NLICConn Worcester 5 Valve Double Bell Euphonium c.1894
This is probably one of the earliest Conn Double Bell Euphoniums ever made (serial no. 28893 -1894). It was made in Col. Conn's Worcester Massachusetts Plant - formally the Isaac Fiske factory - where he moved after a fire in his Elkhart factory. He moved back to Elkhart exclusively in 1898. As with all Conn instruments of theis period the workmanship is extraordinary and the the bell is extensively and beautifully engraved - with the logo as follows:
Elkhart Ind. & Worcester Mass
Double bell euphs were made with 4 valves or 5 valves. In this instrument, the fourth valve when depressed, provides improved intonation on some notes and access to a lower register. The fifth valve selects the smaller bell. The 4th and 5th valves are operated by the left hand. It is amazing how well this Euph has survived for 110 years with virtually no dents or repairs, and only minor wear to the 24K gold plating. The early Conn double euphs had the main bell upright and the small bell forward. Later models had both bells forward (see my Conn Royal Hawaiian Double Bell Euph circa 1932).
This superb instrument will soon be seen in an exhibit of Conn instruments at the new Musical Instrument Museum (TheMIM) in Phoenix when it opens spring 2010.
(see further text on history of duplex instruments below)
"Duplex" instruments were first attempted in England in 1851 with a combination of an althorn and cornet. The idea was to combine two instruments of identical pitch using a common mouthpiece, lead pipe and valve set- but with different or contrasting sounds obtained from different sized bells - which were often oriented in different directions. Combinations such as a flugel horn and cornet; alto horn and E flat trumpet, euphonium and valve trombone and tuba and bass trombone were tried. Besson of UK tried "doublophones" with only a common mouthpiece and leadpipe.
In the USA, the first duplex euphonium-valve trombone instruments were made by Conn in the late 1880s. In 1889, Sousa's solo euphoniumist, Michael Raffayalo adopted the instrument. These instruments became popular with soloists for their ability to provide different sounds and echo effects with the same horn. There are newsreel shots of the John Phillip Sousa Band with a rank of his "raincatcher" upward bell sousaphones and with a front row of double bell euphoniums! Their popularity waned after WWII but they were made up to the 1960s with the last offer in a King catalog.