Boston Alto Horns

This alto horn was made not long after the formation of the Boston Musical Instrument Manufactory (see Boston Bb Cornets).  It was a continuation of the new model introduced by E.G. Wright in about 1865.  After this date, most of the instruments with bell front or upright utilize the side action lever as seen here.  This style was likely originated in Boston by Allen and/or Hall.   This improvement brings the lever more comfortably under the finger and reduces the arc that the fingertip must follow.

This instrument is made of German silver.  It is 25 1/2" tall with a bell rim diameter of 6 13/16" and bore measuring .487".

Next is another interesting product of the Boston Musical Instrument Manufactory, a pocket solo alto, made about 1886.  They were also producing altos in several models with bell up, over the shoulder or circular (helicon) along with the regular solo alto horns, and most were available with either piston or rotary valves.   There were at least 15 possible variations that could be made in either brass or nickel silver.  Adding to its historical interest, this one is made of nickel silver.   By the time that their 1881 catalog was published, they had introduced "pocket" instruments or smaller, more tightly wound versions of the Eb and Bb cornets along with this alto horn.  The Bb pocket (Tourist) cornet appears to be a Courtois Tourist model and Nick DeCarlis, pocket cornet authority believes that they never marketed one of their own make (and I agree).  The Eb pocket cornets of a variety of designs exist in a number of collections today and they are 9 1/4" long compared to the Tourist Bb at 8 1/4.  No pocket cornets in Bb with the Boston name on them are known to exist.  The pocket solo alto horn is 12 3/4" long (the regular solo alto being 16 1/2"), which is only 1/4" longer than the Boston Three Star cornets.  The sixth photo shows these two instruments together.  The bell rim diameter is 6 1/2", making it only a little more bulky than the Bb cornet.  It shares the .487" bore size with all the other altos that Boston made as well as the Two Star Cornets.  As with all Boston made instruments, the playing qualities are excellent, including intonation and response and this would certainly be a great instrument to play alto solos on or handle any alto part sent its way.  The original mouthpiece survived with this instrument, which helps us know how it was intended to sound.  The balance of the instrument was in very good condition with only a few large dents.  Unfortunately, the nickel silver metal has become quite brittle and required several patches to cover splits.