Summary of Research
Regarding J.W. York and Sons York Band Instrument Company Grand Rapids Band Instrument Company USA Line
Note: The letters/numbers in bold type at the beginning of each document listed below are used elsewhere on this site as a means of identifying the source.
From the York Archives:
The Shrine to Music Museum
414 East Clark Street
The University of South Dakota
Vermillion, South Dakota 57069
1. "The Two Martins," The Music Trades, Vol 24, No. 10, p. 39, 1902
- Father and son Henry martin were employed by J.W. York and Son. Martin Sr. is 67. The Martin factory in Chicago was destroyed in the great Chicago fire. Henry Martin, Jr. is superintendent of the York factory. The latest product is the York valve trombone, which is made to resemble the slide trombone.
2. "J. W York and Sons," The Music Trades, Vol 23, No. 18, p. 41, 1902
- Demand is taxing the capacity of the factory. Stringed instruments are newly added. York and Sons are getting out booklets.
3. "York Entertains Holton," The Music Trades, Vol. 24, No. 4, p. 38, 1902
- Holton was a partner in the manufacturing business in Grand Rapids with York fifteen years ago. (1886)
4. "Attempt to Burn York Plant," The Music Trades, Vol. 24, No. 16, p. 25, 1902
5. "Latest York Catalog," The Music Trades, Vol 24, No. 18, p. 47, 1902
- York received new proofs of a 22 page catalog, called "York's Silent Salesman." Dimensions are 10x12.5, enameled paper with 45 cuts (plates). Page 1 shows the York solo alto horn. The York valve trombone is also seen. Page 12 shows the Monster Eb Bass. Page 13 shows the York BBb bass. Page 14 shows the York BBb helicon.
6. "J. W. York and Sons to Move," The Music Trades, Vol. 26, No. 2, July 11, 1903, p. 41
- J.W. York will move into the Raniville building at the corner of Campau and Lyon. Will occupy 11,000 square feet on the second floor. There has been a large increase in the company's business. The present quarters are Numbers 3,5 and 7 North Ionia Street. Sixty people are now employed.
7. "York and Sons New Cornet," The Music Trades, Vol. 26, No. 4, July 25, 1903, p. 40
- The debut of the York "Professional" model cornet (shepherd's crook). It is fitted with a quick change device to change from Bb to A. It comes with a low pitch slide and 1st and 3rd low pitch valve slides.
8. "Secure Larger Quarters," The Music Trades, Vol. 26, No. 8, August 22, 1903, p. 42
- Yorks are pioneers in the band instrument manufacturing business in Grand Rapids, having started the industry 20 years ago (1883). For the first six years, the firm had small quarters on Canal Street. For the last sixteen years they have been on North Ionia. Some time ago they purchased a site for a factory on South Division Street. They were going to build in the summer of 1903, but conditions were not favorable.
9. "J. W. York and Sons Rushed," The Music Trades, Vol. 26, No. 9, August 29, 1903, p. 41
- The move into the new factory has been delayed because orders are so large, even with everyone working overtime. They can't keep up with production demands.
10. "The House of York in New York," The Music Trades, Vol. 26, No. 9, November 7, 1903, p. 4
- York is now fully established in the new factory. There is a heavy demand for the professional cornet. The "Musical Herald", York's monthy paper, has just been issued (presumably for the first time?)
11. "York Slide Trombone," The Music Trades, Vol. 26, No. 22, November 28, 1903, p. 43
12. "George W. Jackson Now with J. W. York and Sons," The Music Trades, Vol. 27, No. 18, April 30, 1904, p. 43
- George Jackson is now employed by York. The factories are located at Numbers 2-20 Lyon Street.
13. "Heavy York Band Instrument Business," The Music Trades, Vol XXIX, No. 10, p. 50, March 11, 1905
- York had to reoccupy the old factory on Ionia as the case and drum department.
14. "House of York Spreads Out," The Music Trades, Vol. XXX, No. 2, p. 49, July 15, 1905
- The House of York spreads out, adding 7000 feet (to 21,000) to the factory. The factory is devoted exclusively to brass and silverplate band instruments. "From humble beginnnings 30 years ago (1875?) York now employs 100 people.
15. "Give the Boys the Credit That is Due Them," The Music Trades, Vol. XI, No. 22, p. 51, June 3, 1905
- In number 10 of York's Musical Herald, "Frank and Charles, my two sons, have grown up in the business for 25 years and have strained to make it a success." Through the days when they were battling against business depression and money panics. . . . . . (Evidently Charles was hands on and Frank was the business end.
16. "York and Sons Eb Bass," The Music Trades, Vol. XXIX, No. 5, p. 51, February 4, 1905
- The York "Monster" Eb bass.
17. "Heavy Demand for Band Instruments," The Music Trades, Vol XXXIII, No. 20, p. 41, May 18, 1907
- The American manufacturers of band instruments are experiencing an era of unexampled (?) prosperity. "The growth of their business (York) has been steady and remarkable."
18. Advertisement, The Metronome, Vol. 24, No. 3, March, 1913
- "1912 was the largest of our 30 years (1882?) of band instrument manufacturing, but 1913 will be larger." "In just a trifle over 30 years, we have builded better than 57,000 of them."
19. Advertisement, The Dominant, Vol. 21, No. 3, May 1913
- "Some 60,000 musicians own York Insruments."
20. Advertisement, The Dominant, Vol. 21, No. 6, August 1913
- Another announcement for the Al-Tru cornet. "An instrument representing our more than 30 years experience."
21. Advertisement, The Musical Enterprise, Vol. 25, No. 9, June 1913
22. Advertisement, The Musical Enterprise, Vol. 25, No. 9, June 1913
- Advertises catalog #4 - the Drum catalog.
23. Advertisement, The Musical Enterprise, Vol. 25, No. 12, September, 1913
- The Al-Tr cornet is advertised. It has a unique slide stop mechanism. There is a new valve system in which the 3rd valve controls two slides--A or Bb. Top of the ad says "Made by York" and the bottom of the ad says "J.W. York and Sons."
24. Advertisement, The Musical Enterprise, Vol. 25, No. 12, September, 1913
- An advertisement for the Drummer's book. Instructions are to ask for book E.
25. Advertisement, The Musical Enterprise, Vol. 26, No. 2, November, 1913
26. Advertisement, The Musical Enterprise, Vol. 26, No. 2, November, 1913
- Advertising the Al-Tru cornet with a purchase price of $65
27. Advertisement, The Musical Enterprise, Vol. 26, No. 3, December, 1913
- Instruments are listed to try by mail. The following instruments are listed: C, Bb and A cornets, Metropolitan trumpet, Band and Orchestra horn in F, Eb, and D, slide trombone, valve trombone, snare drum, Eb tenor--upright, euphonium, double belled euphonium, Eb bass--small size, Eb monster bass, BBb bass--small size, monster BBb bass, helicon BBb bass, saxophone.
28. Advertisement, The Dominant, Vol. 30, July, 1923
- The company is still listed as J.W. York and Sons in this advertisement.
29. Advertisement, The Metronome, Vol. XLII, No. 16, p. 45, August 15, 1926
- Signature is listed as the York Band Instrument Company. "Makers of good band instruments since 1882."
30. "The Instruments of the Band," Booklet published by York, 1927
- This also shows the York Band Instrument Company as the signature. 3rd edition. Advertises a fleugel horn and a mellophone, called a Band and Orchestra horn. The engraviing on the photograph of the tuba bell still appears to read J. W. York and Sons.
31. York Band Instrument Catalog, June 1, 1928
- This is catalog #40. The engravings on bells all say Made by J.W. York and Sons, Grand Rapids, Mi. Almost all the listings note that instruments are supplied in low pitch only. Tubas in particular still have high pitch and low pitch in combination only. None of the instruments are listed by name, only by model number.
32. Advertisement, The Music Magazine, November, 1928
- The address is shown as MU-28 Division Avenue
33. Advertisement, The Bandmaster, Vol. 3, No. 5, May, 1928
43. York Band Instrument Catalog, 1935
- This catalog is almost an exact duplicate of the 1929 catalog except that all instruments in the catalog are shown as low pitch only.
45. "York Instrument Company, formed in 1882, A Leader," Grand Rapids Herald, February 9, 1937
- "In 1882...., J. W. York, a former army musician who was playing in the Grand Rapids theaters, decided to go into business for himself. The founder was then past 40when he set up his business on the ground floor of the building in lower Monroe Avenue, where Heyman's store now stands." By 1890 York was operating a repair plant and making a few small instruments. (cornets and trombones). New models were added until 1898 when the company was making a complete line of cup mouthpiece brass instruments. The original factory was in Ionia Avenue. Later it was moved to the Raniville Power building. In 1908, the present plant at 1600 South Division Avenue was built. For many years the company was owned solely by York and Sons. In 1913 a stock company was formed. The management in 1937 included: Karl B. Shrinkman, president and treasurer; Alfred J. Johnson, vice-president; L.E. Butler, secretary. J.E. Mead, assistant treasurer.
46. "York Company Sold, Will Expand," (Grand Rapids Herald?) December 5, 1940
- The York company was purchased by Carl Fischer. There is a plan to double production and employment. Ninety persons are now employed. "The founder, J.W. York, first located on Monroe Avenue, later Ionia Avenue." The Division Avenue plant was built in 1908. The firm was incorporated in 1906. The name was changed to York Band Instrument Company in 1926. The York family interests were sold to James and John Duffy in 1913.
47. York Band Instrument Catalog, 1952
- USA Line instruments are advertised. Bugles were also advertised. "York bugles have been outstanding for 50 years."
48. Packing list for a shipment to Arne B. Larson, December 12, 1953
- This shows shipment of a receiver for a Model 160 with the serial number 186549.
50. York Band Instrument Catalog, 1957 (1960?)
- This catalog shows anniversary model cornets and trumpets. Rotary valve tubas are also shown.
52. York Band Instrument Catalog, (1964?) Address of York from catalog cover is 1600 Division Avenue South, Grand Rapids 2, Michigan
- This is a copy of the previous catalog, except less well done (more cheaply produced)
54. York Band Instrument Catalog and price list, June 1, 1966
- The opening commentary "for over 75 years," is also used in earlier catalogs.
56. York Band Instrument Catalog and price list, January 1, 1967
57. York Band Instrument Catalog and price list, January 1, 1968
58. Letter to Arne B. Larson from York, August 7, 1968
- This letter indicates that it would be far too time consuming to recreate a serial number list.
59. York Band Instrument Catalog and price list, March 1, 1970
- This gives a brief history of York. Introduction states that Holton, Martin and Foster worked at the factory. By 1898 he had a full line of band instruments made in his own factory. States that the company has been in business for 90 years. The back of the catalog notes that it is a subsidiary of Fischer, and the address is given as 105 E. 16th Street, New York.
61. York Band Instrument Catalog, (1973?)
- Name change to York Musical Instrument Company, Incorporated (1973) Address is 55 Marcus Drive, Melville, New York 11764
62. York Band Instrument Catalog and price list (also strings catalog), June 1, 1973
Additional Research and Correspondence
SW. Brian Frederickson. Arnold Jacobs: Song and Wind. Edited by John Taylor. Gurney, Illinois: Windsong Press, Ltd., 1996
MK Kriven, Martin. A Century of Wind Instrument Manufacturers in the United States, 1860-1960, State University of Iowa, PhD, 1961. University Microfilms International.
S1.Telephone Interview with Vern Avery, former York employee, Holland, Michigan 24 January 1984
S4. Letter from Lloyd Farrar, Silver Spring, Maryland, 21 June 1984
S7. Telephone interview with Robert Elaison, 11 January 1983
S8. Interview with Arne Larson, Shrine to Music Museum, 11 January 1983
S9. Telephone interview with Ralph Wells, former York employee, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 2 February 1984
S10. Telephone interview with Gene Pilszuk, former York employee, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 2 February 1984
S11. Telephone interview with Rose Thorndill (Venza), former York employee, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 2 February 1984
S15. From York's Musical Journal Vol II, No. 7, December, 1885:
Advertisements for several instruments, including Higham (sold by Lyon and Healy), Challenger (sold by WW Fisher in Penn, also Besson and Courtois cornets), Boston Musical Instrument Factory 3-Star Bb cornet, and Excelsior Band Instruments by Charles Missenharter, New York.
S17. Letter from Gene Pokorny, Chicago Symphony, 25 October 1989
S19. Grand Rapids Business Directory:
Grand Rapids Band Instrument Company was a subsidiary of York and Son, Est. 1883. In 1930, the name Grand Rapids Band Instrument Company no longer appears in the directory.
S20. Letter from Glenn Bridges to the Grand Rapids Public Library (no date):
York went into the publishing business with Frank Holton of Allegan, Michigan, before going into the manufacturing business. York's granddaughter was Mrs. Lucille Reynolds of Grand Rapids. He had one great-granddaughter.
S21. Grand Rapids Press, 28 April 1894:
York hired workmen from Courtois and Besson
S22. Grand Rapids Press, 19 December 1908:
York produces an average of 300 instruments per month. The market is the US and Canada. The company employs 130 people. Personnel include:
- Alfred Johnson - expert instrument maker
- Edward Gonrad - valve department
- Frank Simmer - bell maker
- William Fitzsimmons - plating James Miller - buffing and polishing
S23. Grand Rapids Press, 1/26/5: York has 85 employees
S24. Grand Rapids Press, 5 Dec. 1971:
In 1890, York joined with Tom Thomas and opened an office at Ionia and Fulton Streets to repair instruments. York employed 300 people at one time. In 1951 there were 120 workers. The business was sold to James and John Duffy (original partners) in 1913 and the name was changed to York Band Instrument Co. in 1926. Carl Fischer bought York for $300,000 in 1940 and sold it in 1970 to Tolchin Instruments, Inc. Alvin Feldman, the manager, left to manage the service department of the Chicago Music Instrument Company in Lincolnwood, Illinois.
S25. Summary of Information from the county records
23 February 1927: Articles of Association, James Duffy, President. Address is 1600 Division Avenue, SE 23 December 1931: Karl Shrinkman is appointed agent for the company 16 February 1936: Karl B. Shrinkman is Vice President, L.E. Butler is Secretary. Total stock is 15000 shares at $10 per share. Board of Directors is:
- James Duffy, 319 Ashburn, S.E.
- John Duffy, 20 Gay St. S.E.
- Karl Shrinkman, 1412 Prospect, S.E.
- Benjamin Robinson, 50 College Avenue, S.E.
- Alfred Johnson, 341 Fuller Ave. S.E.
7 January 1941: Jonathon Mead is appointed Resident Agent, H. Meyers is President
21 March 1942: Pearl Vanstratt is appointed Resident Agent, Harry Meyers is President
22 July 1954: Alford Freeman is appointed Resident Agent, Alphonse Derleth is Assistnat Secretary
6 December 1964: Carl Schwartz is President, David Myers is Secretary; company is registered in the State of New York.
7 September 1971: rose Venza is appointed Agent for the company.
28 June 1972: Murray Morris is Secretary; location is changed from 1600 Division Street in Grand Rapids to 615 Griswold Street in Detroit.
S26. Telephone interview with Dr. Margaret Downie Banks, Shrine to Music Museum, undated
S28. York Catalog, hand dated 1916
S29. York Catalog, hand dated 1907
S30. Interview with Robb Stewart, Arcadia, California, March, 1995
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