Early Olds Catalogs
These are likely the first three full catalogs published by Olds (click links below to download .pdf files). I have never seen any earlier promotional literature but I would assume that they would have, at a minimum, printed a price and/or model list previous to this. Please let me know if you have any early Olds literature. The first catalog states that Olds had set out to produce instruments 12 years earlier, or 1913. We can surmise that Olds had some success in his plating business which he had started 24 years before that date and was likely repairing and experimenting with brass instruments during those years. He had enough success to purchase the rights to the 1912 trombone design patent from George Riblet so that he could incorporate these features in his own instruments.
By 1925, he had developed at least 5 slide bore sizes and several bell sizes. The catalog describes the "braces and hand grips" are made of nickel silver. The earlier trombones that I feature elsewhere on my site utilize nickel silver for the brace flanges only. These also represent some of the bore and bell size combinations available. All the trombones offered in the first two catalogs have tuning in the hand slide, which was a new idea when Olds introduced his first trombones and was only a slight modification of one of the patented design features. This was copied by all the major US band instrument makers as well as Olds' former employee Earl Williams.
The second catalog also states a copyright date of 1925 and has the same content as the first with two differences. It is a larger format, measuring 5" by 11" and the smaller is 3 1/4" by 6". Also, on the two pages listing prices, the larger has new, higher price lists pasted on. These prices are the same as in the last catalog shown here, indicating that it was likely an update for 1926, before a new printing. By the time that the catalog was published in 1927, Olds introduced a new model that they call "Self Balancing", with the tuning slide in the bell section and those brace tubes substituted with solid brass rods for weight in the back of the bell. Also introduced at that time is the slogan "It's a Bear" and the logo picturing a trombone playing bear.
I hope to narrow down the date when this bear first appears engraved on the trombone bells but based on the evidence that I have at this time I would assume that it was between 1925 and 1927. It is also possible that the bear was engraved on the bells years before appearing in the catalog; we need to continue looking for evidence. The reason that the 1927 catalog is a much lower quality copy is that it is a photocopy that I made of the original about 1990 and it was subsequently destroyed in the Malibu Fire of 1993. If you know of another original or any other very early Olds literature, please let me know.