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It's a bear!

Circa 1917 Olds Large-Bore Trombone (Frank Henniger)
Bore: .510"-.535" (12.95 mm-13.6 mm)
Bell: 8" (203.2 mm)

This story begins, oddly enough, with a trumpet - Olds trumpet #331, to be precise. I walked into ABI Music near my home one day and the proprietor, David Browne, said he "had something I should see" (he worked at Olds at one time and knows about my obsession); turns out it was #331, complete with the original mouthpiece. I looked it over, but I'm not a trumpet collector, so I really didn't have an interest in buying the horn. I emailed some Olds trumpet collectors about it, figuring one of them would buy it, but none of them did. After waiting a couple weeks, I decided to buy it; after all, it was either me or eBay.

I showed the horn around to my trumpet-playing acquaintances, but beyond that, there wasn't much I could do with it, so I contacted Robb Stewart to see if he was interested in trading a trombone for it, and we worked out a deal.

This is Olds trombone #704. As an early large-bore Olds, the horn itself is quite interesting, but the best part was the documentation that came with it - there's three St. Louis Symphony programs (December 26, 1907, December 27, 1908, and December 26, 1909), three union datebooks (1901, 1905, and 1906-1907), several quarterly union cards from 1906-1907 (for both the St. Louis and Memphis, TN locals), along with some other miscellaneous items that were inserted into the datebooks, all of which apparently belonged to a trombonist named Frank Henniger..

The documents indicate that Mr. Henniger was a freelance trombone/baritone player and frequently subbed in the St. Louis Symphony trombone section - I find several entries for symphony rehearsals and performances, including the names of the people for whom he was filling in (names that cross-reference to the programs). He was also a regular performer for the Symphony's Sunday "Popular Concerts". Based on some other information I found online, he was born on March 25, 1869 in Illinois and died on July 20, 1969 in Glendale, California. The C. L. Barnhouse catalog lists a march titled Inferno by Frank Henniger dated 1934, but they were unable to provide me any further information.

In looking over his datebooks, I'm struck by just how busy he was. Each summer he had a regular (playing every day) gig; in 1901, it was the Hotel Victory ($11.00/week), in 1905 it was the Alps Orchestra ($21.85/week, and in 1906 it was Erlinger's Band ($28/week). In the winter of '05-'06, he was playing at the Gayety Theater ($24.15/week). At the same time, he was picking up side gigs ("Seymours Famous Fifty", "Gilmore's Band", and others), working as an arranger and copyist, and giving lessons.

There's one gig where he specifically notes "trombone - low pitch". This horn isn't old enough to have been used during the time period covered by the documents; it's #704, which would date it to the late teens.

I'm unsure about the mouthpiece; it looks to be period, but, after so many years, there's no way to tell if it also belonged to Frank Henniger or if it was added later. The horn came in an older (certainly pre-WWII) Conn case (not shown).

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