Circa 1920 Bass Trombone
I purchased this horn through eBay from a drop-shop in
Illinois, so I have no information about its history. It's dual-bore,
roughly .530"/.545" with a 9" bell. No serial number, so it's difficult
to date, but the engraving appears to be the same as s/n 704 depicted here
It takes a
small-shank mouthpiece and came
with a very battered NY Bach 3. The general consensus among the people
I've shown the horn to is that the valve is an import, possibly
manufactured by Cerveny. At the time this horn was built, it wouldn't have made economic sense for Olds
to make their own rotors. The stockings are
integral (rather than soldered on, as was common practice at the time),
and the inner diameter does not increase at the stocking (the earliest
one-piece Olds inners have a step in the bore at the stocking). At some
point it was buffed "with extreme prejudice", so the engraving is very
Some might take issue with my designating this horn as bass trombone.
While it is true that a few horns of this size were being produced for
use as tenor trombones (e.g., the Keefer Gardell Simons model and the
early version of the Conn 8H), most people of the time would have
considered it a bass trombone and its specifications are similar to the
roughly contemporaneous Conn 14H Duo-Bore Medium Bass. I'm pretty
comfortable calling it a bass trombone.
One view of the valve
Another view of the valve
Braces and tuning mechanism
Friction fit joint - no serial number
Looking at this horn, one can't help but wonder: Who was it built for?
If you'll pardon a brief excursion into rampant speculation, I have a
The first question is: Who
Angeles needed a bass trombone around
1920? Well, the Los Angeles Philharmonic was founded in 1919, and an
earlier orchestra, the Los Angeles Symphony, folded soon thereafter.
The principal trombonist of the Symphony was one John Kipper "Spike"
Wallace; when the dust settled, Spike found himself playing third
trombone in the new orchestra. So - Spike probably needed a bass
trombone, and he probably needed it pretty quickly. Of course, no one
in Los Angeles would have one sitting on the shelf and ordering one
from back East would have taken some time, but there was a guy over on
24th Street who made trombones in a shed out behind his house, and his
horns were supposed to be pretty good. What makes the story even better
is that Earl Williams was probably working for Frank Olds at that time.
Could this horn have been the genesis of the Williams and Wallace
partnership? It certainly bears at least a passing resemblance to a
Williams in my collection.
Olds on the left, Williams on the right.