Replica of 1840s Fiske Soprano Saxhorn
This replica of an early American Saxhorn was made for Dr. Mark Ponzo, professor of trumpet at Northern Illinois University. He had originally wanted me to make an early 19th century style orchestral F trumpet with double piston valves (more familiar to us today on Vienna style horns, but very common on all other instruments before 1860). He has been building a collection of old style instruments to demonstrate to his students.
Once he got the idea of having a copy of the only known American made Saxhorn with this style valves, he put the trumpet idea on hold. The original was made by Isaac Fiske in the late 1840s and is now part of the Utley Collection of the National Music Museum. Curator Sabine Klaus graciously provided the measurements that she took of the original instrument, which made my design process easier.
The valve assembly was made for me by Martin Seibold of Baierain, Germany and I made the rest. The original instrument has the half step valve first, which was not uncommon in the 1840s and 1850s, but Mark wanted to be able to demonstrate it in either its original configuration (first photo) or with the whole step first (second photo), so I made the slides interchangeable. The pitch of the original, assuming that the tuning shank is original, is below our modern pitch, but I made this to play at A=440Hz. For period performances with high pitch bands (usually around A=450Hz), I can make a shorter tuning shank.
The length (height) of both the original Fiske and this replica is 18", the bell rim diameter is 4 1/2" and the bore through the valves measures .415". I suggested to Mark, that I could make a Sterling silver name plate, the same as on the original, as seen in the last photo to the left.