Conn 18A Director
Date: 1955, Owner unknown
Notice the angled cross braces. This is a typical feature of the early models 14A, 14B, 18A and 18B, all built between 1954 and 1957. Also notice that these models don't have a third valve slide or finger ring. There does appear to be a small "slide" at the end of the third valve tube to allow cleaning. Interestingly, the 1956 catalog gives the bell diameter as 4 5/8", while the 1957 catalog says 5 1/8". Apparently the tuning slide connected to the leadpipe has an expanding bore; the bottom tube is a larger bore than the top tube.
I have learned that the third slide, without the finger ring to adjust the pitch of a low D and C#, is slightly longer than it is on modern instruments. On modern instruments the low Eb is in tune, but the low D and C# are quite sharp. On these older cornets with the longer third slide and no finger ring the Eb is a bit flat and the D and C# are slightly sharp, but not as sharp as they are on later instruments. It was thought that the slightly flat Eb and slightly sharp D and C# were within the abilities of the player to lip into tune.
As far as I can tell at this point, all Conn cornets built before 1958 take a short shank cornet mouthpiece as opposed to the 2¾" "Bach-style" long shank cornet mouthpiece. The long shank cornet mouthpieces won't properly fit a pre-1958 Conn cornet and won't give the proper intonation or playing characteristics of a short shank cornet mouthpiece. All of Conn's "Connstellation" cornet mouthpieces are long shank mouthpieces. The "Improved Precision" Conn mouthpieces such as the Conn 4 are long shank if there is a "ridge" halfway down the shank, and short shank if there is no ridge (in which case it is a "Precision" mouthpiece). All Conn cornet mouthpieces built before the "Improved Precision" series (ridge), such as the "Precision" series (no ridge) are short shank mouthpieces.
However, I have been told by someone who purchased a 1956 18A Director that it came with an original long shank Conn 4 cornet mouthpiece. This would suggest that the above date of 1958 might be incorrect and that the change to long shank mouthpieces occured a few years earlier, perhaps as early as 1955.
What Conn said in 1957:
World's first and only low-priced short model cornet with famous seamless Coprion bell and Crysteel valves. Many features formerly found only on higher-priced cornets. True cornet tone, accurate intonation, professional bore, new valve caps and finger tips. Nylon piston guides, for quiet performance. Length 17", weight 2 lbs. 10 oz., bell diameter 5 1/8". Outfit includes new design Director case, plus music lyre and correct mouthpiece.
Highly polished brass, durably nickel trimmed, with seamless Coprion bell, protected by long lasting, acid-resistant LUSTRE-CONN finish.