Heliconology, Part II

I have long desired a helicon, as I have previous discussed in my post on Heliconology, Part I. I’ve been considering several instruments, including a beautiful four-valved European (from the little-known maker Ernst David) instrument from circa 1890. However, as I prefer American-made horns, I have finally settled on a Holton from roughly the same vintage as my Holton Special trombone. The trombone is 1912; the helicon is from 1917. Both are Chicago-made instruments. In fact, the helicon’s serial number identifies it as one of the very last instruments made in Chicago before the company moved to Elkhart, Indiana in 1918. I purchased the horn from the fine folks at Dillon Music in New Jersey and the horn arrived in California a week or so ago.

In appearance, the horn is silver-plated. At present, it is entirely tarnished to the point of appearing nearly black in color. I am having the instrument cleaned and brought into playing condition by the wonderful folks at Dick Akright’s Best Music Repairs. Although Dick’s guys do excellent work, I expect to put in some serious elbow grease before the horn returns to its natural beauty. But eventually I shall have some pictures to post here at Newcomb’s Notations.

The repairs themselves will involve a fair amount of work. To begin with, the horn is missing the neck, the bits, the third valve stem and button and some bracing. Dick’s crew started work on it a couple of weeks ago and they estimated approximately two weeks to do the work I am requesting, so I hope to have the instrument in playable condition before too long. I shall post more when I receive it.

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