Olds Trumpet and Cornet Serial number list

1929-1979 (Updated 5/8/23)

This is my attempt at a complete serial number list for Olds trumpets and cornets for the full 70 year production run of the company. Adjustments have been made from other published serial number lists to establish the best estimate of the serial number for January 1 of each calendar year. Notes are shown at the end of the table. This list should also be accurate for Olds trombones and other brasses beginning with serial number 15000. A detailed study of the reason for updates to the 1936 to 1951 ranges can be found here.

If you have questions, comments or suggested improvements please contact us.

YEAR Serial Number
January 1
1929 1 174
1930 175 110
19341228 528
19362700 900
19373600 1,100
19384700 1,100
1939 5800 1,200
19429650 1,350
194311000 1,400
194615000 2,000 (serial numbers merged-includes all brasses)
194821000 9,000
194930000 10,000
1950 4200012,000
195388500 19,500
1978A06741 23,259

The following is a year by year summary of key factors that have influenced by serial number estimates based on:

1) previous work of others,

2) catalog and publication information,

3) entries in the Olds Register, and

4) estimated production levels.

I’ve generally disregarded “purchase date” information because there are a number of examples where the purchase date is several years after a logical estimated manufacturing date. Since other than the first first few years of production there are no factory records, purchase date documentation or notations of a purchase date in the Olds Register only confirms that the instrument was manufactured some months or years prior to that date.


There may have been less than 174 horns produced in the first year because there is some evidence that not all serial numbers were produced.


These first few years are based on an actual production log book, so these numbers are backed up by factory documentation.


An undated catalog estimated to be circa 1933 lists trumpet models as Standard, Military, and Symphony. Cornet models are Standard and Military. The first Military trumpet in the Olds Register Database is #808. The first Symphony trumpet is #790 The first reported Military cornet is #1506. The estimated serial number range for 1933 is 750 to 1227, so the first “reported” of these trumpet models falls within this range.


The first reported Military cornet is #1506 which would fall into the estimated 1934 range of 1228 to 1755. There are 13 Military trumpets recorded before the first Military cornet is recorded, so perhaps this is similar to “the Olds” model, where many trumpets were produced before there was a first cornet.


An undated catalog estimated to be circa 1935 lists trumpet models as Standard, Military, and the new French model. The Symphony trumpet is gone. Cornet models are Standard and Military. First French model trumpet recorded in the Olds Register is #1633. The last Symphony model recorded is #2619. The estimated serial number range for 1935 is 1756 to 2699 so if this range is correct, the first French model was made in late 1934 and the last Symphony was made in late 1935.


The estimated serial number range for 1936 is 2700 to 3599.


An undated catalog estimated to be circa 1937 is the first to include the Super trumpet and cornet in the lineup. The first Super trumpet recorded in the Olds Register is #3699. The first Super cornet is #4095. These both fall near the start of the estimated serial number range for 1937 of 3600 to 4699.


The estimated serial number range for 1938 is 4700 to 5799. The last Military cornet recorded is #5757 and the last Military trumpet is #6431. Neither model appear in the catalog the following year.


The estimated serial number range for 1939 is 5800 to 6999. The A catalog dated 1939 no longer includes the Military trumpet or cornet in the lineup. A new Radio cornet (with a very similar wrap to the Military cornet) is included. The first Radio cornet is #5625. Even though it does not show up in the 1939 catalog, the first Super Recording trumpet is #6085 built for Pappy Mitchell. Based on the adjacent serial numbers recorded in the Old Register, there were no more than 10 Super Recordings produced in 1939, so perhaps these were prototypes before regular production began more than a year later. The first Special trumpet recorded is #6300. This is another example of the Catalog and production (as well as serial number efforts!) not quite lining up. The Special trumpet does not appear until the 1941 catalog. Perhaps this 1939 dated catalog was in production before the first Special trumpet was produced. This seems to follow a pattern of a new model in the marketplace before it was included in promotional materials. Of course, there are likely additional promotional materials that have not been discovered.


The estimated serial number range for 1940 is 7000 to 8199. The full production of the of Super Recording trumpets began at #7513 and the first Super Recording cornet at #7954.


In the catalog dated 1941, the Special model makes its entrance as well as the Recording model Super trumpet. The catalog features Special, Standard and Super instruments in one introductory page followed by the Trumpet, Cornet and Trombone for each line. The Recording model trumpet is shown with the heading “Super Instruments”. This is also the first catalog to show this new model. Production of trumpets and cornets is estimated to have reached a pre-war peak 1,450 instruments, approximately double the production of just five years earlier. The serial number range for 1941 is estimated to e 8200 to 9649.


It has previously been thought that Olds did not produce any instruments during WWII, however, Robb Stewart recently discovered a reference to Congressional Testimony by R. B. Olds in 1945 regarding price controls wherein Mr. Olds made reference to contracts with the US Quartermaster during the war. More detail on this an other wartime theories can be found here.


Olds produced approximately 1,450 trumpets and cornets in 1941, the last year before the start of WWII. It is now believed that the trumpet and trombone serial number sequences merged around serial number 15000. My current estimate is that in calendar year 1946, Olds produced 2,000 trumpets, cornets and trombones. Assuming the ratio of trumpets/cornets to trombones remained similar to 1941 production, this would mean that production of trumpets and cornets increased slightly compared to pre-war production. The serial number range for 1946 is estimated to be 15000 to 16999. It is interesting that the Olds Register entries for 1946 indicate that only 14% of the instruments were cornets. 74% of the instruments recorded are the Super model. 17% were the Standard model and 9% were the Super Recording model. There are no Special models recorded.


Production continued to increase in 1947 but Olds did not have larger facilities until 1948. The estimate is that 4,000 instruments were produced with the serial number range being 17000 to 20999. There is an Olds catalog that has a notation of “prices are effective October 15, 1947.” Interesting that the cover has some similar artwork to the 1948 catalog, but no mention of the Ambassador model. The trumpet models in descending order in the catalog are Super Recording, Super, Standard and Special. Although referred to only as the “Recording model” this is still not the redesigned model that would appear in 1950, so we’ve labelled it as Super Recording for clarification.


The estimated serial number range for 1948 is 21000 to 29999. Sometime during 1948, a larger facility was added to the manufacturing operation. There is one Ambassador cornet listed in the Olds Register as the first Ambassador entry as #24856. However, the first batch of Ambassador trumpets begins with #26774. During it’s first year of production, the Ambassador model represents 44% of the entries in the Olds Register. The model with the second highest number of entries for the year is the Super Recording with 20%. This is an example of the challenges of trying to reconcile the data. Neither the Ambassador nor the Studio appear in a publication with prices effective in October 1947. Robb Stewart has also found an advertisement in a January 1948 publication introducing the Ambassador, so this generally lines up with the 1948 serial number range.

The next catalog that has been identified is undated but believed to have been published in 1948 or 1949. This catalog features the Ambassador model on the cover. In addition to featuring the Ambassador, the Studio model first appears in this catalog. The (Super) Recording model trumpet and cornet remain at the top of the line in the same configuration as in 1947, however, the description of the Recording trombone now includes the “Re-O-loy” bell. The Standard model is no longer in the line-up. Both models appear in this 1948/49 catalog, but the first Ambassador has a serial number approximately 10000 lower than the first Studio, representing approximately a 12 month difference in their start dates. The last “batch” of Standard models shows up in the Olds Register from #34216 to #34277. Based on other adjacent entries, this was a batch of at least 61 trumpets and could have been as large as a batch of 300. There are a couple of individual later entries, with the last being #35915. So there was a little overlap between the Standard and Studio models, but only for a short period. Based on all of this data, I’m revising the date of this catalog back to 1949.


The estimated serial number range for 1949 is 30000 to 41999. As noted above, the last Standard model that is entered in the Olds Register is #35915, which would have been made in early 1949. The first batch of Studio trumpets recorded in the Olds Register begin with #34611. 1949 began with a large number of Studios being produced. For 1949, the Olds Register shows 51% of the entries are the Ambassador model and the new Studio model which began production in early 1949, has the second most entries at 20%.


The estimated serial number range for 1950 is 42000 to 55999. Entries in the Olds Register show that the last batch of Super Recording (cornets) ends with #45845. The last Super Recording trumpet entered is #44794. Then the first Recording model trumpet shows up with #45883. Then the first large batch of Recording trumpets begins with #49552. Based on adjacent entries of other models, this batch would have ranged between 125 and 380 instruments. There are 161 entries in the Olds Register that fall in the 1950 range, which represents just over 2% of the estimated trumpet and cornet production for that year. 37% of the entries are cornets and 63% are trumpets. Ambassadors represent 43% of production, followed by the Super at 17%; the new Recording model at 14%; the Studio at 13%; the Special at 11%; and the Super Recording cornets made at the very start of the year at 2%. Of course, when reviewing the data from the Olds Register, there are many variables to consider, including the fact that not as many student -level Ambassadors may have survived and collectors may be more likely to report the higher-end more collectable models.


The estimated serial number range for 1951 is 56000 to 70999. This serial number range reflects a continued steady production increase. There is an undated catalog that is estimated to have been published in 1951. This catalog shows the new configuration of the Recording trumpet and cornet with the Re-O-loy bell and spring loaded trigger. The Ambassador models are priced $10 more than in 1949, and other models have similar price increases. Mendez mouthpieces are included, but there is no mention of the Mendez trumpet, which was to be introduced in late 1952. Olds Register entries are at just above 2% of estimated trumpet/cornet production. Total trumpet and cornet production is reported at 65%/35%, but for the Ambassador line, it is an even 50%/50% split. Although in raw numbers, the Ambassador model production increased, it only represents 34% of 1951 entries in the Olds Register. The Super is again second at 22%, followed by the Recording at 18%, then the Studio at 16%, and finally the Special at 10%.


The estimated serial number range for 1952 is 71000 to 88500. 1952 is a critical year in the Olds serial number estimates because the established Allied Supply serial number list begins with serial number 73000 in March 1952. Starting with the estimated 1946 serial number of 15000 and moving forward year by year using catalog changes and data for new models in the Olds Register, the key is to provide a smooth transition to the March 1952 number of 73000. For the remaining years up to 1979, I’ve taken the Allied Supply serial number milestones and converted to a January 1 serial number for each year based on the production levels that the Allied Supply list indicates.

The Mendez model was introduced in late 1952. The first entry in the Olds Register is a single entry that is #77158 followed by another single entry labeled as the Mendez prototype at #79490. The first batch of Mendez trumpets shows up as #86004 through #86965. So the data in the Olds Register backs up the story that when the Mendez trumpet was introduced, Olds made 1,000 of them. This must have satisfied the demand for the new model because after these 38 consecutive entries in the Olds Register, no additional Mendez models are recorded until more than 2 years representing production of 40,000 instruments before another Mendez is made! (or at least reported so far). The Olds Register entries represent 1.8% of estimated trumpet/cornet production. The percentage of cornets reported is reduced to 27%.

For 1952, the Ambassador model production increased, but its overall share of total production is reduced as it only represents 37% of entries in the Olds Register. The Recording is next at 22%, followed by the new Mendez model at 19%. The Special remains at the same 10% level as the previous year, but the Super and Studio are each reduced to 6% of the entries.

MORE TO COME….Year by year comments will be continued as time allows, but I’ve gone up to the start of the Allied Supply serial number table, so there is less speculation from 1953 to 1979.


I’ve made a few very minor tweaks to Robb Stewart’s list in the years leading up to WWII. Mainly based on trying to smooth out production numbers

Recent research indicates that contrary previous reports, Olds did produce some horns for US Military use as documented in some Congressional testimony by R. B. Olds. Also there are a number of US Stamped and a huge increases in silver plated horns from this era. In absence of specific documentation, I’ve spread the estimated wartime production of 3,000 evenly for 1942, 1943, 1944. and 1945.

Based on research supplied by Jon Patton, it is clear that the trumpet and trombone serial number lists did not merge around serial number 100,000 as has been reported by a former Olds employee, but must have occurred around serial number 15000. Prior to the war, Olds was producing just over 2,000 trumpets per year and just under 1,000 trombones per year. With trombones added into the serial number list after WWII, the production increases dramatically because both instrument lines are included, but more importantly because of the increased demand for band instruments after the war.

In the years 1946 through 1952, I’ve revised the numbers from Robb Stewart’s list to provide a transition to the Allied Supply serial number list which began in March 1952.

The Allied Supply list from 1952 to 1978 has been assumed to be accurate, but there is no reference to the source of this data in the Allied Catalog. This list used specific serial number milestones (50,000 or 100,000 increments) with the month/year the milestone was reached. Some of the dates are a year a part and others closer or farther. To standardize the table, I’ve used the Allied data and corresponding production levels to adjust to an estimated January 1 serial number for each calendar year.

The Allied Supply list looks good until you convert to an annual production. The annual production is 50,000 units for several years, but also swings quite a bit. Of course, in the late 1950’s though the 1960’s, Olds was producing a larger variety of instruments, so these new lines may have been incorporated into the serial number sequence.

I have relied on the previous work of Robb Stewart, Alan Rouse, and others to produce this list, which although I consider an improvement over the other lists, is still just an estimate based on the best available data and my own interpretation of that data. I’ve used estimated production levels that result from these serial number estimates, catalogs, sales receipts, entries in the Olds Register and other data.


Robb Stewart’s Olds Serial Numbers and Dates for Trumpets and Cornets

Centex Brass Blog Post

Alan Rouse’s earlier serial number estimates (now updated in Robb Stewart’s information shown above.)

See “The Olds Register” for details on specific instruments or to submit your trumpet, cornet or flugelhorn to the database.

Chart of Olds trumpet & cornet models by year prepared by John Irvine