Conn Early Production Sousaphone
Date: (see text). Instrument on display at the Elkhart County Historical Museum. Picture with kind permission of the Elkhart country Historical Museum.
I am reliably informed by Ian Church (sousaphone historian) that this instrument is not actually the first Conn sousaphone, but a later model from the 1910's or 1920's. Ian says: "Sousa himself stated back in the early 1920s that he had JW Pepper build him the ORIGINAL sousaphone out of one of their largest helicons with an upright bell. Although it was used for a few years after 1893, Sousa preferred the sound and quality of Conn instruments (and was something of an endorsement) and used these almost exclusively for the duration of the band. I've played the Conn raincatcher and examined it and it is by no means a prototype or other early model - yes some outer appearance such as the guard stripping and bell size are different from the standard model, but as this was likely an early model just to get something out there, it is different."
This instrument is on display at the Elkhart County Historical Museum, which is located in the Rush Memorial Center at:
304 West Vistula
P.O. Box 434
Bristol, IN 46507
Phone (574) 848-4322
Fax (574) 848-5703
If you ever find yourself in the area of Bristol, Indiana (just of I80/I90) it is well worth the visit. In addition to other Conn instruments, the museum contains many other interesting displays.