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Frank Holton & Co. • no. 499783 • 1971

I recently completed minor restoration work (mostly repairing plating wear) on this “first version” of the last true pocket cornet made in the United States (see the C150.2 page for the “second” version). The C150 has been a constant source of fascination to players for some time. The more I learn about the model, the more amazed I am. The model was recently discontinued by Holton – essentially handmade to order, the price exceeded what the small market would bear.

I have proved to my own satisfaction that the resemblance to the Distin “Baby” cornet is more than coincidental (see catalog page) – Herbert L. Clarke was awarded a “Baby” in 1886 – later, he had a long association with the Frank Holton Company.  I hope to find out exactly when Holton started making this model. Until recently I had thought the C150 was a relatively new model, but I now know it was made as earlier as 1937 (see below).

Do YOU own a Holton C150? If so, please email me the serial number.  I’m starting a database to get some idea of how many were made and over what period of time.

Interestingly, the original C150 case is an internally modified LeBlanc clarinet case!

Note: this instrument is not for sale, nor do I know of any Holton C150’s for sale. It is is no longer being manufactured.

Length (mouthpiece removed): 7”
Bell Diameter: 3.5”
Bore: .452

Frank Holton & Co. • no. 121479 • 1937

Possible prototype C150, believed to still be in possession of Holton.  Note that this instrument closely duplicates the Distin, down to the overtly oval bell, as well as the removable leadpipe shank, essentially an obsolete feature by the late 30’s.  (photos courtesy Al Rice)



1982 Holton Catalog, note
earlier design proportions



At some date after 1982 the design changed (see “modern pocekts”)

Frank Holton & Co. • no. 143937 • 1941

Recently obtained photos of  “The Mighty Midget” which was made for famed circus cornetist Merle Evans. The cornet still exists in a circus museum in Wisconsin.   (photos courtesy Michelle Smith Performing Arts Center/SCPA, Univesity of Maryland. Special thanks to Colleen McKnight for her assistance)

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