Bb Cornet by Edward E. Teltow, Cinncinnati
This is another instrument for which Steve Ward had to bid a fairly high price in order to purchase it in an online auction. For a completely unknown maker and in such rough, incomplete condition, I thought that he was being a bit foolish, but it has proven to a very interesting and early bit of US brass instrument history.
This unique valve mechanism is only seen on two other known instruments, both originating in Cincinnati, but by different makers. One is a F.G. Kaiser with convertible bell in Kevin Boles' collection and the other is an Eb cornet by William Kohler in Jeff Stockham's collection. The scant information that we have for these makers' careers indicate that this is the earliest of the three, probably made between 1850 and 1855. I borrowed Kevin Boles' instrument in order to make the missing parts for this instrument accurately, and I was able to determine that the valve parts of the two instruments were made in the same shop. Although differing in bore measurement, most of the other parts were interchangeable as if they were made at the same time.
There is much to be learned about this very small but early corner of the industry of brass instrument making in the US. We must always consider the possibility that these instruments were made in Europe for export to the US, or that they were assembled from imported parts. The unique nature of the string linkage is remarkable as being among the earliest known. Later versions became dominant in the late 1850s until piston valves replaced rotary valves in popularity and continue to be used on French horns today. Sabine Klaus has written an excellent article on Kaiser and Kohler's activities in Cincinnati, although it was published before this instrument came to light.
Edward E. Teltow emigrated from Prussia with his family as a 12 year old in 1829. He was naturalized in 1849 in Natchez, Mississippi and married Wilhemina Fisher (also a native of Prussia) there three months later. In 1850, he was listed in the census and city directory as a musical instrument maker in the "Over the Rhine" district of Cincinnati, Ohio, where German was spoken more commonly than English. I have no information where or when he learned his trade, but it seems likely that it was after arriving in Cincinnati, although no specific connection to other makers has surfaced. He seems to have died about 1855 or so and in the 1860 census, Wilhemina and their two children were living in Colerain Township, about 10 miles north, with an older farmer, most likely a relative, who had traveled on the same ship with Edward from Prussia.
The bulk of the time spent on this restoration was spent making the missing parts. Close examination of the last photograph on the left shows some of the complexity of the valve stop arms. The finished instrument is very playable, although a little leaky, especially in the one original valve, which is worn. The two replacement rotors were fit as tightly as practical, although the casings had suffered some damage. The casings are made with a separate inner sleeve that presumably is supposed to be more rigid than the outer that connects to the tubing, but damage of the outers still effects the inners.
The over all length of this cornet is 12", the bell rim diameter is 4 15/16" and the valve bore measures .429". The Bb mouthpipe shank appears to be original with this cornet, and it is very similar to that which is preserved with the Kaiser Bb cornet. The mouthpiece shown is not original.