What is a "COLLECTOR" ??

Discussion in 'Horns' started by Robert Rowe, Mar 5, 2005.

  1. Robert Rowe

    Robert Rowe Mezzo Piano User

    Dec 24, 2004
    I've been curious about this a looong time ....
    Although I have been playing horns longer, I really have a great deal more experience in the world of guitars. I go back to the old "folk music" era (Pete Seeger, Kingston Trio, Bob Dylan, "Hootenany", etc.), and on through Rock-'n'-Roll, "pop", classical, jazz .... I have played professionally and taught guitar, bass and mandolin. During this time, a large number of stringed instruments have "passed through my hands". At first, I acquired certain instruments to achieve a specific sound -- acoustic "Dreadnought" guitars for folk music, Fender and Moserite guitars for "surf music", semi-solid body guitars (Gibson Les Pauls) for "pop", solid-body "pointy head-stock" guitars with "whammy bars" for Eddie Van Halen "shredding", hollow-body "jazz-box" guitars for jazz, etc., etc.....
    Usually, I kept the guitars I had acquired ... sometimes trading for an amplifier or another guitar. About 25-years ago, strong interest developed in vintage guitars, and the values and prices began to rise dramatically. Significantly, the guitars were most valuable when totally original, not one screw or pick-up altered, nor any refinishing.
    A new entity emerged -- The Collector. They were usually guys that used to play in "garage bands", and had grown-up a bit ... getting "real jobs" and raising families; only to return to their musical "roots" and buy guitars that were popular in their formative music years, usually buying the finest-condition examples of their favorite instruments, sometimes the ones they used to "lust for", but could not afford as teen-agers. Then, sometimes, if funds allowed, they would seek-out all the various colors of the guitar that the manufacturer produced.
    During the economic growth during the 1990's, the dreaded "Yuppies" discovered the investment opportunities of certain vintage guitars and mandolins. Also, alarmingly, the Japanese began to "buy up" certain guitars, mainly Moserite and Fender guitars associated with the surf band, "The Ventures" ("Walk, Don't Run", "Pipeline", "Wipe-Out", "Hawaii Five-O") and take them to Japan, where they could double and triple their investment with Japanese "Collectors".
    In the Guitar World, "Collectors" are regarded warily. Some do not know how to play the instruments, or, marginally, at best. They are in it for the money. Others are recognized as knowledgeable sources of information, "decent" players (generally, not exceptional) , and purveyors of quality instruments, ready to buy-and-sell or trade.

    So, at what point does one become considered a "Horn Collector" ? Is the number of instruments significant ? Does the recognized quality, uniqueness, rarity of the horn affect the apellation, "Collector". Should it matter if the "Collector" can play very well ?

    I welcome all comments and opinions ....

    Best Regards,
    Robert Rowe
  2. Tootsall

    Tootsall Fortissimo User

    Oct 25, 2003
    Yee HAW!
    I would say anyone who purchases a horn "just because they like its looks, history, etc." would be a collector. Someone who buys for investment purposes or who is trying to "turn a buck" would be a "dealer" or "investor" (or rabid Ebayer!)

    I will probably get some flak for this but I don't think that one must actually be able to PLAY the horn(s) to be a collector, nor do I think there is a "magic number" or quantity of horns "collected". I seem to recall that there is a technical definition of a "collection" being an organized set of objects with a common theme. Your guitars would certainly qualify. I've had the pleasure of viewing a collection of old pianos (going back well over 100 years)

    One could have a collection of trumpets, cornets, flugelhorns, trombones, rotary valved instruments... etc. ad nauseum. It just depends on what "theme" the owner has selected for his acquisitions.

    As far as quantity is concerned... I think that anyone who purchases even one instrument for the purposes of admiring it and that they cannot and do not play could be defined as a collector.
  3. tom turner

    tom turner Mezzo Forte User

    Oct 25, 2003
    Georgia, USA

    I try to make the annual get togethers of a band of cornet lovers who call themselves "The Cornet Conspiracy."

    It is a very diverse, but very nice group of folks from all over the planet! Most "collect" cornets, but not all.

    Some restore them for a living (like Rich Ita and others), some have written scholarly books about vintage instruments (like Rich Schwartz and Roy Hempley). Still others have websites devoted to the vintage instruments (like Nick DeCarlis of vintagecornets.com and Olds Central's Alan Rouse.

    Some collect a bunch and don't play much. Others are monster players. There's usually a night or two of socializing at an area nightspot, with a rhythm section and they are really fun. There's some great jazz played and several of the members are great musicians!

    I love those sessions, for you hear instruments sounding as gorgeous as they look . . . instruments that sometimes are as much as 100 years old . . . or as new as pre-WWII. In one memorable session a few years ago one could hear great jazz from players using the following horns on the same tune:

    1. A gorgeous "The Olds" hammered bell cornet that Nick DeCarlis was making magic on.

    2. A beautiful Conn Vocabell cornet with special engraving.

    3. A drop-dead gorgeous mid-30's King Silversonic with presentation grade engravings and gold highlights.

    4. A velvet sounding, 100-year old John Heald

    5. My Boston 3-Star

    The velvet, all-cornet sound at a jam session was something to be cherished.

    I think the collectors world, in general, is also this diverse. Some collectors are monster players . . . others probably don't play at all anymore. All share the love and fascination for instruments made in the "glory days" of the brass band boom of 100 years ago.

    Collectors getting together and viewing a huge smorgasboard of vintage horns is intensely exciting too! Back then there were MANY ideas of how to "wrap" the tubing of a horn. Also, back them many horns were ornately engraved by master engravers.

    I don't care if someone can play or not! Saving these horns from the scrap heap and preserving them is a good thing.



    Tom Turner

    PS: PHOTOS OF A PAST ANNUAL MEETING, with captions below photos . . .


    Dr. Richard Schwartz (author of "The Cornet Compendium") and his wonderful wife


    Alan Rouse (Olds Central)


    New York trumpeter/collector Jeff Stockham w/ noted vintage horn restorer Rich Ita


    Bach historical expert Roy Hemsted brought a couple of early Stradivarius cornets and their shop cards


    Gorgeous, very rare Conn 3-in-One Cornet - check out the "wrap!" Sorry, the player's name escapes me


    Nick DeCarlis, of vintagecornets.com. Nick plays wonderful cornet jazz in the style of Hackett!


    Early Trumpetmaking Tools (back when they WERE handmade!)


    Jeff Stockham is an awesome player . . . even when playing a Wild Thing fluglehorn upside down!


    Cliff Blackburn (on right), relaxes "cornet player-style!"

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