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Their expertise, teamed with the Colonel's ingenuity and ambition, soon produced instruments so exceptional that they were accorded highest honors in the 1893 World's Columbia Exposition in Chicago. Twice it was rebuilt, bigger and better than before. He was responsible for founding the first national school for band directors, first and only center for the study of musical acoustics, first successful short action valves, first all-electronic organ and first fiberglass sousaphones, among other legendary advancements.
Famous bandmasters and musicians visited the plant and personally endorsed "Conn Wonder Instruments." John Phillip Sousa, Patrick Gilmore, Herbert Clarke, Arthur Pryor, A. Vaudeville was at its peak, and the theaters and music halls of Elkhart saw a steady procession of the finest bands and musicians of the day. Conn instruments - ornate and often jeweled - became world famous as Sousa and others toured Europe playing before kings, queens and czars. During World War II the Conn factory was completely converted to manufacture precision instruments for defense.
The fourth character (number) indicates the specific type of instrument: "1" = Cornet, "2" = Trumpet, "3" = Alto Horn, "4" = French Horn, "5" = Mellophone, "6" = Valve Trombone, "7" = Slide Trombone, "8" = Baritone Horn & Euphonium, "9" = Tuba, and "10" = Sousaphone.
The remaining four numbers of the serial number indicate the production number of the instrument on a monthly basis.
Instruments made during that period are not likely to be their best examples, as the workers were still relatively new at the manufacturing process.
In March of 1974 an alpha-numeric system was established, where the first character (letter) of a serial number indicated the decade; "G" for the 1970's, "H" for the 1980's, etc.
The third character (a number) indicates the number of year within the decade (indicated earlier by the first letter).
Serial numbers with a "V" engraved after the serial number are factory seconds.
Note: From 1987 on, the two-digit prefix number plus 50 will give you the year of manufacture on all Conn products.
The suspicion is that a star indicates a gold brass bell (higher copper content), while a "B" indicates a "French brass" bell.
None of this is confirmed at the moment (July 2009).