Added c.1950 Reynolds catalog

On the heels of my recent acquisition of a c.1949 F.A. Reynolds catalog comes another catalog of the same general vintage. This c.1950 catalog is very similar to the previous catalog, with a few important differences:

  1. The Contempora model name is associated with almost all instruments that were branded “Reynolds” in the earlier catalog. However, note that while the price list at the end has been updated, the catalog pages still refer to “Reynolds” models.
  2. The Emperor line is introduced. Note that the “Tone Tempered” models with nickel-silver bell flares were part of the Roth lineup in 1949. Brass bell models are not shown in the catalog, but are included in the price list at the back.
  3. With the exception of the nickel-silver clarinet, all Regent model instruments have been excised from the catalog, despite the “3 R’s” branding on the catalog cover.
  4. First known use of the “Professional” brand name for the Reynolds cornet and tenor trombone. Why it was not used on the trumpet is unknown.
  5. An Emperor bass trombone with “medium large bore” and an 8½” bell. This likely became the Professional Bass Trombone in later catalogs.

This appears to be a transition catalog. The time period from 1949-1952 is when Scherl & Roth asserted their ownership of the Reynolds business and began to point the product marketing and manufacturing in a new direction. In this catalog, the most well-known brand names of the Reynolds’ catalog are being introduced — Contempora, Emperor, Professional — and the absence of the “F.A. Reynolds” name on the front cover foreshadows the future “Roth-Reynolds” business name.

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Rethinking Emperor model dates

As noted in my previous post, I’ve recently acquired a c.1949 F.A. Reynolds product catalog that introduces the Contempora model line, albeit only the trumpet and bass trombone models.

Given this date, perhaps somewhat more interesting to me was the unexpected absence of the Emperor line. According the Reynolds’ trademark application, the first use of the Emperor trademark for commerce was November 1947, while the first use of the Contempora trademark was May 1949. As such, I would have expected to see an Emperor instrument line in this catalog if the assumed 1949 date is correct. But the only model lines listed are Reynolds (including Contempora), Roth and Regent.

On closer examination, it turns out that the Emperor trademark application was submitted a year later than the Contempora application and perhaps it’s more likely that the model line launched in c.1950 instead of the earlier date (which would also explain why no Emperor instruments have turned up with serial  numbers lower than a Contempora).

As such, I’m now speculating that the Emperor line may have been introduced when the Regent line was discontinued and the Roth line became the new “student” model line. The Emperor then inherited “advanced” features such as the nickel-silver bell flare that had previously been exclusive Roth features.

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New 1949 F.A. Reynolds catalog

I recently had the fortune to win an eBay auction for an older F.A. Reynolds catalog that I’m tentatively dating to c.1949 based on several points of reference:

  • It is clearly after 1946, when Scherl & Roth took over operations, but before c.1952 when the business name changed to “Roth-Reynolds”. So between 1946-1952…
  • The trumpet and cornet illustrations all feature the flattened bottom valve caps that were introduced in the late 1940s. This design change occurred circa serial number 21000, which is in the same range of the first known Contempora models.
  • The “new” Contempora trumpet is featured, but the cornet is not mentioned. In fact, the only other instrument in the catalog to explicitly mention the “Contempora” name is the bass trombone, although the catalog illustration still shows an “F.A. Reynolds” engraving style. All other instruments were simply referred to as “Reynolds” models.

As such, this catalog is probably from the fall of 1949, a few months after the claimed “first use” of the Contempora trademark. The primary instrument lines are Reynolds, Roth and Regent, as illustrated on the cover art at right, though the latter is relegated to the back cover and only the Regent trumpet, cornet, trombone and clarinet are listed from the full line of instruments that was previously documented.

Note also that the Contempora designation was treated as a sub-brand of the Reynolds line, e.g. “Reynolds Contempora”. This is most likely why early Contempora models have “Reynolds” engraved across the bell flare, in addition to the familiar “retro” Contempora script.

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Serial number tables updated

Based on the considerations of my last few serial number-related posts, plus external confirmation on the timing of some engraving style changes, I’ve updated the primary serial number table for Reynolds instruments, as well as the dates on the Reynolds engraving styles page and specification pages for F.A. Reynolds trumpets, cornets and trombones.

The key data point is that the change in engraving styles to the style shown at right on these instruments occurred in late 1945 or 1946, rather than c.1942 as previously projected. Based on documented horns, the change occurred around SN 9000.

In addition to meaning that fewer horns were made in the first ten years than previously thought, the primary takeaway is that there was a rapid acceleration in the manufacturing rate after Scherl & Roth took over in 1946, going from SN 9000 to ~21000 in the spring of 1949 when the first Contempora instruments were made.

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Speculating on early serial numbers, 1936-1952

I recently acquired a 1946 newspaper ad that contains a number of interesting nuggets: first, the note at the bottom that Reynolds was a division of Scherl & Roth — this is consistent with a July 1946 newspaper reference to Max Scherl as president of F.A. Reynolds, the position formerly held by Foster Reynolds. It seems to be confirmed that Foster Reynolds had either left or stepped away from running the company by mid-1946.

Second, note the illustration of the trumpet. While the bell is only shown from the side, the engraving style is consistent with Reynolds’ earliest instruments. For trumpets, cornets and trombones, there are two key engraving styles on F.A. Reynolds instruments, with a change occurring around SN 9000, which would be c.1942-43 by my serial number estimates. However, this is a 1946 advertisement, meaning that either an old trumpet illustration was still being used or that the change in engraving styles happened later than previously estimated.

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