C.G. Conn
New Invention Single Horn with Rotary Valves

"New Invention" Single
Serial Number :
922831 (on valve set) 
Date of Manufacture:
ca. 1912?
F, E, D (with tuning slide crooks)
3 Rotary
11.9 mm
Mouthpipe Socket:
8.0 mm
Bell Flare:
single seam
7.5 cm
Bell Diameter:
30.5 cm
Base Metal:
Silver Plate (frosted corpus, polished bell interior)

The 1913 C.G. Conn catalog describes the above horn as follows:
The New Invention French Horn in F, Eb and D
Rotary Valves
The Rotary Valve New Invention French Horn meets with marked favor among those who have been accustomed to the Rotary action. The New Invention Horns possess the scale and freedom of tone production not found in any other French Horn.
Fin.[ish] I. - Artistically engraved, quadruple silver plated, sand blast velvet finish, gold plated valve caps, ferrules, water keys, gold plated and pearl inlaid valve finger pieces, complete with extra tuning slide for international pitch, two mouth-pieces, music holder and piston wiper, $90. 1 
This horn is a Kölner model design with a long, slow-tapered leadpipe going directly into the first valve and with the main tuning slide between the third valve and the first branch leading to the bell tail. The valve slides are also of the classic Kölner pattern.  It is perhaps imported either as a stencil horn or as parts assembled and plated in Elkhart. 2

The six-digit number stamped on the valve lever saddle (above) is not the Conn serial number. If it were, it would date the horn to 1961. A true Conn number for the period when this horn was made would be only five digits, however none is found.  The above number is most likely the serial number of the valve set by the (European) supplier. 

Each of the three tuning slides is marked with its respective key on the left ferrule while the right ferrule is marked with an "O" corresponding  to a mark on the leadpipe ferrule (right).3

The dimensions of the C.G. Conn mouthpiece provided with this horn (far right) are as follows: cup depth: 25 mm; rim width: 3.8 mm; rim outside diameter 24.4 mm;  rim inside diameter: 16.9 mm; throat: 5.0 mm (# 8 drill).    

Special thanks to James Hampson for sharing information on his two early Conn singles including a brass version (Finish III) of the subject horn.

1.  Of the four finishes available in the 1913, this one best fits the subject horn. Missing on this horn, however, are the gold plating and pearl inlays on the valve finger pieces, water key, and extra tuning slide for international pitch (possibly lost but no provision in the case).  It's not clear what the "piston wiper" is for. The other three finishes are as follows: "Artists' Finish for Soloists", quadruple gold plated, $140; Fin. II, same as Fin. I (described above in the text) but without the gold trim, $80; Fin. III, highly polished brass, silver plated mountings, silver plated pearl inlaid finger pieces, $70. On the same page is the "New Invention French Horn" with piston valves described as "A French Horn Made From The Raw Materials in C.G. Conn's Factory/ The Only American Factory That Absolutely Builds a French Horn in Its Entirety." This further suggests that the rotary valve set on the subject horn is imported, since the above statement is not made of the rotary model.      

2. C.G. Conn was known primarily for its piston valve band brass instruments. The only French horns in the 1888 "Wonder Catalogue" price list have piston valves as does the only French horn shown in the 1919 catalog. Between 1888 and 1913 the only mention of French horns found in available publications (e.g. "C.G. Conn's Truth") appear in the "Bargains" (shop-worn, second-hand) classified listings with no illustrations. They include some by Conn, "French imported", Besson, and Boston Musical Instrument Manufactory/Company.  The company's other brass instruments (all with piston valves) are featured in fully illustrated pages. It appears that Conn did not have its own tooling for rotary valves until the 1920s when the full line of "D" series horns appeared in the company's catalogs. Even then at least one example of a 4D model single horn from 1924 is marked "Made in Germany." This horn retains the basic characteristics of the Kölner design with its long leadpipe and main tuning slide placed after the valve set, although the valve tuning slides have been updated from the traditional Kölner shapes. This is also seen in the illustration in the 1926 catalog.  

3. A clue that the corpus or at least the tuning slides of the subject horn might in fact have been made in the  U.S. is seen  on the E-flat slide. It is marked "E♭."  If it were made in Germany it would probably be marked "Es."


Banks, Margaret Downie, "A Brief History of the Conn Company (1874-present)", National Music Museum, Vermillion, South Dakota, 1997-2009


C.G. Conn Ltd., C.G. Conn Band and Orchestra Instruments Catalog,  C.G. Conn Ltd, Elkhart, Indiana, 1913

C.G. Conn Ltd., General Catalog A, C.G. Conn Ltd, Elkhart, Indiana, 1919


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