Date: Thu, 8 Jan 1998 17:25:05 -0900
From: (Thomas Meacham)
Subject: Re: EQU: Pocket trumpets

Another "colossally costly" pocket trumpet (a cornet, actually) was offered by the Holton Company, their Model C-150.  It was only 7 inches long, but cost $1340 in 1984.

The liner notes to the Crystal LP (S 450) on the cornet solos of Herbert L. Clarke show a photo of a Distin pocket B-natural/B-flat presented to Mr. Clarke after his performance of Levy's "Whirlwind Polka" in a solo contest in Evansville, Indiana in 1886, at age 19.  The cornet had an oval bell, and was only 6 1/2 inches long and 5 inches high.  It was made by the Henry Distin Company.  Clarke's autobiography, quoted in the liner notes, says:

"On reaching the bandstand I was greeted with a degree of applause which almost staggered me. ....One of these [judges] made a nice speech complementing me on my playing and stating that I had won first prize. Turning around he introduced me to dear old Henry Distin, a celebrated instrument maker, who coming forward and shaking me by the hand then presented me with the award, a baby cornet, one of his own make -- the smallest B-flat cornet ever made measuring only 6 1/2 inches long, 5 inches high with an oval bell and gold plated and elabortately engraved.  Mr. Distin, enthused over my playing as being remarkable for a boy, asked me to play some suitable song on the small instrument.  Again, completely staggered and unable to open my mouth in response, I took the cornet and endeavored to play on it.  I was astonished by the power possessed by the mininature instrument; it made a hit with everyone, both audience and bandsmen.  It was the only one of its kind that Henry Distin ever made, and I still have it by me, a carefully cherished possession."

In the late 1800's, instrument makers made "pocket" versions of E-flat cornets, B-flat cornets, and E-flat alto horns, in both piston and rotary valve types. I have a Boston pocket solo (bell-forward) alto horn in E-flat alto from 1890, which has its tubing wound around and its valve slides folded back, so that the horn is only 13 1/2 inches long, slightly longer than a shepherd's-crook B-flat cornet.  Lots of ingenuity in the old days

Tom Meacham
Anchorage, Alaska