©2009 Nick DeCarlis
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About VintageCornets.com: the first ten years...

It’s hard to believe I started putting this website together more than ten years ago in 1998, shortly after the start of the Ebay craze. Prior to Ebay, it could take months to track down even a single vintage instrument of any type. Suddenly there were dozens of amazing cornets to behold each and every day -- even if we had to suffer through excruciatingly slow dial-up connections, waiting for the pictures to download and appear on our screens.

When I started this website, I had less than a dozen cornets in my collection (at the time, I could hardly believe I had even that many!).  In a few months there were several dozen, and then a hundred, and then -- well, you get the idea.  As my collection grew in many directions, I did my best to document my efforts on VintageCornets.com—and it, the website, grew in many directions as well, and not for the best. The most appropriate metaphor I’ve come up with to describe the eventual VintageCornets.com is that it started out as a trailer that became a doublewide, and after a decade ended up being a mansion with 25,000 square feet of space, but poor traffic flow and bad design!

I didn’t really feel like rebuilding the site from scratch, but judging by the email I receive, VintageCornets.com continues to provide a useful source of information on a very obscure subject. So for now, I decided to simply reorganize most of the information previously available in a much simpler, and better organized format. 

The photos vary greatly in quality due to great advances made in photography over the past ten years.  Initially, I used a 35mm SLR, shooting the horns in direct sunlight after which I scanned the prints.  A couple of years later I switched to digital photography and interior lighting, which greatly improved the results. Due to the time it would take, I’m unlikely to go back and re-shoot the early efforts, not to mention, many of these cornets are no longer in my collection.  For displaying the photos on the internet, I felt at the time that the best method was to “stitch” the individual photos into one long composite image, which could be viewed from top to bottom as it gradually downloaded (through the previously discussed, agonizingly slow dial-up connection).  New website programs and high speed access render this method obsolete. My newer PocketCornets.com site handles photos in a much efficient manner. But again, I’m not likely to redo all this work, and hope that what I can easily provide will be better than nothing at all.

I continue to add cornets to my collection, and very much enjoy doing the restoration work myself. As I accumulate too many instruments, I make an honest, if often unsuccessful, effort to sell off some that are (at least at that moment) less interesting to me.  For myself, storing more than 150 cornets (and their cases) is just too much for the size of my home. Plus, I like to display as many of them as possible. Through experience, I’ve discovered that in my mind, a cornet stored in a case, in a closet is nearly the same as a horn sold some years ago -- so you might as well let one go now and then.  Selling cornets, it turns out, requires nearly as much rationalization as required for buying cornets!

—Nick DeCarlis, August 2009



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Boston Musical Manufactory
“1879 Patent” Cornet,
prior to restoration.  You can see “restored” photos on the U.S. Makers page.