Since I created my website from time to time I get asked what model instrument someone has, or to confirm what someone thinks the model is they own. So, this article is my attempt to provide a guide to recognizing the different models trumpet produced by Conn over the years. As usual, this guide doesn't cover models first produced after 1969. Also, I assume that an instrument is in original, unmodified condition. I am not claiming that this is a complete guide covering every single model, but it should cover most bases. This guide does not cover early model cornets (1875-1915). That is a topic best left for another article.
There are two approaches to figuring out what model an instrument is. The first is through the serial number and either the model number stamped on the instrument or the model name engraved on this instrument. The second approach is to look at the features of the instrument. I will first deal with recognizing a model through names and numbers. If you don't know or can't tell the name and numbers on an instrument, scroll down to the section titled "Recognizing an instrument by its features".
Recognizing an instrument through names and numbers
The very first thing you need to do is to check and look up the serial number. The serial number is alway stamped on the second valve casing. Check the number stamped there against the Conn serial number list by Lars Kirmser. This should tell you what year the instrument was built. There are some pitfalls here though. If your instrument has a serial number in the 500,000 and possibly 600,000 range then a red warning light should turn on in your head. More about that later. Also note that serial numbers on Pan American models don't match Conn serial numbers.
The next thing to do is to check for model names or numbers. For a period during the 1930's and 1940's Conn stamped the model number underneath the mouthpiece receiver. I suspect this is the case for instruments with a serial number starting with "3" (1935-1952). It might not be easy to see (worn, not stamped very deeply, dirty, etc.), so look closely under a bright light. If you see a model number there (such as "1 2 A"), you are home free (see picture below of a trumpet leadpipe and model number). Else check if there is a name engraved on either the side of the mouthpiece receiver/leadpipe or the bell. Check that name against the list below, which also gives some distinguishing features.
If the name engraved on the leadpipe is "Director" it is either a 14A, 15A, 17A or 18A. If the instrument has a Coprion bell it is either a 17A or an 18A. If it has a brass bell, it is a 14A or 15A. The 15A and 17A are 1960's models, the 14A and 18A were produced in the 1950's (check the serial number). The late model 14A's and 18A's closely resemble the 15A and 17A. Earlier 14A and 18A's have distinctive diagonal braces.
The Connquest is either a 20A, 76A or a 77A. The 20A was produced from 1953 to 1955 and resembles a Director. It can be distinguished from the other two Connquests by the fact that it doesn't come with a third slide finger ring. The removable part of the third slide itself is very short, about the same size as the second slide. Serial numbers should be in the 400,000 and 500,000 range. The 77A was in production from 1957 to 1961. The leadpipe of the 77A curves around to enter the third slide. The 77A does come with an (adjustable) third slide finger ring and full (normal) sized moveable third slide. Serial numbers should be in the 600,000 to 800,000 range. The 76A is more like the 20A in configuration, except that it has wider wrap (and grip). The third slide finger ring is bent up at an angle. Serial numbers should be in the 900,000 range and higher.
The "Victor" name covers many models: the 80A family, of which the late model 80A is the only one that might have the name on the leadpipe. Then there are the 6A Early model, 6A Late model, 10A Early model, 5A and 9A and the 2A.
To start with the latter, the 2A is an Eb cornet shaped like a rather small trumpet.
If your Victor is shaped like a trumpet and the size of a trumpet (21" long) with the letter "A" stamped on the Coprion mouthpiece receiver and has top spring valves and a brass bell it is a late model 6A (1958-1961). Early models 6A have a brass leadpipe and have bottom spring valves.
If your trumpet shaped and sized Victor has a Coprion bell, it is a 10A. Here too there should be a letter "A" stamped on the mouthpiece receiver. Early models 10A have a brass leadpipe and bottom spring valves (1955-1957, serial numbers approximately 500,000-699,999) (later models have a Coprion leadpipe and top spring valves but are called "Artist" (1958-1961, serial numbers approximately 700,000-8xx,xxx)).
On the other hand if it has a Coprion bell and leadpipe and has three "spit valves" it is a 9A (1961-1963, serial numbers approximately 8xx,xxx-999,999). The 9A and 5A both (should, originally) have a distinctive angled-up third slide finger ring. The 5A Victor is identical to the 9A except it doesn't have any Coprion. The 80A has an "opera glass" tuning slide (upside down "U" with a turning wheel in the middle).
A Connstellation cornet can be either a 37A/38A or a 28A. The 28A is very similar to the 38B Connstellation (q.v.) in that it is shaped and sized (21") like a trumpet. There should be the letter "A" stamped on the mouthpiece receiver. The 37A and 38A are almost identical. From 1961 to 1963 the 37A had a nickel plated brass bell (although that is contested), the 38A had a nickel plated Coprion bell. From 1964 on the original coprion bell 38A was dropped and the 37A was renamed 38A. All these Connstellations are recognizable by the first valve trigger. The 37A/38A is a much smaller instrument than the 28A. Other than that an easy recognition factor is that the 28A has the main tuning slide facing the bell, whereas the 37A/38A has the main tuning slide towards the player.
This is a 1955, possibly 1954 12A Coprion. A rare instrument indeed, because in 1955 Conn modified the 12A Coprion by increasing its weight and adding nickel trim. It did the same thing with the 12B Coprion. However, the 12A (and 12B) was dropped in 1955, so many of these 1955 12A's could not have been made. If you own one of these 12A's with "Coprion" engraved on the leadpipe: it is rare! And please drop me a line.
Recognizing an instrument by its features
In this section I will list several features, starting with the more distinct characteristics. There is a certain amount of overlap between the features, so please read through the entire section.
If it has a Coprion bell, it is either a 10A Victor Early model, 10A Artist Late model, 12A Coprion, 17A Director or 18A Director. If it has a Coprion leadpipe in addition to the Coprion bell, it is a later model 10A. If it has a brass bell in addition to the nickel plated valve casing and nickel trim on the slides, it is an early model 10A. If it is cornet shaped with an angled up third slide finger ring and has three "spit valves", it is a 9A. The 12A doesn't have a third slide finger ring. If you think you own a 12A Coprion but it has nickel trim on the valve casing, it is a 12A Coprion Special. I have yet to see proof of the existence of this instrument, so please contact me. If the instrument has an adjustable third slide finger ring and nickel trim on the slides but not on the valve casing it is a 17A or an 18A. Early models 18A have diagonal braces. Later models 18A and 17A's have (in Conn terms) normal straight braces.
If it has a Coprion leadpipe and a Coprion bell it is a later model 10A Artist (see above). If it has a brass bell, it is a later model 6A Victor.
Trigger on first slide
The first valve trigger was used on the 37A/38A Connstellation or 28A Connstellation. See above for a more detailed description.
Opera glass tuning slide
If there is an upside down U-shaped piece of tubing with a turning wheel in the middle of the U (the "opera glass" tuning slide) located between the player and the first valve, it is either an early 80A, late 80A, 81-92A, 4A, 38A or 8A. These are all "Victor" models of the 80A-family. They are easily distinguished by the opera glass tuning slide between the player and the first valve. There are models with and without "mechanism". This "mechanism" is a set of rods that adjusts slides automatically as the instrument is tuned in either Bb or A. There are also high and low pitch versions and versions with a different bore. These factors combine to many different models which I find very difficult to tell apart. Post-WWII models are invariably the 80A, serial numbers 356,000 and higher. The 80A-like models with the mechanism have top spring valves; as far as I can tell the 80A models without the mechanism, and certainly all post-war models, have bottom spring valves. The 8A Victor closely resembles the 80A except that it is longer and narrower, more "trumpet like" than the 80A (which is itself often confused for a trumpet). The 4A is a small bore version of the early 80A. The 38A is very similar to the pre-war late model 80A, except that it is slightly shorter.
Nickel plated valve casing
If the instrument has an entirely nickel plated valve casing (and not brass with nickel trim) and doesn't have any Coprion to it, then it is an early 6A Victor (1955-1957).
Nickel trim valve casing
If the valve casing is brass with nickel trim (and not entirely nickel plated), it could be a 12A Coprion Special. If so, please drop me a line!
Nickel trim slides only
If there is nickel trim on the slides, but no nickel trim at all on the valve casing, it could be a 14A Director, 15A Director, 17A Director, 18A Director or 77A Connquest. The 17A and 18A both have a Coprion bell, the others don't. The earlier models 14A and 18A have distinctive diagonal braces as opposed to the normal straight braces. The 77A has top spring valves, the others are bottom spring. This of course might be a bit tricky to tell from the outside.
No bell rim wire
Connqueror, 40A or 48A. These are the "vocabell" models. The 40A is long and narrower than the 48A.
Octagonal valve casing
Again, Connqueror, 40A or 48A "Vocabell". See "No bell rim wire".