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
#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
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,
, and December 26,
(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
datebooks, all of which apparently belonged to a trombonist named Frank
The documents indicate that Mr. Henniger was a freelance
trombone/baritone player and frequently subbed in the St.
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
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
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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