Model numbers and serial number dating are not available for this time period, making it difficult to accurately put together an exact production timeline. Because actual model numbers are not available, I’ve grouped the examples below by the physical materials of their construction — primarily by which combination of parts were made of nickel silver and which were brass. The three parts that were variously available in nickel silver were the leadpipe, the balusters (upper valve casings) and the slide tubing coming from each valve. I’ve identified four material combinations so far (Models A-D), each with either a brass bell or sterling silver bell.
Reynolds also produced cornets for the U.S. Army Air Force (USAAF) service bands throughout the 1940s. These instruments have a silverplate finish with a different engraving style from the standard cornets and a large “U.S.” mark engraved on the bell rim.
Cornets from Reynolds’ first decade of operations feature an ornate engraving pattern across the width of the bell flare. Both brass and sterling silver bells feature significant filigree with the latter adding inlay gold as well.
After Scherl & Roth took over operations in 1946, it appears that the engraving pattern changed to a vertical block lettering style. The brass bells were much simpler in style than the sterling silver bells and would not have required as much “finishing” time on the production line. The change in engraving patterns happened around SN 9000.
Circa 1949, there were minor design changes made to F.A. Reynolds cornets: while the overall design and bell engravings remained the same, the updated models can be distinguished by their lower profile valve buttons and flat bottom valve caps. Serial number 21000 marks the approximate change to the updated design. In conjunction with these changes, the Reynolds cornet was designated as the “Professional” model. Of the different variants listed above, only [D] appears to have been retained.
Reynolds cornets made c.1952 and later are marked “Made by Roth-Reynolds” instead of “F.A. Reynolds”. In addition, the main bell engraving changed to a lengthwise script that simply says “Reynolds”. Serial number 30000 marks a general introductory point of these changes.
Reynolds continued to offer a sterling silver bell option throughout the 1950s and early ’60s. The basic sterling silver bell (model 63) had an added “Sterling” word engraved below the large “Reynolds” script, while the deluxe engraving style (models 61, 62) added the fancy filigree and hand-burnished gold inlay that set those models apart. The latter does not appear to have added the “Sterling” designation.
Notes and Quotes
195x Roth-Reynolds catalog:
Reynolds Professional Cornets and Trumpets have been the choice of discriminating musicians for over two decades. Graceful design and famous free-blowing qualities distinguish the ‘Professional’ models. Instant valve response with solid nickel silver pistons. Built with either brass bell or beautifully finished sterling silver bell. All models equipped with deluxe Gladstone cases.
1958, 1959 Roth-Reynolds catalog:
The most beautiful cornet made. Favorite of famous artists for many years: Dr. Frank Simon, Col. Irons and many others. The PROFESSIONAL [1959: "Sterling"] cornet possesses tone qualities ideal for solo or ensemble. Fast, solid nickel silver pistons of perfect fit and a correctly tapered bore produce a rare combination of perfection. [...] All models equipped with Gladstone cases.
The original F.A. Reynolds cornets were based on the “underslung” design of the “King” Master Model cornets that Foster Reynolds helped create in the 1920s and ’30s at the H.N. White Company. The King and Reynolds models are considered by many to be some of the most outstanding cornets available in the first half of the 1900s.
Models before serial number 5000 featured an adjustment ring on the main tuning slide for “quick change” B♭/A tuning. This is a feature that Foster Reynolds undoubtedly carried over from his work at H.N. White, where a similar tuning ring had been featured on the King “Master Model” cornet.
Trumpet forum member iiipopes wrote the following regarding Reynolds’ “underslung” tuning slide design:
As far as I am concerned, [the] design in the bringing of the tuning slide underneath the valve block to the back side of the third valve is unequaled genius. It is much more comfortable to my left hand, as the heel of my palm rests on the lead pipe, keeping me from pronating my left hand, and by getting both the tubing and the heel of the palm out of the way, the left hand fingers are not cramped in working the 1st & 3rd valve slides. It also feels more balanced and not bell heavy or top heavy as the center of gravity is lowered on the horn, making it easier to hold. Moreover, the common sense expedient of the little extra medallion of brass on the ferrule and knuckle going into the valve block as a protection against dents has the positive effect of damping non-harmonic vibrations, helping the cornet retain center of pitch better.