B-Flat Cornet used by Walter F. Smith

B-Flat Cornet used by Walter F. Smith

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Description (Brief)
This cornet was made by Henry Distin in New York, New York in 1878. It is a B-flat cornet, serial #226, made of silver plated brass with 3 piston valves and highly engraved with leaf and ribbon patterns on the top of the bell and has decorations on the piston casings, shank receiver, and slide ferrules. This cornet is engraved:

1878 [/] HY. DISTIN NEW YORK [/] TRADE MARK [/] No. 226 [/] HENRY DISTIN [/] MAKER [/] 386 BOWERY OPP. 5TH STR. [/] NEW YORK

This cornet was previously owned by Walter F. Smith (1859-1937), cornetist in the Sousa Band (1893-1896) and the United States Marine Band (1885-1893 and 1898-1921).

Walter F. Smith joined the Sousa Band in 1893 and was made acting leader. In this role, Smith conducted Washington, D.C. concerts, various touring concerts, and also went with the band to perform in the inaugural ceremonies for the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. This experience was a huge success and an article from the Stanley Barney Smith Collection in the Western Michigan University Archives states:

“Played to an audience of 50,000… Although the hour set for appearance of Sousa’s old organization was 3 o’clock, the crowds began pouring into the great playground after luncheon… By 2 o’clock the crowd extended from Van Buren Street to Harrison, lined the East side of Michigan ten to twenty deep. Conductor Smith began his part without any delay and without any preliminaries… Every number was enthusiastically cheered and it is scarcely necessary to say the program was as near perfection as may be.”
Currently not on view
Smith, Walter F.
Sousa, John Philip
Distin, Henry
Distin, Henry
place made
United States: New York, New York
Physical Description
brass (overall material)
silver (overall material)
overall: 12 1/2 in x 5 in x 6 1/2 in; 31.75 cm x 12.7 cm x 16.51 cm
accessories box: 3 1/8 in x 15 1/4 in x 5 1/2 in; 7.9375 cm x 38.735 cm x 13.97 cm
cornet: 12 3/4 in x 7 3/4 in x 4 7/8 in; 32.385 cm x 19.685 cm x 12.3825 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Gift of Edna M. Smith
See more items in
Cultural and Community Life: Musical Instruments
Music & Musical Instruments
Data Source
National Museum of American History


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