Thursday, October 4, 2012

Conn's confusion continues

What did Conn's first Sousaphone actually look like? It would appear that Conn was confused about that as well - at least from 1935 onward. Here's what appears in their instrument catalog for that year:

Photo courtesy of Mark Overton at
According to this notice, the "Original Sousaphone" was built by Conn around 1900, and was a three-valve horn, as pictured. However, from the late 40s through the 50s, a very different Sousaphone is identified as the first one. Check out this important page from the March/April 1949 edition of The Instrumentalist (vol. 3, no. 4, p. 38):

Here we see a much larger, four-valve Sousaphone, said to be "The first sousaphone ever built, made for Sousa in 1898." And we are even introduced to the very craftsman who built that first horn - Ted Pounder. He, of all people, should know which Sousaphone was the first to come out of the Conn factory.

This horn shows up in a brief notice a few years later, in the September 1951 edition of The Instrumentalist (vol. 6, no. 1, p. 4) - although the date is off by a year:
It shows up again in the March/April 1953 edition of The Instrumentalist (vol. 7, no. 5, p. 21), as part of the promotion of the film, Stars and Stripes Forever. On the left is Ted Pounder once again, proudly holding his "first-born":

And it appears to show up in The Instrumentalist once more, this time in the November 1954 edition (vol. 9, no. 3, p. 39):
It even made an appearance in the December 1959 edition of Popular Mechanics:

Photo courtesy of Mark Overton at
All of this suggests that while Conn was confused in 1935 as to which horn was the original Sousaphone, they were eventually able to sort it out, with Ted Pounder's authoritative confirmation. The only problem is that we already know that Conn did not build the first Sousaphone - Pepper did. And, as I will reveal in future posts, the first Conn Sousaphone is neither of the two horns featured above! Confused, indeed!

No comments:

Post a Comment