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Question about an old Lyon & Healy tuba - plus photos

Postby Bandmaster » Fri Jul 22, 2005 2:49 am

I recently joined another community band, the Pomona Concert Band in Pomona ,CA, and they had told me that they had a band owned tuba that they were hoping to locate and reclaim from the last person that had "borrowed" it. One of our tuba players is borrowing a beat up Miraphone from USC and needs to turn it back in soon. So tonight it finally showed up, returned from the last person to borrow it.

It turns out to be an old 4 valve 6/4 BBb Lyon & Healy BAT, with a serial number of 1649. The bell is engraved "Lyon & Healy", "Own-Make", "Chicago". It doesn't have four upright valves like all the photos I have seen of old Lyon & Healys, but four front valves, large diameter, mounted at a slight downward angle. It looks to be all original, and the serial number on the valve set matches the serial number on the bell. It plays fairly nice in it's present condition. Anybody know anything about this old beast? How old it might be (I'm guessing about 1910ish???), how much it might be worth, and so on? I can't find any references on the net yet. I will get some photos of it next Tuesday at rehearsal and post them here.

We need to send it in to have some minor valve work, the 4th valve sticks and it might have an air leak or two. Plus it needs a good acid bath.
Last edited by Bandmaster on Wed Jul 27, 2005 3:49 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Lew » Fri Jul 22, 2005 7:58 am

I have a copy of a publication called the "Lyon & Healy Band Herald" from 1917. It has photos of their factory in Chicago including photos of instruments being made. It also has drawings and descriptions of their "own make" and "improved own make" instruments. They also sold an "American Professional" series of instruments, which I'm guessing were stencils, imported with the Lyon & Healy name.

A couple of top action Lyon & Healy tubas that Dale Hale had in California were purported to be made by Holton. I know that some have claimed that Lyon & Healy didn't make any of their own instruments. this catalog seems to disprove that.

The catalog that I have shows their "improved own make" BBb tuba, but only with top action valves. Nothing like what you are describing is in this catalog at all. I think that the most likely scenario for your horn is that it was made by Holton, or made by Bohland & Fuchs and imported for Lyon & Healy. If fully restored it's likely to be a very good horn.
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Postby Art Hovey » Fri Jul 22, 2005 11:10 am

I think we'd all like to see a photo of that tuba if you could manage it. Bloke recently posted information about tinypic.com, which hosts photos for free.
I have an old 3-piston BBb helicon in my attic (in pieces) made by Henri Gunkel in Paris, imported by Lyon & Healy. Really big bore; the fattest helicon I've ever seen.
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Postby Daniel C. Oberloh » Sun Jul 24, 2005 1:50 am

Many L&H instruments were made for them by Martin Band Instrument Co. Unlike the stencil instruments manufactured for other distributers who commonly used the old out of date models for there products, L&H were know to create there owen designs and contract manufacturers to produce them specially for L&H's own distribution.

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Postby Art Hovey » Sun Jul 24, 2005 11:51 pm

As luck would have it, a helicon appeared on Ebay which closely resembles the Lyon & Healy-Gunkel instrument that I mentioned above. Mine was fatter, but with exactly the same layout:

http://i13.ebayimg.com/03/i/04/8c/ec/0e_1_b.JPG

<img src = http://i13.ebayimg.com/03/i/04/8c/ec/0e_1_b.JPG>
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Postby bloke » Mon Jul 25, 2005 12:01 am

Lyon & Healy seemed to offer so many models that some of them, probably, will remain a mystery as to their origin. I own an "Own Make" shepard's crook cornet (' last stages of "bringing it back from the dead") that is absolutely covered in near microscopically detailed engraving. Much about it hints at European origin. However, when I bought a destroyed "parts" York cornet off of eBay, the York bottom caps and some of the tubing (though the caps were not a complete cosmetic match) fit the L&H perfectly.

When I finish restoring that cornet, I'll need to stick pics of it up on TubeNet for viewing (if for nothing but the engraving alone!). It formerly had a Vienna valve (again, "Euro-ish") for the Bb-A conversion mechanism. Unfortunately, I had to cannibalize that contraption to use for parts of the newly-constructed (formerly completely missing) 3rd valve slide parts. Other partially-destroyed cute triggers and such are being set aside in favor of making this instrument have a genuine enough "period" look, yet modern playability. (This instrument was not only abused, but subsequently in a house fire. I bought many years ago for $5 in a BURNED case.) This was one of those (in a similar way to old York Eb tubas!) instruments where the two supplied "high pitch" and "low pitch" main slides had to be unsoldered and parts shuffled around to make a useable A=440 instrument.
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Postby Chuck(G) » Mon Jul 25, 2005 12:15 am

I've got an old L&H eefer that looks very French, right down to the top-sprung valves...

From the photos I've seen of Dale Hale's BBb horns, they certainly look like Holtons.
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Here are the photos....

Postby Bandmaster » Wed Jul 27, 2005 3:46 am

OK, I took photos of this old beast at rehearsal tonight. So here they are. I set my Sanders copy of a Miraphone 191 BBb next to it for size comparison.

Image

Image

Image

Image

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I also got to take it home with me so I could clean it up a see if I could get the valves working nicely. The valves appear to be stainles steel?!?! :shock: It looks like someone had dropped the 4th valve in the past. The bottom of it is out of round, so that's why it doesn't work smoothly. I found a couple of leaky joints when I ran water through it, so I'll tape those shut temporarily until we get it to a repair shop. Hopefully it will play better tommorrow.
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Re: Here are the photos....

Postby Rick Denney » Wed Jul 27, 2005 1:04 pm

Bandmaster wrote:The valves appear to be stainles steel?!?! :shock: It looks like someone had dropped the 4th valve in the past. The bottom of it is out of round, so that's why it doesn't work smoothly. I found a couple of leaky joints when I ran water through it, so I'll tape those shut temporarily until we get it to a repair shop. Hopefully it will play better tommorrow.


I'm sure the valves are nickel-plated brass from that era. Of course, stainless steel is stainless because of the nickel that is in the alloy, so they look quite similar. If the brass is not showing through the nickel plating anywhere, the valves might actually be in good shape.

A good tech can straighten the bottom edge of the valve if that's the only damage it has.

I don't see any dents that really bother me, though I can't tell the condition of the leadpipe.

The instrument really does look like a Holton in the outer branches. It seems to have the fat upper bow that has been associated by some folks with the tuning problem on the third partial, and I'd be curious how the intonation is on the F at the bottom of the staff. The valve body is not like the post-war Holton York copies, but it is more typical of pre-war front-action instruments. They really wrapped the valve body into a tight bundle.

I would say this instrument shows a lot of potential.

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Postby Bandmaster » Wed Jul 27, 2005 2:10 pm

I got all the leaks plugged and valves 1-3 working smoothly. I just inserted valve 4 so I could play it like a 3 valve horn. It looks like someone beat on the top of the 4th valve to remove it once and it is out of round at the top too. :( I think it is still repairable though. The only issues with the bell are many small ripples or dents along the last couple of inches near the rim, and there are a couple of cracks along the rim from years of standing on it's bell. But it looks very repairable.

It blows real easy, not much back pressure at all. But it doesn't have that "wow" feel that my Holton 345 has. The low register speaks real well and it doesn't have any real bad notes in the scale. F and Eb below the staff are a little flat and D below is a little sharp. It is in tune up to F in the staff and a little flat past that. Thats about normal for most tubas. But this horn has a REALLY comfortable feel above the staff, the high notes center better than any of my tubas.

But I do not like the feel of the valves, even though 1-3 feel smooth and fast right now. They are very large valves and have a very long throw. The angle (or tilt) of the valves, while comfortable when standing and cradling the horn, are uncomfortable while sitting and playing. If the horn were mine and I was going to keep it to play regularly, I would consider changing the valve set to something more modern.

The reason that I thought the valves might be stainlees is that this is the first time I have taken an old horn apart and found absolutely NO rust or discoloration on any of the valves. There are some small pits in spots were you would expect to find rust, but no discoloration at all.
Last edited by Bandmaster on Wed Jul 27, 2005 4:49 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby Chuck(G) » Wed Jul 27, 2005 2:51 pm

A hint as to the maker might be the bore size. But yeah, it does look like a Holton.
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Postby harold » Wed Jul 27, 2005 8:54 pm

Dave,

I'll trade you a newly reconditioned Mirafone 186 that is all bright and shiny for that nasty, beat up POS L & H horn.
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Postby Bandmaster » Wed Jul 27, 2005 9:20 pm

harold wrote:Dave,

I'll trade you a newly reconditioned Mirafone 186 that is all bright and shiny for that nasty, beat up POS L & H horn.


Harold,

I will contact the powers that be within the Pomona Concert Band, since they own the horn, and see what they think. It may take several days to get an answer since a couple of board members are on vacation this week. They should be back this weekend.

P.S. - I did find out that the board has requested clarification from the city as to what they are allowed to do with unused band equipment, which is considered city property. The long time founder/director of the band passed away a year ago so the band's management has been going lots of changes. They have not yet heard back from the city. Therefore I am not sure how long it will take to get an answer. :?
Last edited by Bandmaster on Wed Jul 27, 2005 11:41 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby bloke » Wed Jul 27, 2005 11:08 pm

The waterkeys, brace socket flanges, thumb ring, and understated top caps are very reminiscent of Buescher. The fingerbuttons actually look (at least in the picture) like Selmer-vintage Buescher sousaphone fingerbuttons. Some of the instrument's other features are reminiscent of Holton. The wrap of the branches is a bit "Martinesque" (not to be confused with Martinique :lol: ) , but the bows are not "squared off" enough to be Martin.

I doubt if Harold truly views the instrument as a p.o.s.

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Postby Mikelynch » Wed Jul 27, 2005 11:24 pm

I own a L&H that started life as a three valve, top action BBb, but which was converted into an incredible 5 valve, front action CC by Matt at Dillon Music.

Although the valve arrangement of that horn is changed, the body of the horn is in close to, if not actual, original form. I had the opportunity to compare it to several Holton BBb's and the Gronitz York copy, and the body is about .5 to .75 inches wider than either. Also, ferrules are different from the plain ones found on later, and some earlier, Holtons.

As has been pointed out in this series, there may have been several sources of L&H branded horns over the years. But as a result of this horn, I would be reluctant to assume that the big L&H's were in fact made by Holton.

I also have a jumbo L&H sousaphone that looks to be of US manufacture, but which does not look like any other jumbo sousaphone I have ever seen pictured or in person.

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Re: Question about an old Lyon & Healy tuba - plus photos

Postby Bandmaster » Sun Dec 21, 2014 1:48 am

I am resurrecting an old thread for a good reason. The tuba in this thread, an old Lyon & Healy 6/4 BBb, is now for sale at Baltimore Brass for anyone that is interested! I sold it back in 2005 to someone that was hoping to make a project of it. Well, time has passed and other projects have gotten in the way, so it is now for sale. This tuba needs a good home. With a new valve set this horn could be a monster, the old valves are very long throw and a bit clunky. As it is, this horn just sings in the upper register. Ask Don Harry how good old Lyon & Healy's can be made to sound. :wink:

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Re: Question about an old Lyon & Healy tuba - plus photos

Postby windshieldbug » Sun Dec 21, 2014 1:44 pm

And FYI; I figure that this tuba was built c.1902.
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Re: Question about an old Lyon & Healy tuba - plus photos

Postby Heavy_Metal » Tue Dec 23, 2014 2:43 am

I played this horn last time I was at BBC, and found it very tempting. Not sure I'd call it a 6/4 though.

The valve problem mentioned on their site is just the 4th valve stem being slightly bent, so it hangs up on the cap opening when pressed. BBC's shop could probably fix this in their sleep. The other three would probably work very well with Hetman's #3. And yes, it sings!
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Re: Question about an old Lyon & Healy tuba - plus photos

Postby lost » Tue Dec 23, 2014 12:11 pm

Heavy_Metal wrote:I played this horn last time I was at BBC, and found it very tempting. Not sure I'd call it a 6/4 though.

The valve problem mentioned on their site is just the 4th valve stem being slightly bent, so it hangs up on the cap opening when pressed. BBC's shop could probably fix this in their sleep. The other three would probably work very well with Hetman's #3. And yes, it sings!


I think it is a 6/4. The size of the bottom bow, tenon, and branches near the bell stack dwarf the 191 (which is an uncontested 5/4). That is the only way a BAT can be determined. Even though the wrap may be compact, and the tuba light, the size of the branches, bows, and tenons never lie. :tuba:
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Re: Question about an old Lyon & Healy tuba - plus photos

Postby Peter H Adams » Fri Feb 19, 2016 1:21 am

As a new member of this board, please let me introduce myself. My name is Peter H. Adams. I have been researching Lyon & Healy for about a decade. I am looking for digitized copies of catalogs and periodicals issued by Lyon & Healy. Presently, I am most interested in catalogs and periodicals the firm issued before 1923. In exchange, I will happily email copies of material I have digitized. Currently, my hard drive contains about 64 gigabytes of data, most related to brass wind instruments. In my research, I have found strong evidence that L&H manufactured some brass wind instruments as early as the late 1880s.

If you go to Hornucopia's website, you will find some of my research. When my own website was up and running, I had posted the most extensive bibliography of musical instrument trade catalogs.

My background includes studying musical instrument history at the University of South Dakota's National Music Museum, two junior fellowships at the Library of Congress, Music Division, graduate course work in library science, and author of three books about historic musical instruments.
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