Instruments Available from Harvey Dodworth in 1856

This piano arrangement of "Amelia Polka", published in 1856, was among a small collection of piano arrangements published by Harvey Dodworth that I found back in the 1980s.  It is certainly not a remarkable tune, but must have been among hundreds of dance pieces vying for popularity at the time.   Harvey and his brother Allen Dodworth were important in the brass band and dance music scene in New York since the 1840s.  I was very excited when I discovered that on the back cover is a list of some of the music available from Dodworth's but more importantly, the bottom third of this ad is an extensive list of brass instruments that were for sale from them (third image down on the left).  This is the only list that I know of showing what brass instruments were available in a major US city at this early date.  "Dodworth's Brass Band School" had been published three years earlier and is widely know among fans of early American brass bands.  This illustrates instruments that were popular along with fingering charts and a few simple tunes to get your band started with but doesn't specifically mention what instruments that they were selling.

That said, it is not completely clear what instruments are being offered on this list either.  When I first studied this list, I assumed that the more expensive, rotary valve instruments listed on the right were made in the US and the less expensive instruments listed on the right were imports.  There are very few existing instruments with the Dodworth name on them and they seem to be from a decade later.  I picture here (bottom left) an Eb cornet with bell over the shoulder that is quite obviously the same as those sold by John Stratton in the 1860s through the 1880s and known to be inexpensive imported alternatives to the more expensive instruments made in Massachusetts.   In the 1853 "...Brass Band School", Dodworth gives very high praise to instruments made by Isaac Fiske and specifically the five valve cornet made for him personally.  Also, Fiske advertised basses in the unusual key of Ab in his 1861 catalog and many of the prices listed here are the same as in that same catalog.  This doesn't prove anything, but it indicates some likelihood that Dodworth was selling Fiske's instruments in New York in the 1850s.  Intriguingly, there is also listed here CC tubas and the only known early US made CC tuba is one made by Thomas Paine in the 1850s.


The keyed bugles listed could be those made by Wright and/or Graves in Boston at that time.  They could have been imports as well, but there are no known imports with more than 9 keys or pure silver keys known to us.  I don't believe that there are any keyed bugles known to exist with the Dodworth name on them although I have restored several unsigned Eb keyed bugles that were obviously made by Graves.  Again, we can speculate and make connections, but there is no solid proof.


The list of valve instruments on the left may seem a bit confusing at first look, but all the forms mentioned are known to have been made in Europe (France and German countries) for the US market.  "Ordinary Sax Valves"are what we call "Berliner Valves" today and there are a large number of such instruments both unsigned and signed by US sellers.  The reason that they became known as "Sax Valves" is because the earliest Saxhorns imported into the US had Berliner valves.  Brass instruments with Perinet valves were much less commonly used here in those years, but a number of examples, known to have been sold new here, were made in Paris by Gautrot.  I can't say for sure what the difference was between "Sax Horns" and "Ebor Cornos", but I believe that the latter were more cornet proportions compared to the valve bugle or flugelhorn proportions of the former.  The "Trombocellos" all have double piston or what are known today as "Vienna" valves.  These may have been very similar to those made by Graves and Co. in the 1840s, but more likely the somewhat larger bore instruments that were being made in Austria and Germany by the mid-1850s.  It is also interesting to note that there are no "post horns" being offered in this list, although they are still included, along with cornets and saxhorns, in "Dodworth's Brass Band School" in 1853.  It is now known that the very small bore trumpets that were called "post horns" in the US were out of fashion by this time.


I welcome any insights or other comments about this document.