Early Conn Bb Trumpet
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 extantinstruments 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 arepictured 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 cornets.
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!