FYI: Olds, Reynolds and the 1940s

Discussion in 'Vintage Trumpets / Cornets' started by contempora, Dec 21, 2005.

  1. contempora

    contempora New Friend

    Jan 17, 2005
    Burnsville, MN
    Everyone pretty much knows that Olds and Reynolds merged in the 1960s (under common ownership by Chicago Musical Instrument Co., later known as Norlin) and used common manufacturing lines. But the unofficial relationship between the two companies appears to go much earlier than that - consider the following two examples:

    [1] Based on the serial number research I've been doing on Reynolds, it appears that the Emperor line of trumpet, cornet and trombone was introduced in the mid 1940s - certainly before Foster Reynolds sold his company to Roth in 1946. One of the design options of the Emperor line was the "Silver Flare" nickel-silver bell flare.

    After Foster Reynolds sold his company, he "retired" and did consulting work for CMI, who had purchased F.E. Olds shortly after World War II. In 1948, Reynolds was sent to California to set up manufacturing of a full brass line for Olds. The 1949 Olds Catalog lists the new Studio model trumpet and cornet, now with "Brilliant Bell" nickel-silver bell flares. Coincidence? Probably not...

    [2] Vise versa, Olds had introduced the Super and Recording Super lines of trumpet, cornet and trombone in the early 1930s, certainly by the time of the 1941 Catalog. One of the distinctive features of course is the nickel-silver tone ring, not found on other major manufacturers (Conn, Bach, King, Holton, etc.)

    Like the Emperor, the Reynolds Contempora brand appears to have been introduced in the early-to-mid 1940s. While the Contempora small brass designs are descended from the King Master models, the Contempora also incorporates the nickel-silver tone ring and bronze-alloy bell that the Olds horns were known for. It's also around this time that Reynolds trombones undergo a design evolution and adopt the Olds-style triangular bracing ferrules rather than the King-style bracing/counterweights evident in the early Reynolds years.

    The probable link? During World War II, Olds shut down instrument manufacturing and made wartime goods instead. Reynolds, however, received contracts for the Armed Forces service bands and continued to make instruments through the early 1940s. Did design staff from Olds move to Cleveland and join Reynolds? Did Foster Reynolds have a relationship with CMI in the 1940s (CMI at that time was an Olds distributor and would have been impacted by the cessation of instrument manufacturing) that influenced the creation of the Contempora brand? I'm not so sure about those answers, but they seem to be likely connections between these two companies.

    I would warmly welcome any information about this time period that would clarify the relationship between Olds and Reynolds - it seems that their histories are far more connected than just the later 1960s and 1970s mergers.
  2. Robert Rowe

    Robert Rowe Mezzo Piano User

    Dec 24, 2004
    Hello, ElShaddai --

    Can't help you with any information regarding the 1940's connections with OLDS and Reynolds ... sorry.

    I was endeavoring (today) to register my two Reynolds Trumpets (a Contempora and a Ranger), on your website. Didn't seem to accept my entry (??).

    Robt Rowe
  3. contempora

    contempora New Friend

    Jan 17, 2005
    Burnsville, MN

    Sorry- everything's still manual through email. I got your email and the SNs will be added the next time I update the site. I sent a note back but your filter intercepted it and I haven't had a chance to fill out the permissions request...

  4. tom turner

    tom turner Mezzo Forte User

    Oct 25, 2003
    Georgia, USA
    Hi ElShaddai,

    I haven't forgotten the JPEGs I promised. My wife has been down in Florida with her mom, and she took the camera.

    I've got it back now though . . . and will try to shoot 'em this Sunday!


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