Allen & Hall Alto Horn

Joseph Lathrop Allen probably came up with the idea for his unique rotary valves with small diameter and flat airways sometime around 1848.  This was the time that several German craftsman were making Boston their home and likely were hired by Allen to apply this technology to his new design.  These are among the best quality brass instruments made at the time not just in the US but Europe as well.  This alto horn was made during a short partnership with David C. Hall in 1861.  For more information about Allen see Robert E. Eliason, Early American Brass Makers, The Brass Press, 1979

The abused a deteriorated state of this instrument would negate the wisdom of the restoration in most cases, but instruments by Allen and Hall are extremely rare and valuable to collectors and museums.  It was missing the mouthpipe, the entire tuning slide assembly as well as all three valve levers and mounts and a few other small bits.  The German silver that it is made of has deteriorated to the point that not only are there numerous gaping cracks but hundreds of hairline cracks.  A big challenge is to remove dents as best as possible without causing additional cracks.  Careful work was rewarded with very nice results.   Some cracks were patched and others in the bell flare were closed as much as possible and left.  Future owners will need to handle this instrument with much care, which should certainly be the case with all important historical instruments.  Accurately reproducing the missing parts was possible using my notes, sketches and photographs from past restorations of other instruments of the exact model.  As bad as the rest looked, the valve assemblies are actually in quite good condition and this alto is an excellent player.