Alessandro Liberati's Conn New Wonder Cornet
This Conn New Wonder cornet with "A. Liberati Virtuoso" engraved near the bell rim, was built in 1921 when Alessandro Liberati was 74 years old. A skeptical mind would wonder what use such an old man would have for a brand new custom made cornet and indeed, I don't have any documentary proof that this cornet ever belonged to Signor Liberati. It seems quite reasonable, however, when considering the fact that it wasn't his last cornet.
The photo below, reproduced from the May, 1923 issue of The Lyceum Magazine, shows him at age 76 holding what appears to be a Holton Clarke model cornet. The accompanying article tells of concerts and recordings done by Liberati that year. At one concert "He played and played and seemed to never get tired. He filled the whole Coliseum with his notes." Also, there is a very similar gold plated cornet in another collection with "Sig. A. Liberati" engraved in the same position. This cornet was made in 1915.
That discussion aside, this is obviously a custom ordered variant of the model Conn model 86A New Wonder Cornet. The only obvious differences from the standard model are the lack of both the "opera glass" tuning wheel on the main tuning slide and the A tuning stop rod on the auxiliary slide. This cornet has it's original gold plated finish and shows no sign of those parts being removed.
The engraved motif is from Greek mythology and shows Leda, queen of Sparta who was seduced by Zeus, who took the form of a swan for the deed. And we think that celebrities come up with wacky stories today! I don't think that the griffins andephistopheles that are also pictured are directly related to the same story but rather thrown in to make it visually more interesting. I am reasonably sure that this engraving was accomplished by Julius Stenberg who was known for rather simple faces but other decorations that are absolutely beautiful.
This cornet is 16 5/8" long, the bell rim diameter is 4 9/16" and the bore measures .438". The last two photos show another elaborately engraved and gold plated cornet, but this one made by Martin for Signor Liberati. This was recently purchased from the daughter of Liberati's landlady in New Jersey. It was late in his life and must have been one of the very last cornets that he owned. It was made in 1921, the same year as the Conn described above. Liberati must have owned many cornets in his lifetime and there may be more out there to be discovered.