewise were mature by 1950. White did offer the balanced model of the Symphony and introduced the Silversonic name for the sterling bell version, but little else changed on the King models.
In 1954, Conn brought back a design concept first used in the 26B in 1930 – arranging the wrap such that the air stream passes through the valves in numerical order from 1 to 3. While accustically irrelevant, this concept seemed to also be important to the designers of the Olds Recording cornet. The new Conn was the 14B student line “Director” cornet. In 1961, a refresh led to the model number incrementing to 15A such as the 1969 example belowand added the 17A with a coprion bell.
In 1956, William F Ludwig bought the Musser Marimba Company. That same year, Conn ended the Pan American name (again) and replaced it with the Conn Director series. Conn Directors included the 1954 14B and 18B, the 1961 15B and 17B, later the 20B and eventually a 22B model. These instruments, being some of the most durable yet inexpensive ever designed, still played better than most prior inexpensive horns for young musicians. These rapidly became one of the most commonly found instruments in any American school band room in the 1960s, 70s and 80s. Below is a 1963 Conn 15B Director trumpet.
The Director embodied the new direction at Conn – focus on the student lines. A Student line focus had been the undoing of William Franks, and crippled the Buescher Company, but the 1950s was a new dynamic, with rapid expansion in school music programs.
On the professional side of the business, Conn discontinued the 2B in 1951 and the 28B in 1955. The 28B Connstellation was replaced by the 38B Connstellation, a 1957 example of which is below.
1955 also marked the end of the 12B New York Symphony coprion bell model, and the launch of the 6B Victor trumpet. Through 1956, some 22B New York Symphony models remained available, but it is unclear if they were produced after 1953.. Finally in 1953, the 36B Connstellation, a lightweight version of the .453 bore 38B, was added to the line-up.
The Holton line-up shown previously continued through the decade of the 1950s mostly unchanged. IN 1950, Holton had added the 603 and 607 Collegiates to the 503 cornet and 507 trumpet as step-up models. In 1955, the line was refreshed with the 504 and 508 Collegiate models and the new “Super-Collegiate” 604 and 608. These horns used new externally top-sprung pistons in the French style, and specifically in the form of Courtois valves such as in the horns Courtois built for Leblanc. This detail opens the question of when and how the Leblanc acquisition of Holton began.
The 1960 example below shows these French elements (second valve trim has been replaced on this).
The advertising graphic from 1960:
The Super-Collegiate horns were built with a mix of three alloys: yellow brass, red brass and cupro-nickel. Below is a 1959 Holton Super-Collegiate model 604 cornet with a badly wrinkled bell flare. While the bulk of the horn is yellow brass. The bell has been formed in two pieces with the red brass stem fused to a cupro-nickel flare that is then complimented by nickel overlay trim elsewhere.
Interestingly, when the SuperCollegiate launched in 1955, there were either a great many left-over Special Deluxe models, or the ability to build the red-brass stem with fused nickel flair was still being refined. The initial SuperCollegiate cornets were noticeably different from the SuperCollegiate design above, they were, in fact, Special Deluxe models. Below is a 1955 604, that is actually a 603.
The 604 and the 504 were similar, but distinct instruments. A 1955 Model 504 is below. The French trim (buttons, caps, etc.) and the third valve slide throw first appear in 1958 when the French valves also appear in the renamed Revelation trumpets of that year. It is not clear if this is a sign of an increasing involvement with Courtois or with Leblanc, or if it is merely an adaptation of stylistic concepts noticed during the first exposure to Courtois in 1955 with the valves.
The Collegiate trumpets of 1955 also were updated with the same Courtois type pistons. Like the cornets, the 508 and 608 were the standard Collegiate trumpet and the SuperCollegiate version with the multi-alloy bell.
Below is a 1964 Holton Collegiate 508 – the last year of production for this model.
The French valves can be seen clearly removed from this 1958 Holton Revelation Model 45 below, which is the former Deluxe Model 45 renamed following the end of production of the original, unbraced, reversed-construction, single-radius-slide final form of the true Revelation. These valves are distinctive in the external placement of the spring around the spring-box, similar to the F.E. Olds design or to the old Bohland und Fuchs pistons of the 1880s.The guide is incorporated into a distinctive stepped washer below the spring which also serves as the compression device when the valve is depressed. Interestingly, while the French angular braces and side-mounted screw throw ring mounts appear even before 1955 on Collegiate line horns, these Courtois style features do not appear on the redesigned Model 48. The external appearance of this horn was virtually unchanged from the model with American valves that preceded it.
While many of the Holton trumpets and cornets were transitioned to the French valves and trim, notably the Stratodyne and Revelation Model 48 (again, a renaming of the Deluxe) were not among them. Below is a 1960 Revelation Model 48.
In the late 1950s, Holton also built bugles for the US Marine Corps’ Drum & Bugle Corps in Washington DC. Below is a Holton G bugle, chrome plating on brass, which is in the unique wrap used only by that organization.
In 1957, global economic forces combined to place Fontaine-Besson at a disadvantage and it was then absorbed by Couesnon. When an arson fire destroyed Couesnon’s main plant in 1969 along with all of the designs and tooling, all records of the F.Besson trumpets were lost. The mandrels for those horns and the Couesnon trumpets vanished - as did the French side of the Besson brand. PGM Couesnon exists today as just a small family firm hand-making hunting post horns and the occasional flugelhorn.
Also in 1957, KHS Music made their first band instruments in Taiwan. Meanwhile, York was still producing professional trumpets, but not on the same level as the competition. Below is a 1957 J.W. York & Son trumpet.
In 1959, the Guitar Center Group of stores began under the name Organ Center. That same year, the Getzen company was sold to Harold M Knowlton. Robert Getzen retained rights to subsidiary Allied Music, a supply store.
Sometime in the 1950s, a unique horn was made. It is a rotary valve cornet largely unchanged from those built in central Europe in the late nineteenth century. It has a unique push-button linkage to operate the valves allowing it to give the impression of being a modern piston valve instrument without the need for technicians and tooling capable of making the same. This push-button approach was first tried briefly by Henry Esbach on Boston cornets in 1879, seven examples of which are known to still exist.
The only explanation for this is that it was important for Soviet entities top appear the equal or better of their Western rivals. With the deportation of all skilled, but ethnically German, instrument makers from central Europe’s instrument making centers, this must have been an improvisation to create the appearance of modernity while saddling the player with century-old technology. In classic Soviet style, it has only a model number “U80P” and a serial number on the bell.
These designs were all standard and built in many locations. The bell markings were devoid of maker or brand names, as that would be contrary to the socialist ethos, and typically carried just indecipherable pattern and serial or batch numbers. Occasionally, there might be a logo representing the greater collective such as on the horn that follows, made by a “Moscow Tool Factory No. ___” (unfortunately what number plant this was is at present un-known to the author) in 1959.
Also in the 1950s, the next example, this 1956 Conn 22i bell-front valve-front euphonium creeps into this collection only because of its link to two brothers who so dramatically influenced the concert band movement of the Twentieth century, and thus the role of the trumpet. This is the same model that was played by virtuoso Leonard Falcone, for whom the Falcone Tuba and Euphonium Festival is named.
Leonard Falcone came to the United States at the age of 16 joining his older Brother Nickola, who had emigrated in 1912, from Roseto Valfortore Italy in 1915. The Falcone’s attended the University School of Music in Ann Arbor Michigan, which became a part of the University of Michigan shortly thereafter, graduating in 1926, by which time Leonard had been a US citizen for 2 years. They had worked together in a tailor shop and then in a Ypsilanti theater where Nick, a clarinetist, directed and Leonard played a variety of instruments. In 1927 the director of bands positions at both Michigan and Michigan State opened up. Nicholas replaced their teacher Wilfred Wilson, the renowned Michigan bandsman and friend for whom Sousa penned Pride of the Wolverines, and Leonard took on what was essentially an ROTC auxiliary at Michigan Agricultural College (the original name of Michigan State University).
Both brothers threw themselves into their work, building two of the best collegiate marching and concert band programs in the country. As a necessity, they both took to arranging orchestral, operatic, folk and other literature for their bands. In the process, they became among the most prolific authors of music for the concert band. As professor of low brass, Leonard also enjoyed performing and recording on his favorite instrument, then commonly called a baritone, creating the first significant recorded library of traditional virtuoso solos for the instrument – most all of which were, like his arrangements, borrowed from the repertoire of others.
Nick eventually lost his hearing in the 1930s, with Leonard briefly serving as director at both rival schools for a year until Michigan legend William D. Revelli was hired. His impact as an arranger however cannot be understated. Leonard went on to become internationally respected for the College of Music at Michigan State, for his vast contribution to band repertoire, and for his artistry on euphonium.
The Sixties: Popularity Wanes
The decade of the 1960s was a turbulent one in the United States, with a war in Southeast Asia to halt the spread of Communism, and a war at home over rights and racial equality. It was a decade of dramatic socio-cultural change in the United States, but also across the globe. It was also a point in time where, not surprisingly given the timespan occupied by generations, the Jazz and Swing based trend in popular music originated half a century earlier began to fade away in favor of a new trend, just as concert band music had half a century after the Civil War.
During the concert band era, the cornet had been the lead instrumental voice in popular music. During the next period, it was the trumpet. In the 1960s, the lute family returned to prominence in popular music in the form of the guitar – more specifically, the electric guitar. It was the space age, and the electric guitar, with back-up by electric keyboards and amplifiers for vocals, embodied the electrified technology of the day, creating a unique, somewhat artificial sound, that captured the integration of science into everyday living.
Demand for the new alternative products of Vega Banjo and Gibson Mandolin, which were the core product of the 1938-founded Fender Electric Instruments, soared, while demand for band instruments fell. The ongoing student market still prospered as attendance in even rural schools became commonplace and music a typical course offering everywhere. But with student instruments easy and cheap to make, competition and consolidation as the high-end declined, was inevitable.
Although not yet building band instruments, the music company that had expanded into small engines, motorcycles, yard equipment and sporting goods, Yamaha, established its American subsidiary, Yamaha North America in 1960.
Foster Reynolds died of a heart attack on the plant floor at Olds in 1960. That year, a new holding company was formed, Richards Music Corporation. RMC acquired Scherl & Roth, with which came the Reynolds brand. Additional components of RMC included the E.K. Blessing Company, and the Martin Band Instrument Company in 1962. The merger was short lived however as the debt incurred to acquire so many companies was unsupportable with the shrinking sales of even leveraged existing product. RMC folded in 1963.
The bankruptcy of Richards Music Corporation resulted in the transfer of the Reynolds name to CMI Holdings. CG Conn acquired Scherl & Roth while Wurlitzer acquired Martin. The Blessing family regained the E.K. Blessing Company.
While the RMC misadventure caused chaos throughout the industry, in 1961, Selmer bought the Vincent Bach Corporation and after a couple years in the rented NY facility moved it first to the Buescher plant in Elkhart, and then to a former Conn plant in Elkhart when Conn moved to Abilene in January 1971. Five thousand trumpets worth of parts were fabricated in advance of the move to carry the relocated company through a year or more of anticipated start-up. This proved not to be necessary. Vincent Bach was almost immediately back at work as a consulting engineer for the Selmer company. His first major project was the redesign of the Bundy trumpet which had been in production since 1948.
Below is a classic Bundy trumpet. Dating this is impossible due to Selmer failing to retain serial records.
In 1963, Selmer then bought Buescher.
In 1964, the Martin trumpet line was revamped by Wurlitzer. The Imperial design was modified with a first valve trigger, a throw on third, a rose brass bell, and a new name: the Martin Magna. The Imperial name then went to a step-up horn with unbraced standard construction. One of the more unique introductions by Wurlitzer was the step-up Martin Galaxy. This was a student horn similar to the redesigned Indiana that then bore the Imperial name, except that it was heavier and braced. The Galaxy name is doubtless a consequence of the “Space Age” gripping the northern hemisphere in the 1960s. Holton introduced an entire line by the same name. It is unclear which company adopted it first, though the dates at which instruments were introduced to the market suggest that it was Holton. A 1968/69 Martin Galaxy with Amado spit keys is below.
In a process that spanned 1962 through 1964, Vito Pascucci’s relatively young American Leblanc company purchased Frank Holton & Co. Starting just before the transitional period; the Holton firm undertook a number of changes. One of these was to build the Holton Model 50 trumpet in medium and large bore, which was intended to compete with the Conn 38B and similar instruments. Also, the Model 49 Stratodyne became the B-49, and the Model 47 Symphony was dubbed the B-47.
New cornets appeared in the Holton line-up at this time. The Model 28 name had been assigned to an all new design in 1963 and that was redubbed the C-201 Lauriat in 1965. A 1966 example is below.
The Lauriat was a top line model cornet and featured a rose brass bell and leadpipe. It is very reminiscent of the Model 29 based Holton Model 27 Stratodyne cornet of the prior decade both in appearance and performance. It includes both a first slide trigger and a third slide throw, but the lightweight bell construction, unlike the Stratodynes, is two-piece.
Next in this line-up was a horn without a direct predecessor model, the Holton C-301 “Revelation Short Cornet”. This was a professional shepherd’s crook cornet with many of the same elements as the C-201. Below is a 1965 example in silver plate that is hand scratched on the bell “A-301”. It is unclear where this marking came from or if it relates to the concurrent A-47 version of the B-47 trumpet.
The Galaxy cornet, introduced along with the Galaxy line around 1960, underwent a refresh and was renamed the C-401 Galaxy. A 1973 example of the C-401 is below.
The Galaxy, as can be seen from the abrasions on this example, continued to be available in all nickel construction, although a brass option was also available.
Below is a 1966 Holton T-102. This is the renamed B101, originally named the Model 50, following the Leblanc merger. The horn was as B101 by 1965. From 1966 through 1981 it was known as the T-102. In 1981, Holton launched the Bach clones and desired to have all three placed sequentially in the model number sequence. The name T-102 was assigned to the Bach clone with the 43 bell and the Model 50 heir was renamed the T-104.
Imitation in place of innovation was a Leblanc influence that would come to dominate corporate direction. Before the merger began, Holton introduced the Galaxy line, the last product line innovated by Holton.
A 1961 variation on the model 47 Symphony, the Holton Galaxy, with its German silver construction targeting a lower price point, was Holton’s last pre-Leblanc model and a uniquely dark and smoky trumpet well suited to the “soft jazz” and “easy listening” music of its time. Below is a 1965 Galaxy.
Following the sale of his company to Selmer, a decision made in spite of receiving higher bids from others, Vincent Bach became a consulting engineer for Selmer working out of the Mt. Vernon facility with a couple of his former craftsmen. This served as both skunk-works and custom shop for certain professional clients.
In 1962, with the factory above nearing completion in Nauheim, Julius Keilwerth died leaving control of the firm to his son Joseph (1909-82). When Joseph died, his son Gerhardt (1945-2012) shifted focus to mostly Saxophone production. The company lasted until 1987, when it was bought by Boosey & Hawkes. A series of mergers followed and in 2007 Gerhardt left to form his own firm. In 2010, after a failed venture utilizing Besson tooling and the York name, the then Schreiber & Keilwerth Co., filed bankruptcy and was acquired by Buffet-Crampon. Between 2007 and 2010, operations moved to Markneukirchen.
In Elkhart, the Getzen dairy barn and connected structures were leveled by a catastrophic fire that wiped out all tooling, production records and designs. Just 5 months later, the company reopened in a new factory down the road, building a reduced catalog of instruments. Two years later, Getzen would recover to a full line of product and expand, partially due to the new facilities, and partially due to increasing market acceptance. One unique example of this, was the contract to sell fanfare trumpets based on the new 300-series base trumpet, to Walt Disney World in Orlando Florida.
The park had been open for less than eight years when the value of fanfare trumpets for “Royal Entrance” scenes in stage production and for other events at the iconic “Cinderella’s Castle”. Some examples of these horns in use there and at the later EPCOT Center park are below.
A 1966 Getzen 300-Series Fanfare Trumpet used at Walt Disney World from 1966 to 2008 is below.
The “Mickey’s Nephews Sound the Trumpet” figurine dates from the 50th anniversary of the park. There were quite a few Getzen Fanfares purchased for use in the park, and the cases were also distinctively marked to be easily recognized in the park storage warehouses when needed for a show.
42 years in service at a theme park can be quite hard on any instrument, and at one point, many of the Disney Getzens were restored by Bob Malone. Eventually, they were retired in favor of a mix of Lawler and Kanstul herald trumpets (fanfare trumpets), and sold-off as surplus in 2008. One of the more aggressively wearing uses of these instruments was by toy soldier actors in rigid costumes during Christmas Eve parades. The awkward costumes made for unfortunate incidents with the horns.
CG Conn introduced the 8B Victor Lightweight in 1963. In 1964, Holton introduced the Model 20 cornet. It did not last long. With the Holton merger complete in 1965, Leblanc began the T-number model number system. The B-47, B-49 and many other models were dropped, replaced by the less costly and arguably inferior T-100.
In 1965, it appears that change of all kinds was on the table in the H.N. White boardroom. While the ultimate decision was to sell the company to Nate Dolin, the release of the King Silver Flair as a new, .462 bore professional trumpet, signaled that revitalizing the product line was also actively pursued. A 1968 example, built by KMI is pictured below. The design remains unchanged from the 1964 H.N. White-built version. This example is missing it’s pinkie hook and is a bit battered, but plays incredibly well.
There is a horn by HN White from this time that is not fully understood. It appears to be a prototype from 1965, just before the sale of the company. It bears no markings, not even the King name, other than simply “H.N. White Co.” on the bell. It is styled as a Silver Flair, but not plated. It is possible that the lacquer was added to the horn later and that it was initially in raw brass. The valves and the bore dimensions are those of a Super-20 Symphony model with the .458/.468 dual bore. While the second valve slide could be a stock part for the Symphony line, the third and first slides use simple, clean sleeves like those of a Flair rather than the rounded ferrules of a Symphony. The tuning slide brace and pinkie hook are from a Flair, as is the leadpipe and receiver. The half-reversed first slide with saddle is unique.
The existence of this unusual prototype HN White horn, which might have been destined to bear names such as “Silver Flair Symphony” or “Symphonic Flair” suggests that the Flair was intended to be a line of horns rather than just a single model. However, once the new owners took control, the plan changed to leveraging existing product and improving the balance sheet by eliminating investment in new designs.
Also in 1965, Donald E. Getzen started DEG Dynasty, a drum & bugle corps centered instrument maker. The company initially stenciled Blessing trumpets, switching later in the 1970s or 80s to instruments built by the Getzen family business Allied Music. Before ending sales of DEG brass in the early Twenty-first century, DEG sourced manufacture of their corps brass to Weril in Brazil. Below is a 1969 Blessing built Don Getzen signature Bb trumpet with considerable wear and a drooping bell from many years of corps marching use.
In Japan, Yamaha manufactured its first band instrument, the YTR-1 trumpet, in preparation for bringing student line instruments based on the best of past professional designs to the United States. In China, Gulf Musical Instruments was founded. Finally, Charles Kaman founded Ovation Guitars, the future KMC.
As part of the merger-mania of the decade, CBS, the Columbia Broadcasting System, acquired several instrument makers in 1965 and 1966. These included Fender Electric Instruments (formerly Fender Radio Service), Rogers Drums, Gemeinhart, and Lyon & Healy.
In 1966, Yamaha decided to expand from the YTR-1 into a full line of trumpets as part of launching a band instrument line. For most instruments, the Yamaha methodology was to look to great examples of the past made by the leading manufacturers, and then produce versions that employed the latest in material and acoustic science, but to do so in a way supported by modern manufacturing techniques that would allow these to be sold at prices competitive in the American student market.
For its trumpet line, Yamaha broke with the practice of re-engineering past models. Instead, they looked to Renold Schilke – who by that time was manufacturing his B flat, C and specialty trumpets for professionals. Schilke was retained by Yamaha to design a full line of trumpets from beginner to professional grade. The Yamaha model numbers detailed what level of quality an instrument was. In the system, the first three characters were letters defining the instrument, such as YTR for trumpet. The first numeric digit then defines the grade such as student or professional. The next digit defines the key.
Yamaha Model Number Grades Yamaha Model Number Keys Yamaha Trumpet Bores
1&2 series = student 3 = B flat S = 10.5 mm
3&4 series = step-up 4 = C MS = 11.0 mm
5&6 series = advanced 5 = D M = 11.3 mm
7&8 series = professional 6 = E flat ML = 11.68 mm
9 series are specialty instruments 7 = F/G L = 11.73 mm
8 = A
Bells 0 = High B flat
A=127mm for ML bore
B=127mm for L bore
YL=123mm Bach 37 clone
YR=123mm 37 bell for L bore
YS=126mm C only – lightweight
YM=123mm C only
YQ=121mm C only
E=110mm D/Eb bell
Schilke designed the Yamaha line using his own models as templates, but refining the design in a couple of key ways. The first was to support mass production as opposed to the hand fabrication of a Schilke. The second was to revise the shape of the tuning slide in both reversed and standard formats. Schilke used rounded slide crooks on his own horns, but for Yamaha, he returned to his Holton roots, designing slides with a fairly tight bend and more squarish profile. The turbulence at that first tight bend at the end of the leadpipe introduced resistance which tends to make for more feedback to the player and more solidity to the hold on the pitch. Schilke horns, made for the artist, require greater skill to control than the Holton based design, which helps the player not slip of the pitch as easily.
Below is an example of one of the best of Schilke’s first generation of trumpets for Yamaha. It is a YTR-761, in this instance made in 1972. The design is based on the Schilke E2, except with the tuning slide alteration noted above. The E2 was Schilke’s attempt to improve upon the D/E-flat trumpet he played personally, which had been built for him by his friend Elden Benge. He reduced the bracing, reversed the leadpipe, added his extensive taper control to the leadpipe, and adjusted the bell thickness based on his research, but otherwise followed the Benge design.
The learning model for musicians that began in the churches and then town bands, which transitioned to music in the schools, rapidly evolved a parallel educational resource in the local music store. Beginning with pioneers such as McMillin, White, Lyon & Healy and others in the later Nineteenth Century, local music stores appeared throughout the United States that offered not just instruments and music, but studios where private lessons augmented the school experience. In the later Twentieth Century, Royal Music, owned by Detroit Symphony woodwind player and later Vice President at W.T. Armstrong, Herbert Couf was such a store.
Herb Couf (below), was also an inventor, and sold his own line of Saxophone accessories. In 1965, he penned an agreement with the Julius Keilwerth Company to stencil their saxophones and trumpets in his name. At first, he acted as his own distribution, but later funneled this activity through Armstrong.
Couf’s other business, Royal Music, served as a major resource for the band instrument community in Southeastern Michigan. In addition to an extensive stock of student through professional instruments, it featured teaching studios rented by Detroit area professional players to teach private lessons to students.
Below is a circa 1980 H-Couf Royalist trumpet that most resembles a Keilwerth Toneking Deluxe 2000.
Another example of the Couf Royalist line is this badly battered Royalist cornet that appears to have spent much of its existence in the Detroit Public Schools. Royal Music was located just north of 10 mile road in Royal Oak, a Detroit suburb. While mutilated by school use, it is restorable. The Royalist cornet is also a Keilwerth product stenciled by Couf.
In 1966 the Olds Studio (catalog image below) was redesigned substituting a more drastic bore taper for the nickel features and claiming to be the highest resistance Olds trumpet. By 1970 the claim in the catalog changed to “free blowing”. In the early 1970s, as Olds deteriorated, the Studio disappeared. Switching to simple all brass construction had cut material and labor costs. Reduction in complexity also reduced scrap. Truthfully, it was simple cost-cutting and the unique features of the horn had been lost.
In the late 60s Holton began advertising aggressively and also, after a couple of short-lived versions, adopted the bell-in-circle medallion logo that would continue in use for decades both in print media, and on the tuning slide brace – a detail copied from Leblanc.
A Holton advertising image of the T-100 Symphony with the first-draft for a brace medallion is below.
Shortly after, the logo in the brace changed to the second, though also short-lived incarnation. That medallion appears below on this 1969 ST-100, which is a T-100 except that it is designated by the S as a premium level professional product. The construction is all German silver, as were the Galaxy models, but relative to pre-Leblanc horns, there have been many quality concessions made in pursuit of a more economical product. Even the pinkie hook was simplified to save cost (compare above & below). By the mid-70s, the model would become associated with Army trumpeter and big band leader Dave Stahl.
In the 1960s, Leblanc was attempting to be a full-line band instrument maker, primarily to serve the US market. At the time Leblanc US was a relatively new firm, founded at the end of World War Two. The French firm produced the majority of professional instruments while the US firm focused on the mass market. Leblanc Paris built some trumpets in France prior to the acquisition of Holton by Leblanc US, and then turned to stenciling trumpets built by French competitor Antione Courtois. The Leblanc Sonic 707 and 708 were built by Courtois during this period.
When Holton was acquired, Leblanc was still 7 years away from purchasing Martin to be its professional-level brass division. Prior to the sale, Holton had spent several years in an aggressive cost-cutting mode in order to make the balance sheet more attractive to their eventual buyer. This had begun a shift toward lower quality, lower cost instrument designs. When Leblanc took control, the image they had of Holton was of a second-tier manufacturer.
The 1966 Holton T500 Al Hirt Special Model below includes a new piston design and many unique features likely learned through Leblanc’s procurement of stencil horns from Courtois. Possibly built by Courtois for some period, the Al Hirt model evolved over time and was a step-up student horn similar to the ST-602, which differed from the T-602 family of base student models in many ways.
The companion horn to the T-500 was the C-501 Al Hirt cornet. Below is a 1967 example.
Courtois produced another short-lived and distinctively Courtois/Leblanc trumpet, the Holton T-303. This horn is built to a fairly high quality standard and was built for only a few years in the late 1960s into possibly 1971 or 72. There were two versions, both built in 1968 and based on the Leblanc 700.
The first had the name Continental Silver*One engraved on the bell and an early Leblanc-era Holton medallion on a brace on the tuning slide. An early 1968 Holton T-303 is below.
The later version dropped the brace and medallion along with the name on the bell. The bell markings instead are among the simplest ever used by Holton.
Serialized with a Leblanc serial number instead of a Holton and displaying virtually nothing that would be mistaken for a Holton made component, these horns were entirely Courtios-made models and stencils for Holton – just as the rest of the Leblanc 700 series were stencils for Leblanc. Below is a late 1968 Holton T-303.
The 1968 refresh of the Holton Galaxy Trumpet, by then dubbed the T-401 Galaxy, demonstrates Leblanc’s acceleration of cost-reducing changes. The horn is transformed into a step-up model and the alloy used mirrors that in the T-100, T-200 and upcoming Maynard models. It is thinner, harder, and brighter in tone. The valves, the trim, and the assembly complexity are all simplified. Below is a 1973 Holton T-401 Galaxy which plays surprisingly well and has considerable wear from extensive use.
Once Leblanc settled on a naming scheme for Holton horns, sometime around 1966-67, instruments such as the Collegiate. The 504 and 508 became the C-602 and the T-602.
Below are a 1972 example of the first C-602 and a 1968 example of the T-602.
Briefly during the late 1960s, Holton also produced a model T-604 trumpet. While the external appearance including slide braces, throw ring mounts, and so on (but notably NOT valve caps) was not inconsistent with all of the other French styled models, the valves in the T-604 were clearly not Courtois in origin. These were bottom-sprung pistons similar in nature to the Ideal line valves of the 1930s. The market position for this horn has not been discovered through any documentation, but may be presumed to be as an entry level instrument (sub-collegiate). A 1968 example is below.
By the end of the decade, or possibly into the early 1970s, Holton would add the C-302 and C-303 cornets, dropping the 1965-launched Lauriat and Revelation models around the same time. This product re-shuffling included ending the T-302 Revelation trumpet, the last instrument to bear the Revelation name, a 1965 example of which is below.
With the war in Vietnam and the riots in the streets of cities such as Detroit in 1967, the market for both instruments and the companies that made them cooled in the late sixties with the exception of publisher Collier MacMillan acquiring all of the Holdings of C.G. Conn Ltd. in 1969. Just before the sale, the Conn company donated the company collection of significant historic instruments to the Interlochen Arts Academy, where the Greenleaf Collection is housed in a 900 foot long building that is little more than a display case lined hallway.
In 1968 or 1969, Schilke designed professional Yamaha trumpets became available. It was the YTR-632, which in the silver plated version was dubbed the YTR-732, which is usually described as a Schilke B6 clone. However, while the bell is red brass like the B6, its geometry is thought to be that of the B7. The tuning slide is also closer to a Holton traditional design than the standard Schilke slide. This YTR-632 example dates from the Bicentennial period.
1969 was also the year in which the Organ Center chain was renamed Guitar Center. It also saw the negotiations begin for the 1970 buy-out of Chicago Musical Instruments, the owners of Fender, Gibson and FE Olds, by Ecuadorian brewing company ECL. The company would be renamed Norlin by its CEO Norton Stevens.
Sometime during the 1960s (possibly the late 1950s), though when is not clear, Buffet-Crampon, the woodwind manufacturer located in Paris France, began making trumpets. There are stories on the web attesting to Zigmant Kanstul being asked directly who made these instruments and stating that it was Buffet. That notwithstanding, the construction of the Buffet American Model trumpets closely matches the work of the Monke firm in Germany. Many examples such as the one below also are marked “Germany” on the receiver. There were a couple of other Buffet models, and some appear to be French, though the only origin markings are those on horns such as this one. The horn is a top professional trumpet built in the French style with externally top-sprung valves and the usual trim details. The third valve slide trigger is a motion-inverting trigger like the Olds Recording cornet and Mendez models.
Holton had begun experimenting with outsourcing production overseas to Leblanc’s supplier Courtois long before Leblanc took control of the company. In the late 1960s, economic pressures led to additional such ventures, with Holton turning to Yamaha in Japan, which was in the early stages of ramping-up as a major brass maker. Among the student-line horns sourced to Yamaha over many years were the T-602R, T-602RC, C-602R, C-602RC, and the T-606R. Below is a circa 1975 T-606R with red brass lead pipe and a Yamaha serial number.
Cars and Instruments: Global Competition Heats Up
By the early 1970s, labor in the United States had been transformed in its relationship with companies from what had been the norm a century earlier when brass manufacturing began in earnest. Labor unions had arisen in the Nineteenth Century in response to horrific working conditions and abuses by employers, particularly in mining, smelting, textile and heavy manufacturing industries. A hundred years later, the leverage implicit in collective bargaining, particularly as strengthened by the protections of the 1930s National Recover Act, had reversed the dynamic, leaving labor able to abuse its power over management. Union bureaucracies had emerged, creating a whole class of seniority or politically entitled workers who were given non-productive union functions on the payroll in order to settle contracts. Concepts initially instituted to protect those in unfortunate circumstances, such as disability, also became abused by leadership to cater to politically influential voices in the ranks, or simply to show examples of what they could provide their constituents. The cost of this labor dynamic, as well as the degradation in product quality similarly enforced by union politics, crippled American industry resulting in the extinction of textile mills by 1970, and, after the devastating cost of environmental controls in the 70s, would spell the end of other than strip mining and the steel industry as well.
As with the automotive industry, the unionized instrument manufacturers were prime for offshore competition in the markets they had previously monopolized. Although Boosey’s Besson had been in the US since the earliest days of bands, it was Japan’s Yamaha that exploited the opening. Yamaha targeted the school market initially rather than starting with the professional market. Their sales force appeared in force with instruments at every conference and trade show serving the school music community.
Yamaha euphoniums, both 3-valve and the 4-valve YEP-321, appeared in schools all over America . The 321 outplayed almost any American euphonium including the Yorks and most Conns and rivaled foreign brands such as Willson, Hirsbrunner and Besson, despite the lack of a compensating system. After the introduction of 6-series horns in 1983, many advanced players kept their YEP-321s with the horn even being used by competitors in the Falcone Festival on more than one occasion. As of the 2010s, the YEP-321 was Yamaha’s longest running brass model but was finally refreshed as the 321II.
Above is a prime example of the Yamaha strategy of introducing advanced, if not professional designs into the student horn market. The YEP-321 euphonium is the first 4-valve euphonium Yamaha offered in the United States starting around 1970 and is by its number considered only a step-up instrument. This example, in the original case and showing nearly four decades of use, is a 1975 with the rather unique serial number 005000 which was customized by Yamaha around 1980 with two new slides and a prototype of the leadpipe later used in the YEP-621/641/642/842 models.
JW York was the first to spin into rapid decline in the 1970s economic environment. In 1970, the firm was sold to the Tolchin Company. The York companies really never recovered from the retirement of their Boston-trained founder, whose innovations had driven the creation of their best products. During the Great Depression, York, once renowned for the world’s best low brass, fell behind in technology and failed to attract the capital to update, becoming a division of Carl Fischer. After the World War II shut-down, York limped back as a competitor primarily in the student market as either beginner or step-up instruments. In 1970 the ownership changed and the last York-built instrument was York Bicentennial Trumpet built at 1600 Division in Grand Rapids (below) in 1975.
In the years that followed, York was used as a stencil tradename by Boosey, Besson, Buffet, Carl Fischer, and finally in 2007, owned by the reconstituted Buffet-Crampon Group, it was assigned to the Schreiber & Keilwerth division operating in Markneukirchen. Had the USA line been built to the performance and durability standards of a Conn Director, Getzen or Bundy, York might have survived. The student market became the primary market around 1960 and no company can compete today, outside of niche markets, unless it can compete in that market. The York factory at 1600 Division Street in Grand Rapids shown previously is shown below in a photo taken after its closure below left and in 2012 after its demolition and widening of Division Avenue at right.
Late 1970 or 1971 saw the tragic end of the 67 year old Sistek Music in Cleveland. Robbers shot and killed James J. Sistek Jr., looted and burned the store. Though the third generation, James R. Sistek was also working in the business at the time, he elected not to rebuild the store.
In 1971, two more corporate leadership teams threw in the towel selling to competitors. The relatively small Lyon company sold out to Selmer, who immediately ended all Lyon Band Instrument Production, retaining rights to the name for possible future use. Wurlitzer, which had stenciled and occasionally built brass instruments almost since it’s founding, and which had only recently purchased the Martin Band Instrument Company out of the bankruptcy of RMC, elected to retire from band instrument manufacturing, selling Martin to Leblanc USA. This had an impact on Holton, Leblanc’s first brass manufacturing acquisition, in that the Martin was seen as the premium brand by comparison. Leblanc research and development in brasswinds was consolidated at the Martin plant, transitioning Holton to just an imitator. However, only a new Committee survived as a Martin. There is a Wallace Roney story that Schilke spent many hours telling designer Larry Ramirez exactly how he had “messed up” the horn.
F.E. Olds experimented in the early 70s with brass lined plastic valve casings that accepted interchangeable pistons in the Olds Pinto/ Reynolds Ranger trumpets. The differential thermal expansion issues as well as shock tolerance were not adequately considered and the model was not widely accepted. Below is a 1974 Olds Pinto with a cracked second valve casing.
Another experimental technology at Olds in the early 1970s was the “Ultrasonic” bell. These appeared on several prior models that had been designated with -10 model numbers. These were incremented to -12 models including the S-12 Olds Super Ultrasonic, the M-12 Olds Mendez Ultrasonic, and the P-12 Olds Custom Ultrasonic. The ultrasonic bell technology was impressive sounding and certainly a smart marketing move, as it was actually far less expensive to manufacture than any of the alternatives. The ultrasonic bells were molded from tube stock rather than being rolled and brazed out of a brass sheet. This process was the inverse of how tapered tubes were typically formed in brass instrument making – that being to force a mandrel inside of them. These tapered sections were formed instead by placing the stock inside of a mold for the bell shape and detonating an explosive charge. This created a true one-piece bell in an instant that needed only a quick spin to finalize it. While Olds marketed these as an improved tempering technique, Dale Olsen has confirmed that it was primarily cost cutting.
One other trumpet was built using the Ultrasonic bell, though it did not have that in the official name, and which also used the same open inline piston porting as the Pinto/Ranger. This was the Olds V-102 SuperStar, a pro-level commercial/lead trumpet design that was priced alongside the Recording and just slightly below the top of the Olds line, the Mendez. These were cost competitive with the Bach Strad at the time. Below is a 1972 Olds Superstar.
By 1972, Holton broke with tradition and produced a limited number of professional level trumpets with a high model number. Previously, quality had correlated with the lower model number with the student lines occupying the highest five and six hundred ranges. This horn was the T-747, a copy of the Model 47 Symphony from pre-Leblanc days, except that a less expensive saddle replaced the third valve slide trigger, necessitating half-reversed slide construction, and the still rose brass one piece bell was made thinner, lighter, harder and with a more narrow taper approaching the flare. A 1972 T-747 is below with a table summarizing the difference in bell geometry ahead of the rim.
Holton also revamped the Collegiate trumpet again, moving the water keys to a standard configuration with the brace on the tuning slide. This was the T-602 configuration from 1972 to before 1977 only. An example from 1972 is below.
CBS shocked the musical world in 1972, adding the legendary piano maker Steinway & Sons to it’s growing portfolio of instrument makers. The reasons for a broadcaster to want to make instruments were not clear to anyone.
That same year, Donald Benge sold the family firm to Nate Dolin’s King Musical Instruments. Research and Development halted in favor of leveraging the portfolio. This did not change until the King 2000 family launched in 1979. King immediately began ramping up production volumes and cutting corners on the construction of the formerly artist-grade Benge trumpets. Not realizing what the owners had in mind, Zigmant Kanstul left FE Olds to run the new Benge plant in Los Angeles. Olds had deteriorated badly due to emphasis on producing more with less.
Because labor reforms were not considered possible, all cost savings to become competitive with Yamaha had to be achieved through product quality concessions. It did not work. Below is an Olds Ambassador cornet from 1972, which embodied this trend.
Overseas, the brass instrument workshop of Salvationist Publishing and Supplies passed to the control of Boosey & Hawkes, who had been building most of the Salvation Army low brass for many decades.
There was one positive development in 1972, which was the establishment of a small specialty leadpipe and custom trumpet shop by Cliff Blackburn.
Holton in 1972 reached a deal with Maynard Ferguson for the ST30X line of mid-level artist-linked trumpets. The line included:
ST-301, (.468 bore)
ST-302, (.468 bore)
LT-302, (.468 bore) - Lightweight construction
ST-303, (.468 bore) - "MF Firebird Model"
ST-304, (.468 bore)
ST-305, (.484 bore) – “MF Banana horn”
ST-306, (.468 bore) - ST-302 with the valve block from the T-101
ST-307, (.468 bore) - reversed construction, rounded tuning slide
ST-308, (.459 bore) - reversed construction, rounded tuning slide
ST-550, (.460 bore) – Student line horn
Below is an original ST304 Maynard Ferguson Model from 1972. The leadpipe is a replacement.
Below is a 1980s ST-550 MF Admiral. The water keys and valve caps varied on this Courtois based model.
Around the same time, possibly in cooperation with Bud Brisbois, Holton introduced the ST200 Model. Below is an ST200 from 1979. This example is intact, but held together in multiple spots with glue!
The energy shock of the Arab Oil Embargo stifled all business transactions for the next couple of years, but in 1975, another entrepreneur set up shop to produce specialty trumpet mouthpieces and tinker with artist’s horns. That was Giardenelli. The Giardenelli shop, much like Schilke’s, became a hang-out for trumpet players and tinkerers, as well as the training grounds for a new generation of trumpet craftsmen and restoration specialists who would go on in future decades to salvage the best of the past and create new top notch instruments on a very small scale.
As noted above, the year of the American Bicentennial, 1976, saw the end of the JW York Company. Production of the student grade products ended and all assets were sold. The plant went the way of almost all American instrument factories, being abandoned and then demolished. Also that year, Cleveland Musical Instruments co-founder, trumpet maker and founder of Sistek Music James W. Sistek Sr. died in 1976 at the age of 94 in a nursing home, having outlived his business and his son.
Leblanc was quite creative, or perhaps disorganized with regard to model names and numbers in the 1960s and 70s. The distinction between T (trumpet) and ST (special trumpet) could change year to year on the same horn, or tie two completely different instruments together artificially by the number that followed. For example, in the 1970s, Holton sold trumpets marked as ST-602. These were not the T-602 student/collegiate design and shared some features with the second T-500. Below is a 1977 example.
That can then be compared to this, probably 1980s, T-602 base student model below.
The two are vastly different horns, varying in valve throw, valve porting, main brace placement, slide stop mechanism, wrap height/length, bell taper and slide radius. The two instruments are presumed closely related because of the 602 designation, but to a far greater degree than the pre-Leblanc Model 45 and Model 48 that came in both Revelation and Deluxe versions, with at least the leadpipe and bell in common by number, they are unrelated other than incidentally. The original post-merger Holton T-602, as a renaming of the Collegiate 508, also bore little resemblance to either of the above.
The line between student and step-up or even semi-professional at Holton became blurred at during this period. The Maynard models were seen as professional in the marketplace even though Holton’s numbering scheme indicated that these models were a step down from the professional T-1## series horns as well as the then artist-linked T-200. Likewise, the ST-602 above is considerably more refined than the clearly student T-602, but the use of the same 602 designation left the market unable to distinguish between the two.
With the playing and tonal characteristics of even the 100 series horns having diminished considerably not just from the Models 45, 47, 48, 49 and 51, but from the original Galaxy, the Holton trumpets had slipped in general more toward the student market – as had the Conn line-up. This blurring of the lines extended to cornets as well. The Holton C-### system left some ambiguity as to what market a given cornet had been intended for as the third digit was, at best, the only delimiter. The lower digits were student, the higher were advanced.
By 1977, Yamaha launched one of the last trumpets influenced by Renold Schilke, the YTR-739T. This horn appears to have been aimed at the successful King Silver Flair, and has similar response and tonal characteristics in addition to the first valve slide trigger. The horn centers a little more firmly than a King, which is unique among the Schilke-influenced, or out-right designed, Yamaha horns that preceded this model. The 739-T was only built for a few years, but sold well. Below is a 1979 example.
Holton launched a new cornet, the C-100, in 1978. The model ran through the 1990s, but is incredibly obscure, having sold very few units.
In 1979, Boosey & Hawkes ended manufacture of instruments under the Salvation Army name. The same year, the F.E. Olds Company was shut down and the assets were auctioned as Norlin lost money at an alarming rate. By 1985, the Norlin company, which had a market capitalization of less than 79 million dollars in 1975, would lose 158 million. The Olds and Reynolds names were purchased by an investment group that used them to stencil off-shore produced instruments.
At the end of the 1970s, Selmer had also expanded the Bundy line adding the 1551 shepherds crook cornet to its 1961 Bach-designed 1531 model. The 1551 would become the Bach CR-310 cornet a decade later. A circa 1979 Bundy 1551 cornet is below.
The Reagan Recovery did not extend to Band Instruments
In 1980, KHS Music established the Jupiter name, but without any product. Dan Henkin brought the next wave of consolidation buying and merging the Collier MacMillan owned firms including Conn and Scherl & Roth with Artley, and in 1981 W.T. Armstrong.
Henkin moved corporate offices back to Elkhart Indiana, attempting to leverage the tradition and, if he could have also returned the manufacturing operations, dispel some of the quality concerns that had plagued the company since its move. That, however, was not to be. The corporate offices, however, would remain in Elkhart into the Twenty-first century.
One of Henkin’s first moves to alter the image of Conn was to hire Tonight Show band-leader and renowned trumpeter Doc Severinsen as Vice President of Product Development. Severinsen had teamed with the Getzen company in the early 1970s to produce the Getzen Eterna 900 Severinsen trumpet. However, word leaked out early on that Doc’s own horns had umarked Bach bells on them rather than the Getzen. Henkin immediately supported the creation of what would be a line of several Severinsen trumpets from Conn in the 1980s. Below is what is generally considered the base model of this line, the Conn 1000B Severinsen Bb trumpet. While it may have been the base model, Doc Severinsen was actually spotted playing these on occasion along with the more expensive SS models. What is curious about this example however is that the serial number, beginning with an “S”, appears to place it in 1972 according to the corporation’s and the commonly understood serial number sequences
The phenomena of these “S” serial numbers on Conns that should by there model be much later is not unique in this horn. Occurrences of this are somewhat common, calling into question the current understanding of Conn serial numbers. The other possibility, of course, is that in 1980, Henkin found a stash of 1972 valve blocks and decided to re-use them despite whatever reasoning had resulted in their previously not being utilized.
One other trait associated with Doc Severinsen and Getzen, though it is unclear who influenced whom on this, is the use of Amado water keys in place of the traditional levers. These caught on widely during this period in no small part due to the influence Doc’s name on the Getzen and then these Conn trumpets.
Also in 1981, Buffet was acquired by Boosey and Hawkes. This minor acquisition at the time would prove to be fantastically influential on the European band instrument industry of the Twenty-first century, as it would be Buffet that would emerge from the Music Group debacle, still attached to many names through Boosey and Fischer, and become the sole super-power of European instrument making.
Around this time, Leblanc built a handful of horns addressing the belief by some players that the gap between mouthpiece shank and leadpipe end was a critical determinant of tone. The Holton T-100X was fitted with a receiver that could be threaded out and in to adjust the gapping minutely. The horn also differs in some ways from the prior T-100/ST-100 horns, as can be seen in the ca. 1981 example below.
Jim Stella, the plant manager for Getzen’s Elkhorn plant in the 2010s, has recounted his participation in the design of the Holton T-101 and subsequent T-102, T-103 and LT-101 (lightweight T-101) trumpets. In 1981, at Leblanc’s Elkhart Martin Plant he disassembled an Elkhart Bach Stradivarius 37 that had been bought after play-testing to find the best in a local music store. Every detail of the horn was painstakingly measured and those dimensions formed the specifications for the T-101. Stella proudly recounts that the horn still played perfectly after he put it back together. The T-102 was then given a Bach 43 bell clone and the T-103 a Bach 72 bell clone. Below is a circa 1990 Leblanc Holton T-101.
The LT-101 was the same design as the T-101, but built of lighter gage material and designed, much like the Holton Don Berry had been, to be a very light horn with both body and bell so constructed. Below is a 1990s LT-101 built after the second brace had been removed from the design. This example was found in a Martin case that resembles a Holton from the outside, but features the plush interior elements associated with Bach cases on the interior.
In 1982, Zigmant Kanstul established his own firm. Two years later, he purchased the Benge facility in Los Angeles as Dan Henkin shut down the Benge brand. He would use it to produce replicas of some of the great instruments of the band era, including York low brass and French Besson trumpets so precise and excellent in quality, that Boosey & Hawkes retained Kanstul to build new Bessons, such as the Meha model, under the Besson name. Kanstul also began building trumpets in the Besson/Benge style under his own name. With a lineage of apprenticeships back through Reynolds, York, Esbach, Graves, and the Keats, the Kanstul firm is unrivaled in its claim to historical roots.
Below is a Kanstul F. Besson MEHA trumpet. This particular example appears to have been dropped and then repaired to far less than original condition. In the course of straightening the bell, it was punctured multiple times and is repaired with large crude patches in many places. The leadpipe has also been patched, though by comparison, that patch appears minor. Remarkably, it still plays, as the bell past the valve body braces is undamaged.
Contrary to rumor and bell crest, Kanstul horns are clearly marked in the Besson stamp as Kanstul-made.
1983 saw the establishment of another small custom trumpet maker, in the tradition of the ancient craftsmen, much like Blackburn a few years earlier. This was David G. Monette. Monette trumpets would rapidly become the new Schilke, as Schilke trumpets displaced Bach as the mainstream professional brand in the coming decades.
Dan Henkin bought King and Benge in 1983 and converted Benge to a stencil on Eastlake built King horns the next year, calling the new company United Musical Instruments. The King 2000 series gave way to the model 2055 and 2065 Flair trumpets, intermediate models with considerable Bach influence.
In late 1983, seeing Yamaha’s success, the Taiwanese firm KHS Music followed the Yamaha model and also entered the US school market aggressively with a strong presence at all conferences and conventions.
Like Yamaha, they also copied excellent designs, the Yamaha catalog, and added their own engineering to the product focusing on something Yamaha had begun to exploit from the research and artist level products of Holton, Conn and Martin, high-copper brass. Jupiter, as KHS named the brand, worked at building their instruments as light as possible not just to save on manufacturing costs such as material, wear on dies, fuel for soldering/brazing, and hydraulics, but because it produced a very responsive low-mass instrument that was neither brittle nor brash in tone. An added benefit discovered in that decade was that red brass leadpipes were far more corrosion resistant than the yellow brass ones used in most other instruments, and which were particularly problematic for Bach and Yamaha.
By making horns that looked different, and also due in no small part to quality perceptions related to being “Chinese”, Jupiter had a tough uphill battle to win away the market share from Yamaha that they had so recently carved out of Conn-Selmer. Jupiter did not achieve the same quality of product, either in function or durability, as Yamaha with many of their instruments. One notable exception is the trumpet, which Jupiter based on a total reworking of Bach’s design instead of the Yamaha Schilke designs. These horns played well and proved quite durable, while the Yamahas had a high mortality rate within a decade or two of manufacture – a problem the rest of the Jupiter instruments seemed to have. Jupiter euphoniums, French horns, tubas and trombones from the early years are quite hard to find - most having succumbed to problems with their lightweight construction.
Above is an example of the instrument that was responsible for KHS gaining a foothold in the US school market while Yamaha was beating them in most other categories: a Jupiter JTR600-NR trumpet with traditional nickel valves, red brass bell and gold brass leadpipe. This horn was built in Jupiter’s first full year in the United States, 1984, was a music store rental for some period of time, and wound up in a Dallas Salvation Army store in 2012. Its second valve bottom cap had to be replaced and the pinkie ring rests in the case waiting to be re-attached, but after considerable hard use, it still functions well and plays very well – among the best sounding student horns ever built.
1985 saw more entrepreneurship as smaller firms sprang up to fill the voids created by consolidation and closure of the older, bigger names. At Allied Music, sons Tom and Edward Getzen, grandsons of the founder TJ Getzen, assumed control of the company and began looking for ways for the family to be involved in instrument making again. Edward immediately began the firm Edwards to build professional grade trombones and later trumpets. At the same time, their family firm, Getzen, was acquired by Charlie Andrews., and the Getzens no-doubt began exploring their options there as well.
CBS reversed course and began divesting itself of the illogically purchased collection of instrument makers. Fender was sold to its employees and the name to Rogers Drums along with. Production of the percussion line was halted. The following year, Steinway was sold to an investor group incorporated under the holding company name of Steinway Musical Properties, although for the first several years, the wholly owned Steinway & Sons was the only property.
1986 was a hectic one in the band instrument industry. Carl Fischer bought the Boosey & Hawkes conglomerate including Boosey, Besson, Buffet, Crampon, and rights to the Salvation Army and York names. Dan Henkin’s holdings were restructured as United Musical Instruments, a firm that would become known for producing the worst instruments made under all of its brand names in their histories as cost-cutting and return maximization became the controlling concern. Those brands included Scherl & Roth, C.G. Conn, King, Benge, Artley and W.T. Armstrong among others.
Gibson Guitars also passed to the investment partnership of Juszkiewicz & Berryman as Norlin folded.
Carl Fischer, while an old name in the music industry, was also looking primarily for profit and decimated the instrument makers it had acquired, being more interested in what the names could be applied to, than it was in the expensive and outdated productive capacity. A group of craftsmen displaced from Boosey & Hawkes, but determined not to see traditional York/Besson/Boosey style low brass production vanish, established the firm Sterling Instruments in 1987.
Bach’s redesign of the Bundy trumpet had proven quite successful in the market. After decades of refining his .459 bore design, experimenting on family and friends, and learning all of the corners that could be cut to keep costs down without impacting the viability of the instrument for student use, he was ideally suited to design a quantum leap forward in student trumpets. It is fitting that in the late 1980s, As Selmer contracted and consolidated, the Bundy trumpets would be replaced by student line horns bearing the Bach name.
Above is the direct descendant of Bach’s design for the Bundy, a Bach student lineTR-300 built in 1988 that intriguingly bears the serial number of a 1981 Bundy on its valve casing instead of the 1988 Conn sequence in use for Bach student line horns. This is not uncommon; suggesting that a stash of pre-manufactured Bundy trumpet parts was discovered and used on the next generation. After this design, building good playing, not necessarily well in tune, but proper sounding and reasonably responsive student line instruments became a necessity for any large instrument maker to prosper.
The wave of transformative mergers was then followed by two years of additional cost cutting and reworking of the industry, closing operations but not finding a way to address the fundamental issue of abusive labor unions and the lack of viability for any operation not shuttered. That fact maintained the trend of converting from instrument manufacturing in the United States to stenciling product made offshore. As a result, at the end of the decade, Taiwanese Gulf Musical Instruments reincorporated as Gulf Musical Instruments Jaishan, shifting its focus to the Jaishan province cooperative in mainland China. Another Taiwanese firm was also established, joining Gulf and KHS, Hoxon Gakki Co which operated in the US as Carol Brass.
The 1980s had been a period of recovery from the significantly depressed economic conditions that began in the mid-1970s after the energy crisis with rampant inflation paralleled by rising unemployment. The recession of 1980-81 saw significant additional unemployment, but then the economy rebounded in the US, and to some extent globally, as a new American imperialist mood emerged in contrast to the anti-war sentiment of the preceding decade. Under President Reagan, the US quickly ended, through little more than intimidation, the humiliating Iranian hostage crisis, and then several smaller challenges to American domination of the hemisphere in places such as Grenada.
Employing strategies of mind games and money as opposed to actual combat ranging from the end of the Hostage Crisis, to the tact of supplying arms to both Iran and Iraq as they fought each other so as to keep them distracted and too crippled to act against the US while using the funds raised to support a proxy insurgency in communist Nicaragua, the administration asserted US power on a global scale. This strategy extended to making clear the US would no-longer participate in the ABM treaty, funding new improved missiles and bombers, new armored vehicles, and two new lines of intermediate range missiles for placement in Europe that in truth would not have worked if ever needed. This tactic amounted to simply outspending the obsolete and crippled Soviet economy. By the end of the decade, as President Reagan turned over the White House to his former Vice President, global communism was simply bankrupt.
In November of 1989, the Berlin Wall, symbol of the East-West political divide, fell. However, it was just the most visible evidence of the fall of communism that was well underway. In Czechoslovakia, the state cooperatives that had consolidated all of the instrument makers of the old Austro-Hungarian tradition, were dismantled. The core of the cooperative became an independent firm named Amati Kraslice, while V.F. Cerveney became an independent firm owned by what the state determined was the family heirs (although actually Vaclav Cerveny’s last heir died in the 1920s and the firm had been owned by Karel Samal at the time of consolidation. The Schreiber & Keilwerth firms emerged as a unified entity some time later, when East Germany also dissolved its cooperative. The Lidl firm was returned to the decedents of Joseph Lidl in Brno.
Also in 1989, the Couesnon firm, financially wiped out by the arson fire, restructured as the small family firm of PGM Couesnon. Consisting of just a few family members and friends, it became a boutique maker of hunting horns and other novelties as well as a few semi-custom flugelhorns.
Finally, Leon Leblanc, having no heirs, sold the family business to his friend of 45 years, Vito Pascucci and his Leblanc USA. Pascucci had named his son, who would briefly head Leblanc, Leon in honor of Leon Leblanc many years earlier.
The Leblanc take-over of Holton had resulted in a family of cornets as detailed here:
C-201 Lauriat (professional long model cornet with trigger, throw and red brass bell)
C-301 Revelation (professional shepherds crook short cornet with red brass bell)
C-401 Galaxy (affordable long model all nickel silver construction cornet) and C-401N in nickel on brass
C-500 Al Hirt
These were replaced by the 1980s by a new set:
C-603 (professional shepherds crook short cornet with trigger, throw and rose brass bell)
C-604 (intermediate model long cornet)
C-605 (intermediate model shepherds crook cornet)
These were ambiguous as to professional vs. student in the numbering of C-603, C-604 and C-605.
A C-603 is below.
And a C-605.
In 1990, trombonist Steve Shires expanded his hobby of building artist level, semi-custom, trombones into a small brass workshop in the Giardenelli and Schilke tradition. He soon hired a number of the best trumpet craftsmen including apprentices of Renold Schilke. The firm expanded into trumpets and would, within the decade, take on Eastman as a client for trumpet designs when Quan Ni decided to expand the product line to include affordable trumpets.
In 1991, the horn that follows was made in the Town of Slavutych, North of Kiev in far Western Ukraine. Slavutych was one of the best places to live in the Soviet Union in its day – other than a staggering cancer rate. It was built hurriedly in 1986 following the disastrous explosion of reactor #3 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Station and the evacuation of the town of Pripyat that followed hours later. It sat only a half hour away by rail, built at a former depot called Nefra, and served as home to the technicians who operated the plant until it was shut down in 2001, and the clean-up workers who remain employed at the site to the present day. By happenstance of air currents, its location is a peninsula of relatively uncontaminated land jutting into the East side of the exclusion zone. Workers changed trains and clothes multiple times during their daily commutes to keep it free from contamination.
Those employed at the power station and at the secret weapons laboratory in another Pripyat business were among the best and brightest of the Soviet Union. Typically young families with advanced education and higher than average incomes populated Pripyat, and, as is often the case, the arts flourished in this community. Slavutych was built with this in mind and enjoyed a wealth of educational as well as recreational resources. With the tall apartment blocks built on small footprints, each named for the city from which the workers who built it had come, and the Dachas clustered tightly together, a significant amount of the precious little clean landmass was preserved for greenspace, parks, and play areas. The apartments were new and larger than average with the best appurtenances. And, among the businesses that were transplanted to this island of the Kiev Oblast, deep within another but so designated for political advantage for the party hierarchy that had also been transplanted, was an instrument factory.
What makes the example that follows so interesting, besides being an example of a high-end Soviet trumpet of the late Cold War period, is that it still includes the original documentation (albeit somewhat radioactive due to cesium absorbed by the vegetation and ultimately carried into the paper pulp).
The documentation lists assorted specification for the case (TY 205 [USSR] 401-80) and for the horn itself (PCT [USSR] 588-88u “General specification for wind musical instruments”). The last page is a proof of purchase document which provides the mailing address for the factory and at the very bottom is marked in small print with certification from the Russian Anti-piracy Organization with a serial number from them, L4 458. What is truly amazing about this documentation though, is that it includes branding, a practice forbidden in Communist economies as brands were just a way of tricking the consumer into buying what they wanted instead of what the state determined they need – a very destabilizing practice.
None-the-less, in big bold letters on both the front and back covers when folded, this documentation proclaimed in quotes the name <<ORPHEUS>>. The unique logo of the collective also appears prominently on the front cover and on the bell of the horn.
One may reasonably conclude that the collective was seeing the collapse of the Soviet Union, and with it, the end of the managed economy that had controlled the market demand for their product. Perhaps they were attempting to establish a brand that might ensure their survival as an independent business. That did not happen, though more likely due to the de-population and subsequent decline of Slavutych following the shut-down of the reactor than to any marketing mis-steps.
The horn was purchased by a family for their child to participate in school music programs which had always been both strong and popular in the USSR. Both music and education declined after the fall of the Soviet Union and the horn wound up in storage for decades before being sold to a trader in the war zone in SouthWest Ukraine in 2016.
Shortly after this was made, the collectives were privatized such as what was once the largest Russian firm, the Zimmerman works in Leningrad, which had been established by a German immigrant, as most brass shops were, with facilities also in Riga, Moscow, London and Leipzig. Julius Heinrich Zimmermann (1851-1923) had opened a music store in 1875 that rapidly grew to this, but lost the firm in the revolution. The modern St. Petersburg Wind Instrument Factory website states that all designs and tools were lost in the Revolution (probably as craftsmen fled West) and the company re-started from scratch as a collective.
As the East German cooperatives were dismantled (along with the East German state), the core operations became known as B&S, a tradename of TA Musik GMBH, JV Meinl and Triumph-Adler continuing in cooperation. Also in 1991, the Getzen brothers reacquired the family firm.
In 1992, TA Musik separately reincorporated it’s component Antoine Courtois, making that firm the oldest band instrument company in existence. That same year, the Lidl family sold their company to investors.
In 1993, Leblanc purchased and absorbed it’s one time parent, Leblanc Paris. The Paris name was continued on the woodwind products.
1994, saw more consolidation in the overall industry as Gibson bought Slingerland and the 1992 founded Chinese maker of string instruments, Eastman, purchased William S. Haynes Flutes. Eastman was the venture of a Chinese national, Quan Ni, impressed by Capitalist ideas while a college music student in the United States. Believing that Chinese workers could produce instruments in the same tradition as well as quality as the Bohemian stencil makers of a century earlier, he began importing strings from small workshops in his home region of China and selling them under the anglicized name Eastman.
In 1996, the old firm of Verne Q. Powell Flutes was purchased by Steve Wasser. CBS was purchased by Westinghouse and spun off the Lyon & Healy Harp Company. Jupiter also saw this as a time for expansion, launching the Mapex Drums line of marching percussion instruments.
In 1997, Carl Fischer merged with Bote & Bock. The firm would continue to struggle.
Zeus Trumpets emerged as another new small premium maker in 1998, with actual production contracted from Kanstul.
The end of the decade saw Edward Getzen take sole ownership of the family firms other than Allied, which had been sold earlier.
One other event of the 1990s, though the precise timing is difficult to nail down, was the cheapening of the Holton T-101 trumpet line. The visible sign of this was the removal of one of the two main braces, but the more significant change was the reduction in quality from a professional level Bach clone, to an intermediate level instrument.
The New Century
In the Twenty-first Century, the American band instrument market returned to a pattern similar to what was typical at the end of the Nineteenth: much of what was available came from inexpensive offshore suppliers - mostly based in China.
In the year 2000, Steinway Musical Properties expanded dramatically, merging with United Musical Instruments and eliminating that tarnished name. The brands consolidated included Steinway & Sons, Armstrong, Artley, Benge, King, Conn, and Scherl & Roth.
That same year, Leblanc’s Holton division produced a special edition trumpet. The LT-101 was a Leblanc light-weight variation on the T-101 copy of a Bach Stradivarius 37. In the 1990s, Leblanc cheapened the original exacting Bach specifications for the T-10X line, and the later horns such as this lack the brace on the tuning slide that was featured on the original Bach copies. The tuning slide appears to be slightly reshaped by this as well. This was the last Holton model that Leblanc would release before selling the company.
The TM-2000 limited release version of what then became the T-105 included extensive gold plate detailing in addition to its silver-plate. The Millennial Editions were made using 100 left-over LT-101 bodies outfitted with standard weight T-101 bells according to Jim Stella. This then became the T-105 design in 2001. The gold/silver mix was a popular upgrade option for some other makes at the same time. For those with all-silver-plate horns, upgrade kits of gold plated finger buttons, spit keys, and caps were available to combine with one’s gold-plated mouthpiece on Yamaha Xeno, Jupiter XO, and Bach Stradivarius trumpets.
Below is a 2000 Holton TM-2000 trumpet.
In 2001, the German firm Meinl merged with Triumph-Adler (TA Musik), bringing together the B&S, Meinl and Antoine Courtois brands. That same year, the Lyons name was sold to the Woodwind & Brasswind Stores, the chain and e-retailer, for use in stenciling offshore product. Also, production of brass instruments under the Boosey & Hawkes label halted. Besson continued.
In 2002, the exclusively e-retail Musicians Friend bought the Giardenelli name for use stenciling step-up horns made in Markneukirchen by an unnamed supplier. Steve Wasser’s Powell Flutes started to produce the Sonare professional trumpets. Schilke Music Products was purchased by Andrew Nauman, a veteran of the Getzen company. The business model changed only slightly, with increased focus on producing more Bach-like instruments in addition to traditional Schilke designs. The staff is still made up entirely of musicians, and still provides advice to individual customers as one player to another.
2003 saw Artley shut down and the band instrument divisions of Carl Fisher restructured under a venture capital entity titled The Music Group, which decimated the member firms, losing all records of past product and technical knowledge. It also was the year of the coming together of more of the American Band Instrument industry, with the merger of Selmer into the Steinway Musical Properties group. This brought together Steinway & Sons, Armstrong, Benge, King, Conn, Scherl & Roth, Selmer, Buescher, Bundy, Vincent Bach, Ludwig, Musser, and in 2004, with the acquisition of Leblanc following Vito Pascucci’s 2003 death from kidney failure, also the Leblanc, Noblet, Vito, Frank Holton and Martin names all under the single umbrella of the renamed Steinway Musical Instruments. The company was structured into two divisions with Steinway and related keyboard businesses in the Steinway division, and the band instruments in the Conn-Selmer division.
In 2005, what was left of Carl Fischer was merged into the Theodor Presser publishing house. The venture into band instruments had destroyed the century old business. That same year, Blackburn Trumpets joined the Sonare joint venture.
The Music Group, looted of all valuable assets for quick returns to the investors, failed in 2006. The Meinl family and the B&S partnership with Triumph-Adler stepped in and rescued some of the old names under a newly crafted Buffet-Crampon Group. The Antoine Courtois Company was also transferred to this group. The surviving brands included Buffet, Crampon, Besson and Courtois, though these companies had to start over from nothing and create new designs for product as well as secure new, often Asian or Indian, manufacturing facilities. The York name also transferred to this group.
Vincent Bach died in 1976 having retired several years earlier. At Elkhart, the United Auto Workers union took control of the labor force at the plant. The union’s extreme division of labor resulted in a system where each workstation became a specialized skill and workers ceased knowing how to perform other functions. All quality issues were resolved by a specialized workforce of rework craftsmen at the end of the line. Over time, this staff grew to rival the size of the assembly staff and Bach’s quality/reputation declined. In the 1980s & 90s
By the early 2000s, Yamaha and Schilke began to take pieces of Bach’s market for top level horns. Below is an example of the professional Yamaha Xeno trumpets, a YTR-8335RG. It came into production around 2000 and is one of the most popular trumpets, named one of the top 5 trumpets year after year alongside the Bach Stradivarius, Kanstul 1000, Getzen 900 and its sibling the YTR-8310Z. This horn combines a Bach 37 bell taper and architecture with Schilke’s weight, leadpipe and slide concepts.
Yamaha filled void in the professional market from the demise of American manufacturing .The evolution of the medium and medium-large bore professional Yamaha trumpets is diagramed below.
Yamaha competitor Jupiter continued bringing new, excellent playing if still not that durable, products to the band instrument market. One of the more unique, built for only a few years in the first decade of the Twenty-first Century, was the Brigadier bugle. This was a classic US Regulation G/F bugle, but with a corrosion-resistant red brass leadpipe and an ML bore of .460”, which is fairly large for a bugle. An example is below.
Jupiter also expanded the JTR-60X line. Twenty-eight years after introducing the JTR600 in the US market, it is still in production basically unchanged. The JTR-606 model was added with some refinements gleaned from the feedback on 600s over many years and is a slightly more free-blowing horn with greater ability to control the tonal color. As such, many consider it an intermediate horn, though its intonation is clearly at a student horn level, requiring some effort to play in tune – though not much more than a TR-300.
The use of lightweight, high copper brass construction has become the norm in not just student, but even advanced horns from Kanstul and others, and quite a few stencil suppliers today build instruments that look, but certainly do not play or last, like Jupiter trumpets.
At the outset of the Twenty-first Century, the traditional nickel plated valves were supplanted in most manufacturers’ catalogs by monel, a brass alloy that is harder than CR steel. Jupiter was among the last to move toward this alloy, so late that some manufacturers reversed course back to nickel valves as Jupiter began to offer them. Jupiter experienced a serious problem with monel that may be the reason some others have abandoned it: micro-porosity. When the shell of the piston is machined down to its final size, with very close tolerances for the casing gap, the process exposes microscopic voids, or pores, in the metal. These then scavenge brass from the casing walls and become discolored (monel is silver) as if brass plated. The result of brass-on-brass contact with the very narrow gapping of these modern valves, which are the tightest ever made, results in what can best be called “mild corrosive occlusion”. The oxidized brass patch on the piston and the oxidized brass on the casing wall bind against one another. As of 2012, Jupiter was supplying replacement pistons free to any customer who asked.
Above is a 2011 Jupiter JTR606-MRL which was displayed at Hill Auditorium in Ann Arbor in 2012-14 as part of the Stearns’ “Evolution of the Modern Trumpet” exhibit. Its monel valves have experienced the porosity issue and a second set awaits trial. That notwithstanding, it is exemplary of the aesthetic norm and is among the musical best of student trumpets in the Twenty-first Century.
Throughout 2006 and 2007, the Guitar Center Group consolidated the retail and e-retail sector in the same way Steinway had consolidated American manufacturing. Musician’s Friend, Woodwind & Brasswind, Guitar Center, Music & Arts, and others were all united into a single conglomerate.
Bach had off-shored all but the Stradivarius Model due to out of control labor and benefit costs and had a customer complaint rate approaching the one in two mark. In 2007, Conn-Selmer attempted to reform labor rules and a three year strike ensued which ended with the UAW decertified, roughly one third of the prior workforce returning to make-up nearly half of the new one, significant savings that returned the TR-300 to US production, and new work rules requiring workers to be responsible for the correction of any errors they introduced. Long time Conn-Selmer manager and trumpet player Ted Waggoner was put in charge of the plant during the strike and instituted sweeping changes.
Below is a 2010 Bach Stradivarius 180SMLV72G trumpet with a #72 bell in gold brass, a Vindobona conical bore tuning slide reminiscent of the horns of Bach’s youth, and the #25 leadpipe.
In 2008, Yamaha North America expanded with the Rogers line of drums. The name was purchased from the Brook-Mays catalog stores, which had been using it to stencil product since 1996. Conn-Selmer ended production at, and under the names of, Buescher and Martin. Production at Holton Elkhorn also came to an end after 90 years, and the Benge name was taken out of use, though nothing resembling a Benge trumpet had been built in many years. This consolidation ultimately merged all Conn-Selmer brass production into a single American product line with many names stenciled on the products of the single former King facility in Eastlake. Low-cost no-warranty brands were made in China. Only Bach remained an independent operation after 2008.
2009 saw Sonare become a three-way venture with the inclusion of Blessing, which had been building the horns, and increased production was planned for its new Elkhart plant.
In 2010, the Buffet-Crampon Group expanded, buying Schreiber & Keilwerth. The York name was assigned to this company for stencil use. The following year, the Blessing plant was completed. Also, George Bundy’s name was sold by Conn-Selmer to the Guitar Center Group to become the stencil on a new line of poorly built Chinese trumpets.
2013 brought more change to the industry, with the placement of all remaining B&S names including Meinl-Weston under the umbrella of the Buffet-Crampon Group. Eastman acquired the bankrupt Shires Company and Steve Shires remained as a designer for Eastman. Steinway Musical Instruments underwent over a year of internal strife with the acquisition of more than a third of it’s shares by Korean investment group Samick. The company had made a great deal of money buying old, high quality, keyboard and string instrument companies and moving their production to Asia and Indonesia, changing designs, and utilizing the lowest quality cheap materials available in a greatly accelerated production process. For the first time, this move met with an outcry from the market and ultimately, Samick withdrew it’s support, but only after the ouster of the executives who had championed the Band Instrument division. Those executives attempted to buy Conn-Selmer, but the Steinway Board ultimately sold the company to the private venture capital firm run by hedge fund manager John Paulson.
By this time, cheap instruments constituted a considerable portion of annual band instrument sales. These include both Chinese and, as was the case over a century ago, the work of Bohemian craftsmen, now relocated to the new Germanic instrument making center of Markneukirchen. The 4th generation after those who were dispossessed and evicted from their ancestral home is reclaiming the role of cheap, and at times not so cheap, instrument makers to the world. With the acquisition of the Meinl family’s JA Musik companies, the reorganized Buffet-Crampon has moved the full spectrum of production to this city on the Southern border of Germany.
Perhaps the best selling cheap brand is Allora, which is actually made in Markneukirchen. Allora, along with Accent and Gerhard Baier, are brand names stenciled on instruments made by Vogtlandische Musikinstrumentenfabrik – “VMI” (Vogtland is a region of central Europe covering parts of Saxony, Thuringia, Bavaria and Bohemia, located immediately west of the Sudetenland, and in which Markneukirchen is located). VMI is the unmentioned division of JA Musik that provides the lower tier products of the group that includes Meinl-Weston, B&S, J. Scherzer, and at one time Antoine Courtois. All of these became brands of Buffet-Crampon Group, along with Buffet-Crampon Paris (with some French production remaining), Schreiber, Besson (with production primarily in India), Hans Hoyer and Keilwerth. The conglomerate also owns the J.W. York & Son name, though it is not in use.
By merging all of these brand names together, Buffet-Crampon has recovered from the ruins of The Music Group a collection of brand names that spans the spectrum from the worst quality bottom tier priced instruments to top professional brands such as Courtois trumpets, Besson euphoniums and Meinl tubas. Despite rumors, B&S and Courtois trumpets are not the same. The brands have distinctly different designs. The Challenger line serves as a second tier product for the advanced student or semi-pro player who cannot afford the Courtois price tag. At the low end, the VMI brands such as Allora produce a mix of poor quality but capable of lasting a year or two, and those that won’t even do that. But these brands can compete against the Chinese in the global catalog sales market. To protect their top brands, Buffet generally does not acknowledge VMI, or the brands it builds.
The market forces of the global economy pushed even Jupiter and Yamaha to move the bulk of their production to mainland China in partnership with firms part-owned by the state, part owned by the party elite. The significance of these partnerships given the hatred of the cultures involved for one another is testament to the economic realities of the Twenty-first century. While these business ventures continue to expand, China aggressively builds artificial islands to claim ever larger territorial waters out of the Pacific and has seized several natural landforms from Japan. In 2016, as the Taiwanese elect a more nationalist leadership, China has seized a number of Taiwanese nationals, having them deported to the mainland from third-party nations willing to appease China for trade preferences. Yet, China continues to swallow-up an ever greater percentage of instrument manufacturing.
The first such ventures for both firms were in facilities tightly controlled by the parent, and which seemed immune to the norms of Chinese manufacturing – those being theft of intellectual property, ignoring of quality standards, and loose controls on production and scrap. In 2016, at least for Yamaha, the pendulum seems to have swung toward modern Chinese tradition. At least one top-line Yamaha instrument, a 2013-released $2,400.00 MSRP professional cornet, became available through EBay fronts for $350-$400, unmarked, but unmistakably the same instrument. Companies such as Shan Dong Taishan, which produce instruments for others to stencil have been selling close clones, such as the Taishan 805 trumpet being the same horn as is sold under other names (a Bach 37 clone). But typically, the supplier makes minor alterations for each stencil. The un-named cornet is an exception, being completely identical. One might speculate that the Chinese supplier is taking inventory off the production line prior to it being marked, and selling it cheap - a “back door” sales channel. At the very least, Yamaha intellectual property has been usurped, allowing the production of a replica far closer than the famed Holton T-101 was to the Bach Strad it was copied from.
These could be horns that fail Yamaha QC for some reason. The 2016 example below has a receiver that has been over-honed and the Yamaha literature shows the same for the 8335, with the mouthpiece shown deep into the receiver. It is abnormally sharp in tuning, but plays at a level far beyond any cheap knock-off instrument. Many aspects all suggest that it is an actual YCR-8335G(S) and the blank spaces can be seen where the Yamaha markings would go.
In March 2016, Powell Flutes was sold to the Buffet-Crampon Group in Marknuekirchen that includes JA Musik. The Sonare Brasswinds joint venture with Blackburn & Blessing promptly vanished. The Blessing plant in Elkhart was closed and production moved off-shore, the product line-up being replaced by a new set of inexpensive stencil instruments. The irony of a prolific stencil maker becoming a stencil name was not lost on those who noticed.
In 2017 the Buffet-Crampon group restructured focusing each brand on certain instruments. While Besson continued as the premier euphonium name, Meinl as the premier tuba, Schertzer as the premier horn, and so on, Antoine Courtois was transformed into the premier trombone line with flugels as well. Production of the rather unique Evolution line, as well as all other Courtois trumpet designs that might be built, was discontinued. The Besson name continued to appear on trumpets, but only two student models made in India. The premier trumpet brand for Buffet-Crampon became B&S, primarily featuring the Challenger line of Bach clones.
In this second decade of the century, the Stearns Collection at the University of Michigan opted to look to the trumpet as the ideal topic for a feature exhibition that would accompany the 100th anniversary of Hill Auditorium in Ann Arbor during the 2012-2013 school year. The exhibit followed the evolution of the modern trumpet, in far less detail than the foregoing discussion, but did so with 18 examples spanning 4500 years and many illustrations. Below are photos from the exhibit which ran through summer 2014.
And from the Life Long Learning lecture on February 27th, 2013 - during a blizzard.
The exhibit was, for much of its second year, the only exhibit of the Stearns Collection following a change in leadership and elimination of other display spaces by unrelated construction.
It will be noted that semi-custom to individually built to order names favored by Twenty-first Century artists such as Monette, Taylor, Blackburn, ZeuS, Edwards, and Shires are not included in the collection. As was the case with Schilke in the 1960s and 70s, and Bach in the 20s and 30s, these brands are known to top players, but are very low volume producers. Beyond the financial challenge of including these instruments, the goal of this collection is to capture the instruments more commonly played. None of the aforementioned names have yet expanded to the scale of a major maker in the way that Bach and Schilke did. When that happens to one, perhaps it will be added.
Low Quality Brands
It should also be noted that the here-today-gone-tomorrow catalog brand names of Prelude (a Conn-Selmer import brand), Accent, Etude, Giardinelli (the name now applied to low-quality horns from MarkneuKirchen), and many, many others are not included. When playable, these are no different than the hundreds of briefly used names of a century earlier. However, unlike those old horns that are still around and able to be played poorly to this day, the quality of these is such that most will not last, and none are worth keeping. The collection has ample Allora and Bohemian made examples in this category.
There are the “mainstream” names, such as Allora and Bundy (purchased to use as a stencil by the Guitar Center Group), and at a slightly higher quality level (remaining functional for longer than the lifespan of the average fruit fly), brands such as Eastman. Eastman, while widely known and now the owner of the Shires name as well as Steve Shires’ future designs, as of the present time builds poor trumpets that do not generally meet the criteria of being representative of commonly played (at least for a reasonable amount of time without having the valves fail, or other frustrating issues) instruments. By 2015, Eastman offered 3 models, the ETR-420 entry level, the ETR-520 step-up, and the ETR-821/822 advanced student models. Below is an 21st century Eastman ETR-420 trumpet that appears to be in operational condition after several years of use.
The Allora brand is more representative of the typical inexpensive catalog trumpet of the 21st century. Allora models range in price from as low as $150 to several hundred. They are typically built in the same combinations of yellow brass, red brass and nickel as comparable Asian product. While closely resembling Jupiter instruments, they do not have the response, tone, or marginal durability, though many examples do survive for years in the hands of students - a frequent, but not consistent property.
Below is an Allora AATR-101, the primary Allora product of the 2010s. This fairly decent playing example appeared on EBay in the Summer of 2016, and looks to be a 2015 model that was hardly used (if at all).
Below is an Allora TR-1301, an example of the latest fad in cheap student instruments, plastic horns. Plastic horns can play like a trumpet, but this example is a demonstration of the norm for these under $100 toys that do not, or will not for long. By its label, it was made November 2, 2015 and was on EBay by April 2016 as a non-functional wreck with a replaced piston (all 3 stick badly in ever more warped casings), a broken pinkie hook (common to every such the author has seen – gummed in place for the picture) and a slide that falls out (and leaks) due to being too small. Perhaps the student who was afflicted with this has another, better, instrument now such as an old Bundy or Director. However, far more often, the frustrations for a beginner attempting to learn on a non-functional instrument result in that student abandoning the pursuit. The harm caused by these cheap horns is immense.
Let us hope that they fade away, before the art of playing them does as a consequence of their nature.