Post Horn by Richardson & Co., Rochester, New York
This is another very rare instrument from Mark Elrod's collection. It is one of three instruments known by Samuel W. Richardson of Rochester, New York, the other two being Eb keyed bugles. There is no known connection between this maker and B.F. Richardson of Boston. His brass instrument making activities there must have been short lived and I have been unable to find much biographical information. Hopefully there is more data to be found in historical archives in Rochester.
In "Graves & Company, Musical Instrument Makers", Robert Eliason reported that Richardson was a partner in that company in Winchester, New Hampshire from 1832 through 1839. All three of the instruments signed by Richardson very closely resemble instruments made by Graves & Co. This instrument is very much like those made by Graves although has a larger more cornet like bell. In "Keyed Bugles in the United States", Eliason states that Richardson is listed in the Rochester city directory in 1847 as musical instrument maker, but by 1851 he is listed at the same address as an upholsterer. He pursued a number of trades including enlisting as a First Class Musician in the 26th New York Infantry Band in October 1861, at which time he was 54 years old.
This instrument at first appeared to have survived well but the restoration was extensive and time consuming. All of the smaller curved tubing was splitting at the seams and previous repairs made things worse. At least a dozen patches were needed to cover all the breaks. The first piston assembly had been broken, repaired and broken again and it was decided to make a whole new assembly. The Ab crook is obviously original, fitting the instrument and the case. The discrepancy of tuning Bb compared with Ab and the fit of the mouthpiece indicated that it had originally been equipped with a shank or bit for the higher pitch. Not having one to copy, I made a guess as to how it might have looked. The mouthpiece has a ring of corrosion indicating that it had been from a different instrument and may indeed be from an Eb keyed bugle from the period. As you can see in the photos, the case itself is a remarkable thing. We can only speculate, but it seems likely that the painted decoration is the artistic inclination of the original owner and includes his name: "Wolsin". He also painted a short musical quotation, which, unfortunately has been worn off, although the opening notes could be from "Star Spangled Banner". The fabric lining is an unfortunate recent addition which prevents the instrument from fitting as well as it should. The length of this instrument without mouthpiece or crook is 12 13/16", the bell rim diameter is 4 9/16" and the bore measures .367".