F. E. Olds Trombone Est. 1919 (custom?)

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F. E. Olds Trombone Est. 1919 (custom?)

Post by mcktbone » Fri Jun 15, 2018 12:28 pm

I recently purchased a F. E. Olds trombone with the serial number 1223. The engraving reads "Made for John H. Bear by F. E. Olds". The case also has a custom metal plate that reads John H. Bear, Lancaster, PA. There is a bear engraved on the upper bell. Through research, I have found that Olds started using the bear as trademark sometime in the mid 1920's. Referencing the serial number, this horn should have been made around 1919. I am trying to find information on John H. Bear. I'm also interested to learn if the Bear last name had anything to do with the origins of the trademark. I have attached a few pictures.
Bear engraving
IMG_0446.JPG (1.46 MiB) Viewed 186 times
Bell engraving
IMG_0444.JPG (2.03 MiB) Viewed 186 times
Olds trombone
IMG_0438.JPG (2.2 MiB) Viewed 186 times
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Re: F. E. Olds Trombone Est. 1919 (custom?)

Post by BGuttman » Fri Jun 15, 2018 1:37 pm

JohnL (our resident Olds expert) has some old catalogs where they use the slogan "it's the Bear" and I don't think they are referring to a particular musician; especially one as little known or remembered as this one.

I have one of these as well. Mine appears to have a chrome plated bell (too blue to be silver). It's an 8" bell, which I understand was unusual for this period. It's a great playing horn, but I can't use it for jazz because it tends to fall apart when doing mute changes or plunger work. I guess there was a reason the bell nut became standard.

I hope you can find out more about Mr. Bear. The engraving is unusual. Normally just says "Made by F.E. Olds" or "Made by F.E. Olds and son".
Bruce Guttman
Merrimack Valley Philharmonic Orchestra
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