Custom Engraves Olds Super Trombone Flare
This is certainly a one of a kind piece of F.E. Olds and Son history. The story that came with it is plausible, but is third hand with no way of verifying it. I purchased this from Dick Plimpton, son of Roe Plimpton, who had worked for Olds from about 1930 until the early 1960s. Dick told me that Roe had acquired it during or right after WWII. During the war, most of the factory's capacity was taken up with production for the war effort, producing very few musical instruments. One of the engravers did not have any engraving work to do and wanted to keep his skills honed for when he was put back to that work. He probably spent many hours decorating this bell flare just to please himself and certainly never could have dreamed that it would be shown where anybody in the whole world could take a look at it.
The engraving covers the entire outside surface of this bell excepting the tone ring and rim. The three girls are the focus of the design, but the rest is covered with flowers, leaves and butterflies. Then the entire background was filled in with fan shaped texture, looking almost like engine turning seen on automobiles. If this flare were ever mounted on a trombone the brace flange and tuning slide ferrule would cover portions of the engraving, so we are fortunate that this bell has always been kept as an art piece rather than trombone bell. The engraver must have rendered this from a photograph of the three girls, otherwise, I would assume there was very little work getting done in his department for the duration. The hair styles are very much from that time and I can imagine that LaVerne, Maxine and Patti, the Andrews Sisters were an inspiration.
Dale Olson suspects that this was engraved by Leonard Garcia, who had started working at Olds as an engraver in about 1945. Dale has a Mendez trumpet bell that is similarly covered with engraving and never mounted on an instrument, the same as in this case. Perhaps Leonard engraved this to prove his abilities to the master engraver that had preceded him and was nearing retirement by that time.
Also notable, is the fact that this bell is very heavy, the wall thickness measuring .031" at the small end and .025" in the flare, which is much thicker than in the early Super Olds bells. When it was introduced in about 1935, the Super Olds model was never engraved as an option because the bell was made of a very thin wall red brass which was not ideal for engraving. In later years, Olds made the Super bells of thicker brass but still never engraved.