Early Olds Trombones
Early Olds trombones are fairly easy to come by since demand in the
collector's market has continued to overlook them. They are high quality
and of very innovative design, influencing all other trombone makers. The
first image, top left, is the center spread from the 1925 catalog. The other
images are three and a half of the earliest that I've collected over the years.
These were all made before 1922 when operations were moved out of the
barn behind the Olds' family home on 24th Street in what is part of down
town in Los Angeles today. It is the earliest of these I've never owned the
slide and it has no serial number and its provenance lends mystery to its
survival. When the factory contents were auctioned off in 1979, big rolling
bins full of seconds and overruns of parts were sold one or more at a time.
Dan Rauch, the French horn maker, had looked over these bins to determine
which might contain parts that he could use. This trombone bell just
happened to be thrown into one of the bins that he purchased. He had it
hanging around his shop for a few years, but when I expressed some interest
he gave it to me. I don't have any way of knowing if it had been in the
factory from the time that it was made or found its way back at a later date,
but it appears to be among the earliest of Olds' production. It was a high
pitch trombone and the bell rim diameter measures 6". Olds called this the
"Solo Model" and, not surprisingly the smallest bell that Olds offered.
Photos of another, serial number 163, with virtually the same engraving were
sent to me by its owner and I believe that they are of similar age. Dale
Olson owns number 162, but I haven't examined it yet.
The next two photos to the right are serial number 260 and marked "M" for
Medium Bore. The bell rim diameter is 7" and the bore measures .480".
The slide stockings and inside slide tube are drawn from a single tube as in
later Olds trombones rather than the more common practice of that time
which was soldering a sleeve over tube. It does differ from the later Olds
trombones in that the inside slide tube maintains its wall thickness, resulting
in a larger bore through the area of the stocking. Later Olds and all modern
trombones have an increased wall thickness creating the stocking without
changing the bore size in that area. The mouthpiece appears to be original.
The next is marked "LM" (Large Medium) and with serial number 1619.
The bell rim diameter is 7 1/2" and the dual bore measures .495"/.509"
making this very similar in dimensions to later models such as Standard,
Super, Recording and others. This is the best preserved of this group,
appearing to have been used very little. It retains its original ivory rim and
cup mouthpiece as illustrated in the 1925 catalog. A very interesting feature
of this trombone is that the branch or back curve of the bell is removable by
unscrewing the nuts at each end. It would have originally come with a
second, shorter branch to tune it to high pitch, which was still being used by
many bands at the time.
The last (out of order chronologically) is serial number 704 and also marked
"L" for Large Bore. This has an 8" bell and dual bore measuring
.509"/.535". The original owner of this trombone was Frank Henniger, who
played in the St. Louis Philharmonic Orchestra in the early 20th Century
including at the 1904 World's Fair (before this trombone was built). I don't
have any documentation that this is the trombone that he used in the
orchestra, but it seems likely, since it is an unusually large bore for the time,
and larger trombones were favored in orchestras, especially those of
Germanic traditions. The mouthpiece pictured is not original to this
trombone but is a very early Olds mouthpiece and much larger that any
others that I have found from that era.
The last photo below shows these four bells in order of size.
Click on images to view larger photographs.