Olds Super Trombones
Olds Super trombones are familiar to anybody who has been around
brass instruments for an extended time.  They were very popular in
their day, which lasted from about 1935 until production ended in
1979.  There are probably more than 10,000 of them in existence
and you can buy one in decent shape for just a few hundred dollars.  
They are immediately recognizable by the bell garland or "Tone
Band" with the make and model engraved or stamped.  The earlier
versions were even nicer with lightweight red brass bells, all other
parts nickel silver, the inside slide tubes were fluted to reduce friction
and the signature hand engraved on he tone band.  The earliest tone
bands were 1" wide compared with the later examples at 5/8".  What
I only recently learned, after many years of familiarity with this
model, is that there was another earlier version of the Olds Super
trombone.  The first two images to the left show this instrument the
way that it was made in about 1935.  See the
complete catalog here
on The Olds Register.  This catalog can be dated by the fact that it
illustrates the fluted slide tubes as they were in the
original patent of
November, 1935.  In this, the inside slide tubes had grooves rather
than the flat sides and probably proved impractical and may have
never been in production.  The idea was refined and patented again
in
January, 1938 (applied for Sept. 1936).  The slide section
(.485"/.500" bore) is almost identical to the Supers made a few years
later including the fluted slide tubes, although with earlier style
braces.  The dimensions of the bell section appear to be the same
aside from a 7" rather than 7 1/2" rim which, in later years, became
the only size available.  The catalog indicates that 6" to 8" bells and
the usual variety of bores were available in this model.  It has a very
different look in that the tone band is not present and a very unique
bell brace/weight is.  This is a three dimensional model of the
trombone playing bear that had been engraved on the trombone bells
since the mid-1920s.  Both the bear counter weight and fluted slides
are also seen on Standard model trombones from this era, although
not illustrated in the catalog.  The red brass alloy of the bell flare
appears to be the same but has thicker walls, allowing for the
typically heavy engraving in the more conventional position.  The
model name is not indicated in the engraving and so for the years that
I have owned it until now, I thought that it was some custom ordered
variant of the Standard Self Balancing trombone.  The serial numbers
are 9822 and 10,019.  An earlier example has been reported to me
with a serial number below 8400.  I would think that there must be a
year or more between the production of these two trombones.

The next photo is serial number 11,718 and in almost every way
typical of early Olds Super trombones with the narrow tone band.  It
is extremely well preserved and engraved on the tone band, along
with the usual lettering and decoration is "R.B. Olds" (for Reginald
Birdsall Olds).  This is another case where the engraving is the only
connection to a specific history.  We can safely assume that this
trombone belonged to Reg Olds personally, but beyond that we must
speculate.  Reg was not known to be a trombone player and it seems
unlikely that he spent time between tennis, golf and ski trips to
practice one.  One theory that I came up with is that it was a
prototype trombone using the
newly patented (1938) braces on the
bell and hand slide, but just a few weeks ago a Super Olds trombone
with earlier serial number (10,393/10,653), a wide tone band and the
1938 braces appeared on Ebay.  This could have been the
introduction of the narrow tone band, but I need to gather serial
number and other data from similar trombones to confirm this.  The
4th and 5th images to the left show the narrow and wide tone band
with hand engraved details.  The variation in bell brass color is due to
the yellowed lacquer and all four trombones shown probably have
bells made of the same red brass alloy which Olds called "gold
bronze".  The next photo shows the excellent preservation of Mr.
Olds' trombone case as well.

The last image is yet another extremely rare variation on the theme
and is just a little later with a serial number of 13652.  This is the
largest Super Olds trombone with tone band that I have come across
with a 9" bell rim diameter and .500"/.525" slide bore.  Trombones
of this size had previously been called bass trombones, although by
this time, Olds had introduced the Super Olds Bass Trombone with a
slide bore of .562 with the choice of one or two rotary valves.  It had
a 9" yellow brass bell with no tone band and tuning in the slide like
the earlier Olds trombones.  When supplied with two valves, both
were actuated by levers.  This is likely the first bass trombone with
two valve levers ever available from a major manufacturer.  C.G.
Conn and other makers offered a second valve to extend the F valve
to E, but was actuated by a knob or wheel on the valve which
couldn't be turned while playing.

Between 1935 and 1940, Olds obviously saw great importance in
developing their newest and most modern trombone line.  These
were depression years, and yet, they continued to increase
production.  Likewise, the Super Olds trumpets and cornets are
introduced at this time and by 1940, the famous
Super Olds
Recording Model appears.  Today these are considerably harder and
more expensive to acquire than the trombones.