1914 Silver Holton New Proportion Shepherds Crk Cornet

Discussion in 'Vintage Trumpets / Cornets' started by Phatmon, Nov 13, 2004.

  1. Phatmon

    Phatmon New Friend

    Oct 1, 2004
    Forest Lake, Mn
    I am interested in this horn can anyone tell me anything about it. thanks :)
  2. tom turner

    tom turner Mezzo Forte User

    Oct 25, 2003
    Georgia, USA

    This is a great time to be inquiring about the Holton New Proportion cornet.

    There are currently quite a few of them on eBay for you to look at photos of actual horns, cases, etc.

    I'll actually group the Holton New Proportion model, and the Holton-Clarke model together for the sake of this discussion. They are quite similar. Since there are zillions of Holton cornets coming out of closets from the glory days of the peak of the brass band era, be picky and get a good one!!!


    1. A Chicago horn

    If possible, look for a horn stamped "Chicago" on both the bell and valve cluster.

    Holton moved his factory from Chicago to Elkhorn, Wisconsin in 1918 (some say 1917). His Chicago quality was pretty good, so the Chicago specimens are more highly regarded by collectors.

    2. A full kit (an original Holton case with ALL slides and accessories)

    I cannot stress this enough, in the case of these two models! Holton cornets of this era came with BOTH "High Pitch" and "Low Pitch" valve slides. "High Pitch" slides, made for the 18th century pitch, are pitched about A=455. "Low Pitch" slides will put the horn in the modern era pitch. If you buy a horn with just one set of slides, you may find they are mixed . . . or that the horn only has the High Pitch slides.

    Also, a full kit raises the value of the horn at least 10-15% . . . and keeps it more secure too. Several on eBay currently have newer, cheap "generic" cases that don't fit the horn . . . and don't have all the slides, etc.

    3. IMPORTANT! Look . . . and ask the sellers . . . about the famous Holton cracked leadpipe problem.

    The way the front heavy wrap of the main tuning slides section put extra stress on the leadpipe, many Holtons suffered stress cracks (zagged tears) on their leadpipes . . . usually at the initial end where the mouthpiece receiver is soldered to it but sometimes at its end where it is soldered to the tuning slide receiver.

    There's a New Proportion going off eBay today that appears to have quite a nasty, jagged "Holton" crack near the tuning slide receiver.


    The apparent tear goes quite a bit around the entire receiver. "My technician said it played well," is a quote from that ad. It looks like a lot of bids on this horn too . . . until you look at the bidding and see that only one person has really bid . . . and then another person has been picking away to find out the reserve and run up "apparent" interest in that horn. That particular one is worth $150 at best with missing slides, improper case and a cracked leadpipe to boot.

    Always ask the seller about these things before bidding . . . for so many people put in a disclaimer that they know nothing about horns. Make 'em look!


    Frank Holton was a trombone player who built his initial reputation on making great trombones! He branched out into trumpets and cornets later, and his cornets . . . especially the "Chicago" cornets . . . were considered pretty "decent." The identical horns stamped "Elkhorn" are not held as high. Holton went after the incredibly huge amateur market of that era (MUCH larger than today's market) rather than the pro market.

    Holton was actually a "late comer" in the shepherd's crook cornet heyday . . . starting to make shepherd's crook models when other companies were abandoning them for the brighter, more trumpet-like long bell cornets in the dawning of the jazz era.

    They rank well below the best of the brass band era, the incredible Boston 3-Star fixed leadpipe model. I'd also rank it below the short model shepherd's crook York cornet of that same decade . . . as well as a couple of the Conn models of that time as top-flight "players."

    The Holtons were ok horns . . . not bad at all . . . but not exceptional. I had a "Chicago" in my stable of vintage horns for a short while in 2000.

    Holton focused on the band market back then, rather than the small pro market, so lots were sold to students and adult amateurs of that era . . . and many can still be found today via eBay. They don't command high prices at all, so one can be had at a very reasonable price, and they look cool too!
    Sidekick and RandyTx like this.
  3. High C Double G

    High C Double G New Friend

    Apr 2, 2007
    Hi Tom:

    Really good info here. Thank you for sharing your knowledge. I was looking at this horn ---

    eBay.ie: Frank Holton Cornet Circa. 1915 Serial # 15930 (item 160104084649 end time 14-Apr-07 00:11:05 BST)

    I noticed that the seller states that there are 2 additional slides. Should there be three or maybe four for the correct pitch adjustments?

    And by your statements, these are really very mass produced mid or entry level horns.

    Sorry to go on and on, but are these horns also a small bore horn, Medium, Medium large, or Large bore? I am used to a free blowing - insert lousy joke here - horn.

    This, for me, all started with my first horn being a "borrowed" Bach Strad cornet and my first owned horn being a Circa 1966-68 nickel plate sheppards hook type bell probably student level Holton cornet - This nickel plate horn did have the more modern lead pipe back around to the forward facing tuning slide and then to the third valve (complete circle type, as did the Bach). I so do remember being a complete brat (even at such a young age) and whining and complaining that I like the Bach better. My dad explained to me that basically he also had to buy shoes for all of us kids and this was a good horn for me, so quit the complaining otherwise the Holton is going back and I would have nothing. My dad was great at putting things into perspective.

    Okay I rant. Thanks for all who chime in on this one.

    Last edited: Apr 14, 2007
  4. allinsts

    allinsts New Friend

    Dec 7, 2009
    I have a Holton NP Cornet with two conjoined attached lead pipes and an extra crook to attach the 2nd leadpipe to the body. Sid Glickman
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2010
  5. ComeBackKid

    ComeBackKid Fortissimo User

    May 11, 2009
    Yorba Linda, CA
    Hello, Sid. I see that this is your first post on TM. So, welcome to the community here. I would recommend that you go to the "Introductions and Greetings" section and post some information about yourself. We like to get to know the new members and their background. Then, go to the top of this section (Vintage Trumpets / Cornets) and start a new thread about your Holton cornet. It is much more likely to be noticed and generate some responses if it is a new thread with a title that relates to your model. This thread is 5 years old so the members who made the original posts may not be active at this time.

    Good luck.
  6. aptrpt12

    aptrpt12 New Friend

    Dec 14, 2009

    I happen to have this same horn for sale, in good condition with all the extra slides and two original mouthpieces with 2 different cup shapes. Contact Tim Moran Woodwinds: Welcome! for info, price, and photos.
  7. joe1joey

    joe1joey Mezzo Piano User

    Jul 3, 2010
    E.Panhandle WV
    A Revelation to me!
  8. joe1joey

    joe1joey Mezzo Piano User

    Jul 3, 2010
    E.Panhandle WV
    A small BTW... as to the idea that Holton was marketing to the non-pro, or more to the point, that the Holton was not a top notch horn...ever is quite an oversimplification for the sake of comment on their place in the pre Leblanc (then Selmer) days of traditional cornet construct. Their horns were to be found in all professional orchestras of merit and in numbers rivaling Bach's in their first few decades of production. Their change to sell to the masses as well as producing professional level horns did not preclude the quality of either at first and was a financial downtime for them because of it. The collegiate line, developed for local band, amateur musicians and students saved them and allowed the continued production of top quality pro-tier horns (as a priority) until their sellout to Leblanc in the early sixties. They continued to thrive, still making excellent pro horns...but now in few number compared to their wildly popular rental offering, well built but pedestrian student horn, the T-600 and C-600 family of trumpets and cornets. As a final side note...the Holton Clarke has become widely recognized as an excellent cornet and commands much higher prices due to increased awareness. This is true of intermediate and professional Holton horns in general (unfortunately). Some well known examples of this are; the Llewellyn, Revelation/ 48's and 45's, the Stratodyne, B-47, B-51, the Al Hirt Special, the MF line, Galaxy, etc, etc. . The student line 602's are such in number that they can be picked up for very little...sometimes shipping being more than the horn. They are excellent student horns as they are ML bore, sure slotting and with the latter model (602P) inclusive of a first valve saddle/slide suit the student and comeback player well as a first horn. No more and no less than a King 600 series...as now being a Selmer horn, they truly ARE the same product.
  9. SteveRicks

    SteveRicks Fortissimo User

    Aug 15, 2009
    Hey, someone post some pics so we can see what we are discussing. Also, so how many s
    Life's in a full set?

    Tom- great info. Thanks
  10. Silversorcerer

    Silversorcerer Forte User

    Jun 9, 2010
    I don't know much about the cornets, but I'm sure my curiosity and a good deal will eventually get the better of me. The first Holton instrument I bought was a "Chicago" mellophone, which just has a sound that no other classic mellophone I have (which includes several) comes even close to. The fit and finish on that horn is exquisite and it has the typical Holton top-sprung copper valves.

    The second Holton I took a chance on is an early pre-patent notice version of what must have become the Revelation model a few years later. It is an Elkhorn Holton, and there is absolutely nothing about this trumpet to suggest it is anything less than a completely professional trumpet. It has a gorgeous rich tone, quick response, plays very easily, and it is quite distinct from the timbre of my Conn 22B and King Liberty trumpets, which I would also give very high marks to. I think this is probably similar to the one Llewellyn was playing before the "Llewellyn" model with a larger bore was designed specifically for him. The quality of the silver plating is especially nice. This horn had obviously been played quite a lot over the years, but the plating is not worn away anywhere except from what looks like frequent use of a mute in the bell. It is beautifully built in every way.

    To me the sound is quite a bit warmer than my other trumpets, but very focused and not a trace of shrill harmonics that can be bothersome on some other trumpets. This is the trumpet some have referred to as a "poor man's Martin Committee", but I don't take that to mean it is less of a trumpet than the Committee, it is just a bit overlooked. Lately there seems to be more awareness and I think as you see more serious players trying these Holtons out, the perception of the quality will begin to be more accurate. I know it's a trumpet I would not easily give up. In fact I am keeping an eye out for a second Holton trumpet, but I might go for a later more contemporary one like the Stratodyne.

    Like I say, the Holton cornets are somewhat unknown to me, but it was Frank Holton that Couturier first chose to collaborate with when attempting to build a cornet that would surpass the Conn Wonder that he played for a large part of his career. I know the Conn Wonder cornets well;- I have three of them including a rare large bore version. It seems to me that if Couturier (later he also worked with J.W. York on the York Couturier Wizard design) chose Holton to work with, at the time Holton must have had a reputation as building professional cornets. Couturier was an eccentric, eventually starting his own production facility, but I would think his early willingness to partner with Holton indicates that Holton was a reputable maker of fine instruments.

Share This Page