Convertible Eb Cornet by F.G. Kaiser
This highly unusual Eb cornet from the collection of Kevin Boles, was made or supplied by Franz (Frank) G. Kaiser of Cincinnati, Ohio. It was probably made between 1857 and 1859, based on Kaiser's listing in city directories. Most often, when an obscure signature is found on a brass instrument, it is that of a dealer or importer. There are several cornets now known with the unique valve mechanism design seen here, all originating in Cincinnati, making it seem more likely that there was a shop making these in that city. These are variously signed "E.E. Teltow", "C.W. Kohler" and "F.G. Kaiser", all immigrants from eastern Germany and likely connected to the brass instrument industry there.
It appears to be of high quality construction and retains its original mouthpipe shank and mouthpiece. The valve bore measures .428" and the bell rim diameter is 4". Overall length with mouthpipe shank removed is 12" with the bell front and 20 3/4" with the bell to the back.
In the 1850 and early 1860s, there was some demand, in the US, for brass instruments that were easily convertible between bell front, or bell upright to bell over the shoulder. In this way the band could easily adapt to the situation in which they were required: marching in front of troops, putting on a concert or playing for the dancers at a ball. In most cases, the bell section or portion of it was detachable and a section of a different shape was supplied as seen on a very rare valve bugle by D.C. Hall featured on this site. Larger instruments would generally have mouthpipes that either interchange or swivel to change the direction of the bell. Colt's Armory Band was famously supplied with a complete set of convertible instruments made by Graves & Co. While somewhat delicate, the design of this cornet eliminates the expense of a second bell section.