Early Conn Trumpet in Bb
This trumpet isn't as rare or historically important as most
instruments that I try to feature on this site, but it is 100 years
old this year and is interesting in being from the time when
trumpets were beginning to be used in popular music.  Sousa's
and other large bands had been including them regularly for a
decade or more and they were showing up on the Chataqua
circuit. Conn had been making trumpets since at least 1881,
although the earliest listed for sale were F trumpets, both with
and without valves.  I haven't been able to determine when
Conn first started making Bb trumpets, but it was at least by
1899, when they are illustrated in their catalogs.  Two extant
instruments made in 1903 belonging to
Bill Faust and Mark
Metzler appear very much like this illustration.  A very similar
trumpet is also in Mark Metzler's collection and a slight
variation is advertised in 1906 in Conn's "Truth".  They are
pictured below and are remarkable for having a spring return
trigger on the third slide, a mechanical option rarely seen on
trumpets before the 1950s.  These early examples also utilize
Conn's 1886 patent valves, which were removed from
production shortly after.  During the years between 1900 and
1915 Conn continually redesigned many of their instruments
including cornets and trumpets.  I've seen at least six distinct
models of trumpets by Conn between 1903 and 1911.  In
Conn's promotional material, they insist on their trumpets being
very different in character from their cornets, but close
inspection reveals that they share many parts. Compared with a
large bore Perfected Wonder cornet from the same time, the
valve section of this trumpet is identical aside from different
porting and if the bells are not made on the same mandrel, they
are appear to be identical measurements.  I discuss the
trumpet/cornet dichotomy in my essays on the
history of the
modern trumpet and the difference between trumpets and

My trumpet featured here was made in 1911 and retains most
of its original gold plated finish with deluxe engraving.  The
original case contains all the original parts excepting the
mouthpieces.  I picture the trumpet with a Conn Symphony
model mouthpiece from the same era which likely would have
been one of those originally included in this kit.  This trumpet is
18" long with the mouthpiece removed, the bell rim diameter is
4 15/16" and the bore measures .485".  I like to keep this
trumpet handy to show guys that tell me that early trumpets
have tiny bores!

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