Unsigned Bb Cornet with 4 Allen Valves
Here I'm presenting another very unusual cornet from Mark Elrod's collection. This story has to be very short, because we know very little about the origins of this cornet. There are two other, very similar, Bb cornets known. One is in the Utley Collection of the National Music Museum. This has the same distinctive bell flare and garland and flat windway valves, although with top action levers. The other, with side action as seen here, is pictured on Horn-u-Copia. Each has the same fourth valve for changing pitch from Bb to A and the Utley example also has an alternate mouthpipe to shorten it to C. Elrod's example appears never to have had this feature. While it is thought that these cornets were made in Boston, where Allen, Richardson and Lehnert made very similar rotary valves or Philadelphia, where Henry Lehnert continued them in production, it is possible that they were made in Europe. There are a few examples of unsigned instruments that appear to be European copies of Boston made Allen valve instruments, but again, this is all speculation, since we don't have any hard evidence. If you have any clues, please let me know. This cornet was acquired in quite good condition and already was a very good player. Unfortunately, it had a cheap nickel plated finish applied at some time in the distant past. Stripping plating from a brass or nickel silver instrument can be disastrous and I've seen a number of instruments ruined by careless action. I trusted the stripping to Anderson Silver Plating, who know how to do this with minimal loss to the base metal. Once that was done, the dent removal was not at all difficult. The only part that appeared to have been installed badly during the last restoration was the third slide tubes and small curves. This was easily rectified as seen in the last two photos. I had to reconstruct three of the five slide assemblies which had been replaced before the nickel plating and not so well. Two of the valve levers had also been repaired, including unsightly struts to keep the inadequate repair from falling apart. The lyre mount was clearly a later replacement, although with no evidence pointing to the design of any original part, that was left off for now. Hopefully in the future we can make an accurate replacement. Once back together, it is still a very good playing cornet.
The overall length of this cornet is 12 7/8" (10 5/8" from bell rim to bell curve), the bell rim diameter is 4 1/8" and the bore the valves measures .465".