Grand Rapids Band Instrument Company

  • Grand Rapids Band Instrument Company was a alternate line of York. Made in the same building as other York horns from 1911 to some unknown date previous to 1930. The added product name was apparently just a way to seek more business by approaching more retail dealers. I have a stencil made for Sears that is exactly the same as one made as a Grand Rapids with only the middle slide reversed......which I posted about someplace on this site. There were various trim least you could get one in lacquered brass or silver plate. All the cornet or trumpet models I've handled seem to be of quality materials and workmanship and a step above the no quality bottom of the barrel imported central European horns sold by stores like Jenkins as house brands in the early 20th Century.

    What's interesting about this cornet is a mystery concerning if a particular famous person ever played one for a brief time. That person is the most famous trumpet player that American has ever produced..even though the instrument is pretty pedestrian. Louis Armstrong would possibly have played a Grand Rapids Band Instrument/York cornet in the early 1920's Maybe on an excursion river boat or maybe somewhere in the Kid Ory to King Oliver time period. Certainly this horn wouldn't have been one he held onto long..even when he was just starting out. If he played it on the boats he would have been a horn he learned to read music with so he could play with what was a "legitimate" band. However..... it's a mystery to me if what I read on Players and Horns is true or not.

    His first cornet:
    simply marked "Made in Austria" (probably made in Boehmen)
    Tonk cornet/Chicago on the riverboats.
    York cornet/Grand Rapids - (from Joe Oliver);
    Harry B Jay Columbia cornet,trumpet leadpipe/mpc (Oliver Creole Jazz Band)
    Blessing Super Artist cornets
    Switched to Buescher 10-22R trumpet for his Hot five/seven recordings
    Conn 56B
    Selmer Challenger,ie balanced forward to Grand Prix with a #19leadpipe.
    (3 of his horns are still at his home in Corona Nyc.)
    Martin Troubadour trumpet (in the 1932 film "Rhapsody in Black and Blue")
    EMO (played on at least one of his Australian tours)

    The images are of a USA line model with a serial number that would make it 1923/1924 if the York numbers were used.


  • @Niner Niner, great post, many thanks. This type of detailed, historical info is most important for those of us interested in the vintage side of things. The industries heritage should not be lost through either neglect or ignorance.

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