Introduced in 1959, the Argenta model is a large-bore cornet made of solid nickel silver, available with and without the first-valve tuning trigger. The Argenta model was discontinued c.1973 and its place in the Reynolds catalog was taken by the nickel-plated Onyx cornet.
The Argenta line of horns were some of very few band instruments, other than French horns, made completely of solid nickel silver. According to Reynolds’ trademark application, the name “Argenta” was taken from the Spanish word for “silver” even though, despite its close appearance, there is no actual silver in nickel silver. Nickel silver, also known as German silver or neusilber, is an alloy of copper, zinc and nickel. A representative alloy mix contains 65% copper, 17% zinc and 18% nickel (compared to 80% copper and 20% zinc for standard yellow brass). Nickel silver has similar characteristics to brass, but is harder and stiffer, making it a durable alternative often used on high-wear areas of a horn, including valve casings, hand grips, tuning slides and trim.
Instruments made of solid nickel silver tend to have a darker, clearer tone compared to standard brass alloys. Nickel silver emphasizes the lower and higher overtone series, resulting in a sound that resonates very clearly in the corresponding registers. Nickel silver horns also tend to project more dramatically than other brass alloys and can easily throw an ensemble section out of balance without care; they are often used where a homogeneous section balance isn’t emphasized, e.g. as a soloist instrument or in a small mixed-instrument horn line. That said, many have found satisfaction using Argenta instruments within big band groups and other similar settings.
1959 Roth-Reynolds catalog:
This cornet was an immediate and sensational success. Band directors and professionals admired its beauty from the start, have tried it and have changed to it everywhere. Never in the history of band instrument making has a better cornet been made and has found such immediate success and acceptance. Furnished in deluxe Gladstone style case.
1966 Reynolds catalog:
The same features as the solid nickel-silver Argenta TU-26 Trumpet make this cornet the choice of accomplished artists. Available without first valve trigger.
1970 Reynolds catalog:
The Argenta is designed for the cornet player who desires a ‘dark’, mellow tone. It has the same distinctive characteristics as that of the Contempora, except that it is solid nickel silver. Lightning-fast valve action affords quick response. Available without first valve trigger (CR-29) at lower cost.